Just a quick post before we rush to board our train for Venice.
Florence is amazing. Nothing I read about it could prepare me for this city. Most of the city is a series of narrow streets… Very, very narrow streets. If we wouldn’t have boarded the wrong bus yesterday I wouldn’t even know there was a new part of the city.
Even though the streets are narrow, buses run through them. I think it is all one way and so haven’t come across a traffic jam. Of course, after 2 days it can get unnerving.
We are staying in the host’s house which is very centrally located and close to all the good sites of the city. Everything is a few streets away and markets are close by. The apartment is a 3bhk with 2 bathrooms, a huge living room, balcony and creepy corridor. There are such huge locks on each door- room, house and staircase; and it takes us 5 mins to lock and unlock each one.
This is such a good idea- rent out an extra bedroom and bath to travellers. And the home stays here are better than the ones in India.
We headed to the Duomo first. Our host gave us a map and marked out the best places to visit and good restaurants around. The duomo is a huge church, the entry to which is free. When we went inside we realised why… Inside is quite ordinary. But the church is the centre of the city. In the evenings people flock to the cafes around it, there are artists playing music, painters sketching etc.
We decided to go check out a famous bridge. While looking for it we came across the gallery of the academy. All the shops – high end, boutiques, regular brands etc are around this place. There is a museum too whose entry is 8 Euros.
We managed to find A bridge and realised it doesn’t matter which one it is. They all look the same. Quite a waste of our time and effort.
So we headed for Piazza Michaelangelo which has great views of the city. We decided to take a bus there since by now we were exhausted. We waited and waited and when a bus didn’t turn up decided to just walk. That is Florence for you… It is easier to just walk everywhere.
Rule of thumb here – bargain like crazy. I wanted a poster of Leonardo Da Vinci’s man. The guy told me it is 20 Euros but for me he will make it 15 Euros. When he heard am from India he brought it to 10 Euros and I hadn’t even started bargaining yet. He gave it for 5 Euros in the end. The Africans and Bangladeshis will bargain, the Italians won’t.
The next day in the evening we went shopping and bought leather purses and belts from the flea market at San Lorenzo. Florence is a good place to buy leather stuff. There are so many shops for leather goods. You can buy leather jackets too but only if you are willing to shell out atleast 100 Euros.
We were in Pisa yesterday morning. I had booked tickets to go on top of the leaning tower a day earlier. The tickets were available only for 10 am and cost 18 Euros each. We boarded a double decker train from Florence which takes an hour to Pisa. A train runs every 30 mins and tickets costs 8 Euros. On the train we had to pay a fine because we didn’t validate our tickets. So, buying a ticket is not enough…. You have to go look for a machine which will punch a hole into it. Great!!!! Amazingly, this detail is mentioned on the back of the ticket instead of front.
The leaning tower is a few stops away from the station. It is just a tower which leans. I was quite worried because the ticket mentioned that we have to come on time and carry a print out. We had defaulted on both. The guy at ticket counter tried to pretend like we had done something illegal but let us climb the tower anyway. We climbed 257 steps to reach the top and the view was nothing great. Avoidable. Go to Pisa, see the tower but don’t pay to go to the top.
– Food in Italy
– Trip to Italy – cost and how to plan