2017.05.10 across the italian countryside

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Travelog: 2017.05.10 AM

Goodbye Rome! We left our apartment with mixed feelings as it really felt like home, but we were also looking forward to our next stop: Florence!

Our train to Florence was set to depart at 8:35 and we were already at Termini Station before 7:00  Had McDonald’s for breakfast… they have so much more variety, even for breakfast!!!  It’s nice to have bacon in our McDonald’s breakfast for a change!

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Saw a Moleskine store that I desperately wanted to enter, but it was so early that it was still closed… Ugh!!!
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We bought tickets in advance from the official Trenitalia website!

It was a good thing we were so early, so we could be one of the first few to board the train, because unlike Japan, the seats were too narrow for us to have our luggage in front of us! We had to quickly find a corner nearby to stow away our luggage before the spot is taken by other passengers. So my advice to anyone who is planning to take trains in Italy, make sure you get there early or you might end up not having anywhere to put your luggage!

After a two hour (or so) train ride through the Italian countryside, we arrived in Florence – city of art, papermaking & surprise, surprise… PHARMACIES. Also, the city of Dante and Inferno, for fellow Dan Brown fans!

All trains to Florence stops at the Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station (or S.M. Novella Station for short), which is the main hub for all trains in the city. It’s quite a mess of a station, as you do not need a ticket to walk on to the platform!! It’s basically an open station, and if you have a friend or family member leaving on a train, you can actually walk them right up to the train, as they do not check for tickets at the station.

This is very different from Rome, where you need to have a valid ticket to enter the platform area. I guess Florence is small enough that they deem this unnecessary… In any case, people who sneak onto the train without a ticket will be fined quite heavily anyway once they are found without a ticket when the conductor comes round, so I doubt anyone actually tries it!

Tip: There is a Tourist Information Office right across the station – just look for a red signboard! Here, you can get free city maps, bus schedules, and even purchase a Firenze Card should you need one. Before leaving home, we calculated the costs and figured it was much cheaper to pay the entrance fees and explore the city on foot, as everything is within walking distance – don’t be deceived by the map, everything looks further than they actually are!!

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The streets in Florence are half as narrow as the ones in Rome, and that’s saying something!

We arrived earlier than the usual check-in time, so a couple of days before arriving, we actually asked our host if it was possible for us to put our bags in the room while the cleaning is going on. He said it was okay, and agreed to meet us at 11:00 outside the apartment building.

The apartment is tiny but perfect location-wise, as it was only a 5 minute walk or so to the Duomo. I forgot to take photos of the apartment, but it was loft-bed setup, with a couch below it and some essentials, such as a microwave, mini fridge and a rod for you to hang your clothes, in case you would like to do some laundry.

The bathroom was quite nicely designed, although the hot water runs out quite quickly, as I have unfortunately discovered, being the second one in the shower on the first night. After that, I made my husband let me shower first no matter what, since he prefers lukewarm (tap water temperature to me, really) water and I love bathing in lava.

We dropped our bags, paid our tourist tax (€ 2.50 per pax, per night) and headed out for a new adventure!

 

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