Italy 1999: Postcard 5 - A Day in Florence


I got up reasonably early, dragged the suitcase to the station, and caught the next train to Mestre, where I would have to change trains for Bologna.

The trip was just under 2 hours and passed through fairly flat Italian countryside. At Bologna station I caught a taxi to the hotel which is on the outskirts of Bologna near where the company is based. The guy at the reception desk remembered me from a couple of years ago, and the people at the hotel call me Mr Craig. I just made it in time for lunch at the hotel restaurant, and they obliged me with a spaghetti carbonara, even though it was not on the menu.


I awoke earlyish, but got going slowly. Had brekky downstairs, and got ready to head out. Unfortunately I found that the buses do not run on Sundays, and had to get a taxi to the station. Bought a ticket to Florence for L 13,700 and got on the next train. The next train was a Eurostar, but I got on anyway, figuring they would just charge me something extra if required. I was indeed busted by the ticket man, and charged an extra 18,000 for the trip! I did get a free packet of bikkies though. It was a nice train, quiet and fast - however they were expensive bikkies.

At Florence I picked up a free map from McDonalds at the station. From the station I walked to the Academia gallery. There were lots of people in town, mostly tourists. There were also people selling crafts, watches, sunglasses etc on the street, beggars, and the odd gypsy. The tourists were hanging on tightly to their bags and cameras, and it was not the nicest feeling when walking around. The gallery had a queue to get in, but it moved quite quickly. Once inside it was not too crowded, and the air was cool. I saw David in all his glory and lots of old paintings. Flash photos were not allowed inside, but most people either didn't take notice, or didn't know how to turn off their flash anyway. The Italian caretaker was forever walking around announcing 'no flash, no flash'. He was fighting a loosing battle, because as soon as he got the message across to one group, they would move off and another arrive and start flashing away. I then took a meandering path to the Ponte Vecchio bridge. I walked over the bridge, around the other side and then headed back towards the station. It was very hot walking the town, and I had had enough by that stage.

I got a nice train back, which was heading for Zurich. It was L 23,000 for the ticket and the train was as good as the Eurostar inside - the seats even have headphone sockets like planes have, as well as power points for your laptop or whatever! At least the ticket was correct for the seat and train, but I had forgotten to stamp and validate it - I can't bloody win with this train system.

After arriving back at Bologna, I walked around town and up to the town square. Many locals were sitting around the square and I joined them and rested in the shade for a while. Later on I went looking for somewhere for dinner, as the hotel restaurant was not open on Sundays. I found a Chinese restaurant close to the square and thought I would give it a go for a change again. I ordered a spring roll, wonton soup, and sweet and sour pork with rice (not much of a change!). It was all OK, but not as good as Lees Garden in Richmond back home. After stocking up on Lire cash at an ATM, I caught a taxi back to the hotel. It was off to bed reasonably early ready for work in the morning.


Click on the pictures for a larger image

1. Farmland on the way to Bologna
2. View from hotel balcony in evening
3. Statue of David, Florence
4,5. Inside Academia Gallery, Florence
6. Florence
7. Cafe, Florence
8. Ponte Vecchio, Florence
9. Town Square, Bologna

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