As luck would have it, our beautiful and unexpected sunny weather has disappeared. We woke up this morning to sunny skies but by the time we hit Florence, the sun had turned to clouds and the clouds were filled with rain.
As we bid farewell to Rome, we headed to Termini Station expecting the worst. Crowded, dirty, confusing and full of pick-pockets. Well, as it turns out, not so much. Yes it was busy but it was as clean as any train station I've been in and it was perfectly safe. Cameras every 100 feet or so and crawling with Polizia. Clearly this place had a bad rep in the past, but those days seem far behind it now. Only 29 tracks, all on the same level, our fears of schlepping luggage up and down stairs were unrealized. The reader boards were easy to read and we boarded our train with ease.
The ride was smooth and quick. Averaging about 220 KM/hr there was not much opportunity to take pictures of the great Italian countryside.
Since we booked it, we were very curious about our hotel. Listed as a 16th century palace, the hotel has been part of the owner's family for generations. After a complete restoration in 2002 the palace has been hosting guests. Every one of their 12 rooms is a suite. We absolutely love this place. We are just on the other side of the Ponte alla Carraia, about 5 minutes from the more famous Ponte Vecchio. You can feel the history in this place and it's incredible to be housed in a place with such history. You can read more about it here.
After getting ourselves settled in, we headed out to explore Firenze. Since we are only here for a very short period of time, we wanted to see the Duomo. As it turns out, everyone else in Florence wanted to see it too and we didn't feel like waiting in line. We'll come back on Friday when we have a bit more patience.
(Speaking of Friday, I'm licking my lips at all of the great handbag and shoe stores in this town. I am ready to spend some money! I bought nothing in Rome and have been saving all of my money for Florence.)
A quick walk to Piazza San Lorenzo to see the Medici's yielded the same results. The line was not that long but they wanted 6 Euro each to get in so we opted to pass for now. After grabbing dinner we headed back to the hotel to unpack and get ready for tomorrow.
We have booked ourselves a tour of the Tuscan countryside for tomorrow. Yes, three cities in 12 hours, one of which is Pisa. If we had more time here then we would likely stay overnight in Siena and/or San Gimignano. HOWEVER-we are only here for TWO DAYS so our options are limited.
1812 "excellent" reviews on Trip Advisor can't be wrong. It is the #3 most popular thing to do in Florence after the Statue of David and a Cinque Terre Tour with the same company. If it weren't pouring down rain, we may have opted for Cinque Terre, but rain is definitely a deterrent.
Is it ideal? No, but it's what we've got to work with and it seems like this is our best option to see the most stuff. Pisa is the last stop in the day and from what I've read, not much time is spent here except to see the tower and do the goofy poses. We'll get a tour of a family owned winery and have a catered Tuscan style lunch as well. We are looking forward to it. I have faith in the 1800 reviews that say it is worth it. We'll let you know tomorrow!
Missing my puggies bunches. Hoping they miss us just a little bit too and they aren't driving their Oma too nutty.