On Tuesday morning we took the train to Florence. Hilariously our first train ride would be the only one that was flawless. After 4 hours we arrived at our destination. Alana had smartly printed out walking directions from each train station we would be in over the week to the hotel. 3/4 were all within about 6 minutes of the train stations.
Our affittacamere (landlady) Vanessa was incredibly nice. We paid our city tax (1 euro/person/day, no idea how they decide which city deserves more money) and we went to see David. We hadn’t bought skip-the-line tickets and we didn’t like the size of the line forming so we flagged down people who sell skip-the-line tickets in front of venues and bought from them. We were in within minutes. Again, can’t stress this enough, buy ahead, it’s worth the few extra euros and the time saved.
David is massive. I thought he was going to be around 10 feet tall, maybe. But he’s huge. You can’t take pictures inside the museum so they installed a replica where David once stood in Florence before they moved him inside. We accidentally found the open air museum where the replica stands on our first night in Florence. The open air museum is really awesome. So many statues, all for free.
After seeing David we walked towards the best thing in the entire world: the Florence Cathedral. We basically stood around staring at it for hours over the next few days. You get to hang out around, on top, inside this Cathedral in an Assassin’s Creed game. We all took a ton of pictures but without being there you can’t tell how impressive the marble colouring and the size really is. It would take like 10 minutes to walk around the entire building.
Florence doesn’t seem as big as Rome, but I liked it better. It’s pretty flat, and easy to walk around. Except for the side-walks, which don’t exist. You basically have to walk on the road or on the side-walk blocked by cars and vespas. Those are your choices. We found a 99 cent store and bought snacks. Then we went out to dinner. We ate at La Prosciutteria. It was delicious. For 20 euro they bring you a giant tray of meat, cheese, olives and bread. And you get free water. You basically can only get free water from the sides of buildings or troughs or monuments in Italy, you can’t get it from restaurants, so this was a huge deal. We scarfed the tray down so fast. I’d definitely go back here when I get the chance, the meat is nothing like our meat.
After dinner we walked around and ended up at a gelato place. We had tried 2 other gelato places in Rome but neither were very good. Our third try resulted in the best gelato I’ve ever eaten. Coronas Cafe has so many kinds of gelato and I bet they’re all great. We went back here the second night. I kept having lemon and strawberry mousse. I’m sad I don’t have any right now. I don’t think any of us got evidence of the gelato because we were so busy freaking out about how good it is.
The next day we took a train to Pisa. This was the first train mistake we did but not the last. We sat in what we thought was the Pisa train for around 50 minutes before getting off to check. Turns out we were on the right train but we could have been on a more right train 1 platform over which left every 30 minutes. Eventually we made it to Pisa, it’s a fast train ride from Florence, I recommend you do a 1/2 day trip yourself. We almost booked a tour, that would have been a mistake.
After arguing for 20 minutes about how to take a holding up the leaning tower shot we finally followed Alana onto the grass. This started a mass grass-odus. Every one who hadn’t wanted to go onto the grass because there was a sign that said Don’t Go On The Grass followed us. We snapped our pics and ran away. Pisa is a beautiful little town, it’s easy to walk around, and their side-walks look way more legit than other they do in other towns. We even found a really nice hotel to go to the bathroom in. That was maybe my favourite part of Pisa.
After we trained back we went to dinner. We ended up at Trattoria il Contadino. It’s a set menu. For $13 euro you get wine, water, and 3 courses. It’s hard to find but it’s worth it. The price is great and the food is great. I had rabbit. Dave ate the whole second rabbit. They gave me 2 rabbits!
After dinner we walked over to the Ponte Vecchio. Next time we visit Florence I definitely want to visit the bridge during the day. It has lots of shops all along it that weren’t open by the time we got there. After hanging out on the bridge we went back for gelato (duh).
The only thing we all really wanted to do in Florence that we didn’t get to was Villa di Pratolino. Apparently it’s only open some weekends throughout the summer and we were there in October on a Wednesday. It’s a bummer but we’ll definitely be going back to Florence at some point so we’ll make sure to see it then.
We all really liked Florence. Florence at night in particular. I’m not sure where tourists are going that they feel nervous or like they’re going to get robbed but I never felt like that. I liked that Pisa was so close and that trains ran so frequently. I liked that you could walk around and see so many indulgent buildings. Florence was super rich at some point and they sure know how to show it. I’d like to start in Florence next time we want to go to Italy and work north from there. I just need to learn how to deal with train mess-ups better (more on that in Venice).
Next up: part Venice. So many bridges.