We got into Firenze from Napoli Centrale via the intercity train. Florence has a good train station with some decent options for lunch and dinner. We grabbed lunch here before heading to our stay. Florence is a quiet city with connectivity through busses only. It’s definitely more a city as compared to Naples but has quiet residential areas and lots of places to explore.
Stay and Locality
We stayed at a 20min bus journey from the central train station off Via Gabriele D’Annunzio. It was a great locality with quick access to a Lidl Supermarket (where you can stock up essentials), cafeterias, gelateria and other shops. All these were at walkable distances. Our hosts were awesome and gave us some really neat advice on things to do in the city.
The restaurant in the area was Fiorella Pizzeria. It most amazing and friendly staff. The food was fantastic and so was the wine. We tried their various pastas, pizzas and risottos which they fully customized for us. It was very yummy and we kept going back for more through our stay in Florence.
Florence is connected by busses. There is no metro in this city yet. But the busses are quite frequent in the day. You will have to wait a while for busses in the night. The frequency drops from once in 5min in the day to 20min in the late evenings. Get ready to wait patiently. Same story with the tickets, get them from a tobacco store before you board the bus. There is a 4 use ticket which is very handy. It is a single card which is good for 4 bus trips. This way you can just get a bunch of these and travel quite a bit without worrying about getting a ticket once every trip. Also note that you have to validate your ticket in the machine on the bus. Else it is considered as travelling without a ticket. Once validated, you can take any number of trips for 90mins from the time of validation.
- Florence makes its pizzas more crispy, similar to that of Rome
- The top is runny like Naples though.
- Pasta is less al dente as compared to Rome but more than Naples
City : Sights, Sounds and Safety
- The city centre can be entered from Piazza St Marco.
- The city centre is known to be expensive for no real reason. They look nice but there are a lot of tourist traps. Don’t bother eating or drinking in the city centre. Not only are the restaurants expensive, they are not nice. We got this very valuable advice from the locals.
- Shopping is not a bad idea, not all shops are expensive – eg: Zara, H&M, etc. They are crowded but not too expensive.
- The Cathedral Saint Maria Del Fiore looks fantastic
- There are a lot of street vendors who get chased around by cops for, well, street vending.
- The city is lovely when it’s raining. There are many small streets with projected roofs to huddle into.
- The library behind the Cathedral has a rooftop café. It’s open to the public. If you want to have a cappuccino with the view of the Cathedral Dome, that would be the place to go.
- The area also has a lot of museums to visit.
- The city is very safe, but it’s better to stay alert. Keep your bags close.
Don’t Eat at Gran Caffe San Marco
- It’s right by the bus stop. Avoid this place like the plague.
- They are apparently a pasticceria but can’t get their own tiramisu right
- What’s more, a tiramisu costs EUR 12. Clearly a tourist trap. Run away!
- This spot offers a great aerial view of the city and its many bridges
- There is a replica of the sculpture David by Michelangelo.
- There is an Iris garden which hosts a competition where people try to grow them in different colours.
- Grabbing some wine and snacks, sitting on the stairs and watching the sun set over the city is what you should do here.
- The walk back to the city is supposed to be good, but we were tired and took the bus back instead.
- This is one of the many bridges in the city. This is also the only one that was not destroyed while all the others had to be rebuilt.
- The bridge is full of shops – gold, diamonds and corals
- The bridge looks a lot better from the Michelangelo Peak than from inside
- Lovers love scribbling their names here because it’s a thing
- Take a walk on the parallel bridges, it’s got lesser crowd and a better view
Ponte Alla Carraia Gelato
- This place has really good, creamy gelato with a great spread of options. The cones are baked well too.
- Grab one before you take a walk on the bridge. Even better if it is raining.
- Venchi is originally a chocolate manufacturing company
- They now have gelato stores in many parts of Italy
- Their chocolate gelato is fantastic. Must have.
- We’ll I can’t tell you about Pisa as such because we gave it the skip.
- While it was just an hour’s journey from Florence, it is known to be a very crowded place.
- The building as such has no major significant history.
- We opted to spend more time in the lovely city of Florence instead.
Train to La Spezia
- Intercity trains are on time.
- We picked up tickets online at https://www.italiarail.com/.
- The ticket to La Spezia needs to be issued off a machine, the computer print will not do.
- Once the tickets are issued, get them validated. Without the validation stamp, the ticket is as good as not bought. Yes, even if you have paid full price, it will be as good as not bought.
- While some platforms like 3 and 4 seem to be missing, you will have to walk far into platform 5 and voila, there will be.
- The seating is not reserved.
- No charging ports
- No WiFi
- Either this leg of the journey didn’t have good options or we picked the wrong one.
- While it was not uncomfortable, the other train journeys were just far better.