Wednesday, June 19, 2013


It was very hot when we arrived in Florence - 34C under brilliant sun and equally brilliant blue skies. We took a taxi from the station to our hotel, which was located on the second floor of a four floor "apartment" building. This arrangement is fairly typical of economy hotels in Europe - ours was rated as a three star hotel. It had four single beds, two of which were pushed together to form a double bed. The bathroom was very clean and relatively new. Although the room itself was a little dark, and could have used some fresh paint, we paid the equivalent of just $380.00 CDN for two nights, which also included a very substantial continental breakfast.

From the terrace of our hotel

Our intention was to do a quick overview of the city, because it was a last minute thought. Originally we had planned to go back to Rome and stay in a hotel for two nights there, before catching our flight home. A great change of plans, even though it did make our Monday very busy, because we had to take a train from Florence to Rome and then a shuttle train to the airport.

The Arno river and the Tuscan Hills

The only major glitch in the travel plans so far has been that we had booked tickets before we left Canada for the Monday trains and we did it before our flight times had been changed. When we checked our flight schedule a few days before we were to leave on holiday, we found out that our plane was leaving an hour and a half earlier. It was too late to change our train tickets. However, we were told that we could easily change them in Italy - not so.

We contacted our travel agent and he said that we should buy new tickets. Get the original ones stamped as "unused" and then apply for a refund on our travel insurance. In reading the fine print we realized that we had to cancel these tickets in the city of departure - Florence, so we spent another few hours at the train station here trying to sort this out.

Mountains of Gelato

We were again told that we couldn't change them. (We knew this. We just thought we would try again. Things are not that rigid in Italy and information given in one place could vary dramatically from that given in the another.)  Yes, we couldn't change them, but we could travel and hour earlier or later on the same tickets, for a small fee, which we could pay on the train. BINGO!  This is all we needed to give us breathing space for the flight. We were originally told the cost to change the tickets would be €80.00. However, when we actually paid the money, it was only €32.00.

A small section of the Duomo.

My husband's comment was, "How do they control seating and capacity, if you can rearrange your plans like this, at the last moment?" Here is where you do the Mediterranean "shrug," throw up your hands, and don't even attempt to explain the inexplicable!!!  How they ever managed to unite the whole of Europe, as a common entity, is beyond amazing!!

Just as aside here. On another trip, I don't think that I would book train tickets from overseas. First of all they booked "first class" for us - definitely not necessary and you miss out on deals that might be available at the time. Yes you may have to get in line to buy the tickets (do this a day or two before your departure day.) However, when you leave, you just activate your ticket at one of the many machines on the platforms and "Roberto's your uncle."  :)

The video is for a wonderful blogger that I follow Caro Ness, who writes almost all her posts in poetry.

The Bells of Tuscany

Verses and stanzas
Say the bells of Firenza.

More tomorrow, with pictures of food.

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