We made our way through the rain to Turin’s station. We split up to wait in seperate lines for train tickets. A guy in a closed ticket window beckoned Janet over, and got us two second-class tickets on the next Eurostar. It was a confusing enough transaction, where the price kept changing, and in the end we had three tickets – one for the two of us to Milan, one from there to Firenze, which is what the Italianos call Florence, and a third one which was the supplement we paid for Eurostar Italia. We made the train – despite my dyslexic tendancies to think we were bound for Venicia – and things were pretty zippy. We figured out the three tickets, and decided that while Eurostar is nice, we’d prefer to ride the slower trains that don’t cost extra.
Two of the hotels reccomended by Lonely Planet were in a three-story building that housed six seperate one-star hotels. We booked a room in the first one that we could find a person manning the reception, paying 62€, saving ourselves 10€ by not splurging for a private bath. The room felt like one in a hostel with four single beds, and a long list of rules posted on the wall explaining that we were not allowed to invite our friends over to drink alcohol. I clarified that the room was indeed private, and we pushed two of the beds together.
We spent the rest of the afternoon getting lost in the markets, checking out restaurants, grazing on snacks, and scoping out Internet access for the laptop. We found a suitable replacement for my hat, this time in grey, for 10€. That evening we had pasta and wine at a covered outdoor table at a nice little restaurant where the waiter gave us a discount for paying with cash.
After breakfast the next morning, we decided to try our luck at one of the other hotels in the building. We spent the next two nights at 60€ apiece at the nicer Marini Hotel, a floor below, where they had a wall of clocks set for different time zones, a wall of movie stars’ pictures, and a current poster for Firenze’s daily train departures.
We wandered near and far in the rain. We found a couple of good places that would allow a portable computer on the Internet for a very reasonable price. At one point, I fed birds by kicking around the crusty bread someone had tossed in the park, and mashing it in to edible-sized pieces with my foot. We toured the Duomo, which was very pretty, but we could not figure out where we could climb to the top. We stumbled upon the tower adjacent to the Duomo, and climbed that to the top instead, as the skies cleared, and became sunny, affording us a splendid view. We spotted the line that we would have waited in to climb to the top of the Duomo, and I congratulated us in falling in to an equally wonderful view without waiting in line. Just as we were done seeing Florence from above, it began to rain again. Fate was smiling upon us.
We acquired salami, mozerella, bread and wine for dinner, and enjoyed some tasty sandwiches during a quiet evening together.
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Whilst in Florence I could not keep my eyes off the cute little Fiats that were driving all over the place. Two are in this picture.
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An umbrella-toting crowd on the streets of Florence.
We decided to check out the Uffizi Gallery, but the line was long and nasty, so we gave it a pass. We wandered through more rain, checking out the funky Ponte Vechio, a bridge over the Arno River with little jewelry shops growing off of its sides. Janet has a degree in Horticuture, and wanted to check out the Giardino di Boboli, across the river. Through the rain we wandered, uphill, uphill … to Piazzale Michelangelo, where we were afforded pretty, overcast views of Florence. We continued wandering across the south hill, looking for the garden, but when we finally found it, it was closed, as we continued our wide arc through the South of the city, back North across the river, and home to the hotel.
That evening we stumbled on a splendid little restaurant where we ate very well for 12€ each from the tourist menu, which earned us two courses, a side dish, dessert, wine, and bread. This experience was an extremely pleasant conclusion to our last evening in Florence.
Rocket Arena Multiplayer Gaming Zone
Via A. Lamarmora 23 (Telephone 055 576 991)
Cool little gamer’s den on the East Side, said they’d connect a laptop. Prices were reasonable.
Planet Web Internet Point
Borgo Albizi 66 rosso (Telephone 055 245706)
A funky little dive with super-cheap connections; 2€ per hour before 11:30 am and 3€ per hour after. Support for laptops, Japanese and Korean keyboards, and CD burning. Their bandwidth and latency sucked ass while I was there, but it was sufficient for e-mail.
Via Zannoni, 10r (Telephone 055 21 61 12)
Friendly, cozy place with an excellent 12€ tourist menu.