Italy 2016: Florence pt. 1

Before I start rambling about Florence and also before I forget. We didn't buy any souvenirs because everything is overpriced. Trink...

Before I start rambling about Florence and also before I forget. We didn't buy any souvenirs because everything is overpriced. Trinkets and ornaments were going for 5Euros and it was just not an amount that we would like to spend. However, the night while we searched for Vatican City, we found two pop up stores selling keychains and trinkets. They were selling for 1Euro which was a very good deal. Walk from Ottaviano-San Pietro Station and you will find two trucks propped with tent, manned by a few Bangladeshi men. 

Day 1

From Rome, we took the train to Florence. I believe you can get cheaper tickets by taking Trenitalia but we settled for Italo. It was a numbered seat so we were not worried about not having any space. The journey took us about 90 minutes.

We did get confused at one point because we couldn't find our train's details. We checked at the counter and was told to check the train number. One thing we have learnt from the train and bus trips in Italy is that they will display the last destination. The other stations in between will be shown via a marquee. Our train's last stop was Verona so all we had to look for was an Italo train heading towards Verona.

Make sure to validate your tickets!

What I like about the trains in Italy is the fact that there are charging ports everywhere. Very convenient.

There are two stations named Firenze. Just make sure you alight at the correct one. 

The first difference I realised between Florence and Rome, was the weather. It was hotter in Florence than it was in Rome. The heat was blistering and boiling. We were sweating!

We had to take a bus from the station to our apartment. Here was where we got confused. We don't know where to get our tickets from. There were no machines selling bus tickets. This was where having internet saved us. We googled how to get bus tickets in Florence and found out that we can buy it from a store called Tabacchi (I'll get to this in a bit) or purchase it form the bus driver. We ended up purchasing it from the driver. Mind you, the bus was hella packed, it was very hot, we had our 17kg bags and had to push through the crowd to get those tickets. 

We depended on google to tell us where to stop. The first bus ride was a sweaty adventure.

Our apartment is a 3 minutes walk from the bus stop. Our apartment is located right next to the cinema. What I find so fascinating about Italy is that their apartments can be located at the most unexpected location. Once, we saw apartments located right next to a high end boutique. So fancy!

The Instagrammer in me was very excited for our apartment because it was bright and white. Whatever we see in the Airbnb profile, was what we got. Our hostess, Ladan, was very friendly and motherly. One night she was coming home late and we found a note by our door. She told us not to worry as she was out late with her friends. Tell me that's not cute?

Here's the link to our Florence apartment:

Our first day in Florence was uneventful. We were tired from all the travelling so we rested and only went out to find food. Our neighbourhood was quite quiet and there weren't much cafes around so we settled for supermarket food. 

Day 2

pic via Google

We planned to look for the duomo aka cathedral. The bus near our apartment goes directly to the duomo. We were told that to get bus tickets, we need to look for a store called Tabacchi or a bar. Tabacchi is their equivalent of a 7-eleven. A bar is like a convenient store which sells pastries and drinks. We went into a Tabacchi and was told that they are out of bus tickets. Now here's the thing. They can run out of bus tickets. We walked further and found a bar and stock up on tickets for the next few days. So just keep looking for a bar or Tabacchi and purchase your tickets.

Here's a sneaky tip:
We realised that no one really checks for your tickets (or we were lucky). You can get away with not buying any bus tickets (trains too although I wouldn't try). Of course do this at your risk because nobody knows when someone will check. We tried a few times and got away with it.

I didn't know that that Baptistery is just a fraction of what I was going to see because opposite that, stood the Cathedral. 

Although we had to take a bus, our apartment is very conveniently located. We only had to take one bus to the train station and the duomo. We alighted at the duomo's bus stop (conveniently named Duomo) and walked along the streets and alleys. I cannot quite put a finger on Florence's charm. It felt flowery. I know I don't make sense but you have to be there to feel it.

Then, I was greeted by the duomo herself. I am not exaggerating but the moment I saw the it, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Imagine being surprised by something so beautiful and majestic. Something you have only heard and seen of in pictures. It took a while for me to regain my composure. We just stood at a corner for a moment to bask in the whole atmosphere. Right then, I felt all my heartaches being washed away. You really can't be selfish in the presence of something so great.

After getting our senses back, we saw that entrance to the duomo is free! You'll know a Singaporean if you hear them say, "Eh it's free! Go in lah!" That was us and we did. Attire to the duomo is strict as with all holy buildings. We swift past security since we were all covered up. We saw other tourists struggling to look modest near the entrance, which was a funny little sight.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the main church of Florence, Italy. The cathedral is mostly Gothic (year built 1296 - 1436) although its white, green and pink marble decorations has many Romanesque features as well.

Upon entering the building, I was in awe of the sights that greeted me. It was my first experience entering a church. I fell in love with the high ceiling. We took a short walk around the main area of the church.

Everywhere we walked, we saw people carrying boutique paper bags so we followed the crowd and landed ourselves at Piazza della Repubblica where we found Zara, Michael Kors and the likes. We ended up spending a little bit of time there, listening to street performers, had our meal and just absorbing the sights.

It was still early when we left Piazza della Repubblica so we decided to look for the famous Michelangelo statue. Google Map kept bringing us to the wrong direction and we ended up at the train station. It was almost 10pm when we reached the train station so we decided to head home and try again the next day.


We spent 4 days in Florence and if I continue writing, you will probably get tired. I shall continue next time. Wait for part two of Florence and Pisa!



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