26 March 2016

Florence bound

Towards the Tuscan Capital - Italian Diaries 3

We left a sunny but breezy Venice behind (why does the weather always seem to improve when you leave a place?) We were bound for Tuscany and its capital Florence. Venice had served us well. A city full of charm and hidden surprises. Will we return? Well I would certainly be happy to spend a day or two there again. So in my book that's a thumbs up. 

I had been looking forward to this leg of the journey. Having previously worked in the travel business selling train tickets across Europe (had all the glam jobs me!) The Venice to Florence route is a well trodden route and often cropped up. So finally I was to experience it for myself. Oh this journey that had been the bane of my early working life!  

Italian trains
The Frecciarossa ETR500
Fast Train to Florence
We took the FrecciaRossa service between the two cities. With a train reaching speeds of  300km/h and a journey of just over 2hrs, the Italian countryside was going to be a bit of a blur. Trust our luck that we were delayed and instead of seeing a blurred Italian countryside, we saw the grubby Venice platform! That said the delay wasn't to hamper our eventual pleasure of watching the Italian countryside wizz by in a flash. 

Top Tip 3: Be aware of your belongings at Venice station. There were a large number of what appeared to be "very helpful" people operating the platforms. Clearly not station staff. Perhaps I was being paranoid but precautions should always be taken.

As for the train, well comfortable seats certainly helped. And taking a walk along the train to the spacious and pleasant buffet car made for a welcome change of scenery. It's probably not a good idea to compare different countries transport systems, as they are all so different, but I've had the privilege of riding some of the worlds best. The Shinkansen (Japan),  TGV (France) and ICE trains (Germany) to name a few. Showing just a little of my geeky "travel" side here! I digress, I found the Italian service was certainly on a par with these more prestigious services and comes recommended. But isn't traveling by train the best way to see the world anyway? 

Venturing into the unknown
Ok, so we've been here for less than an hour and I can already tell that I'm going to like Florence. It has a pleasant, almost laid back feel. Oh and everybody looked so chic and fashionable. Something which I am certainly not! As we headed out I half expected boats to get in our way, having just come from the canals of Venice but no it was mainly mopeds! Today was again about venturing, getting to know this wonderful city before we attack it properly tomorrow morning. We headed straight for the tourist hot spots. Taking in the famous bridge (Ponte Vecchio) and the enjoying the imposing (Florence Cathedral.) Although we were to explore the cathedral and bell tower tomorrow. As well as seeking out our daily espresso fix. 

Ponte Vecchio
Along the Arno River
So much culture!
Our brief time here as already taught us that Florence is a city that takes great pride in its art and culture. It's statues and magnificent buildings perfectly emphasizing that point. You sense in the local people overwhelming pride in their city and its treasures. So what's not to like? Cobbled roads, opulent buildings on every street corner, wonderful cafes'. I could go on and on. 

Tomorrow we take in the sights in more detail before heading off to Pisa and Lucca. So we head for some shut eye, although that was to prove difficult with my noisy neighbours above my room dragging chairs around as if it was some kind of new sport! Oh well, sleep finally came, thankfully. Tomorrow was a full on "tourist day".

I hope you are enjoying these diaries as much as I am writing them? Thank you to all who have commented and your continued support. 


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