Into Florence then out of Florence
Days 143 & 144
Today we left Rome for Florence. Asked our guest host on check out about trains or traino he said in Italian. He rang his friend who works for the trains. Quite easy, catch the train to Termini and then change for the Train Italia long haul service. He was a great host.
We caught the train relatively easy. The long haul station resembles an airport with people transiting in all sorts of directions. I got approached by a girl who I thought worked for the railway, she had a uniform, sort of. She was actually a ‘fake’ helper. She got our tickets and got us to the terminal then asked for 5 euro. I actually didn’t have 5 euro to give as the tickets were $45 Euro per adult and $30 Euro per child (I didn’t realize train tickets would be that expensive) so I gave her the change I had in my pocket but then she threw it back at me.
I thought that was a bit rough so I just walked away from her as she yelled abuse in Italian. Lucky the girls were not in ear shot but when I caught up Summer abused me for the blow up saying ‘how long have you travelled for? You should have known she was going to ask for money’. I really had no idea, she seemed really genuine. Anyway we got our second class tickets for the bullet train.
It was very comfortable, however we were allocated 4 separate seats, luckily on the same carriage. We managed to get the girls together and Summer and I just stood and hung around till all the other passengers settled. Only then were we able to get close together. I struck up a conversation with a NZ couple that where great. That made the trip go quick, but really it was the crazy speed, at times up to 246 kmph.
When we went through the mountains and through long tunnels my ears were popping bad. Anyway got into Florence and sure enough it was packed just like Rome. We could not find accommodation for a reasonable price. Went over to the information centre, they hooked us up with accommodation in the city centre for $150 Euro a night. We didn’t take this and tried their free wifi. We found one and quickly walked up there and asked on the spot $80 Euro + $20 for breakfast. Sold we took the room and lucky for us was able to check straight in.
We settled and asked if we could stay the following night, he said no availability at the moment but would check and let us know. We dumped the bags and went for a walk around town. It was packed full of tourists. We couldn’t believe how busy it was. We walked past our local shopping area which had heaps of leather street stalls. It was really nice stuff but starting at $300 Euro for a handbag? Could have bargained him down I am sure but we were just window shopping.
We made our way to Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The big one in the centre of town. It was massive so we went inside for a look, truly impressive. Plenty of neck stretching done again.
We walked to the Piazza della Signoria to see the fake statue of David done by Michelangelo. After looking at some statues in the square we went into the museum to see how much it would cost to see the real David. Then it decided to smash down with rain. I mean really pour and windy. Lucky we were inside and the girls were able to play in the wind corridor created at the massive entrance doors. Their hair was going everywhere and kept everyone entertained during the down pour.
It didn’t last long and then we were back outside checking out the other statues including an enormous one of Neptune in a fountain.
We then made our way to the river and walked over the bridge to a local area called Piazza Santo Spirito. It was recommended for a cheap feed, so we picked out a restaurant and had some pizza’s. Was nice but not as cheap as I had hoped. Anyway we left and walked back to the hotel got back for shower and bed approx. 2130.
Unfortunately we have to leave the hotel this morning and Florence. No one cancelled making a room available to us, so we had the breakfast and was on the wifi looking for our next place in Tuscany. The issue was there was just nothing in our price range around Florence, so we had to get creative. We booked 38 km out of Florence in the hills of Tuscany at a town called Dicomano.
We found a working farm Fattoria Il Lago. Booked it straight away. Now check in wasn’t until 1700 so we still had half a day in Florence to check a few more things out. So we checked out of the hotel left our luggage in their storage area and went for a stroll around town.
We were in no particular hurry to do anything just soaking it all in. It is a really easy going, nice place Florence, whereas Rome was incredible for all its famous landmarks it is also busy, just too hectic, full of tourists and you just felt like you were always fighting the crowd wherever you went. Florence is that one step back, it is a little more relaxing than Rome, doesn’t have as many tourists, still a lot but you can easily take a step back and relax.
We went to try the ‘only in Florence Lamprodoto Panini‘ for lunch. This is a panini bread roll, halved, the centre taken out, filled full of meat and tripe that has been sitting on the boil in a pot, topped with pesto gravy and chilli flakes. Didn’t look real appetizing when he pulled the meat out and started to cut it up, lucky the kids didn’t see it come out. I could see the look on Summers face, I am not going to eat that but I had just ordered 3 of these and suddenly didn’t feel particularly hungry myself. After one bite it was actually quite nice.
The 2 girls went halves in 1, Summer ate most of hers and I finished off hers and mine. We later found out that this is made from the fourth stomach of the cow…
Walked over the Ponte Vecchio bridge, then wondered back to collect our bags over to train station next stop Dicomano.
Arrived Dicomano approx. 1630 and thought we would just get a cab to the farm. No cabs here we were left to walk. It is very hilly I would say 2km winding road straight up the hill to the farm, it was hard work lugging these bags up the hill. Lucky for us the owner of the farm was coming up the hill in his work ute. He stopped to offer us a lift and only spoke Italian to us but we could understand it was for a lift up the hill. Bags in the back with Autumn and I.
We got to reception. It was just around the corner, so that means we would have done 1.5 of the 2km. We were greeted by the owner’s son who actually runs the farm. We didn’t know originally it was all a bit lost in translation until the son said (its OK he is my father, he is a good guy you can leave the bags in the truck) lucky for us we did. During check in the son realised we had no food or means to get down or back up the hill. So after check in his father dropped us off in our 2 bedroom villa, which is another 1km up the hill.
We settled in to a beautiful old building with awesome views over the country side. Next thing the son arrives and offers to take Summer back into town for some supplies. Lucky for us he did and a very nice gesture. Summer got enough for dinner and breakfast the next day and bought pizza for our first night as we were all too tired to wait for cooked food. On the drive he said to Summer if we don’t like it we can leave tomorrow no problem, because of access. The thing is we both actually really loved how remote it was. Settled in and relaxed watching a nice sunset over the hills, in the fresh country air of Tuscany.