Italy · 13 Days · 20 Moments · October 2016

16 October 2016

Local travel You have metro, tram and bus lines. Wound up using the bus connection the most. You can purchase the tickets for the bus on board but it'll cost you 2€, 1.50€ from the bus company app or site and 1.20€ if you buy it at local grocery stores. You need to validate the ticket by inserting it into the yellow box inside the bus which will print the date and time on the ticket. This makes your ticket valid and can be used for 90 mins from this point. So, you can buy them in advance at grocery store - you even get options for a day ticket for one/two people etc. which is cheaper and then use them when you have to. Similarly, tram tickets need to be purchased from the machine available in each tram station and then validated. The box to validate the ticket is generally present near the driver's seat and in the centre of the vehicle. Ticket checkers randomly ask people for their validated tickets at stops and tourists tend to be their first pick 😏

5 October 2016

Places around Florence: Pisa -If you want to climb to the top, you might want to buy the tickets in advance. Though on the day I went, there was no queue at all. The complex contains a cathedral, museum, baptistery and a cemetry. The baptistery has an acoustics demonstration by the staff (lasts about 15 secs) which you might want to check if you go there. Siena - the cathedral is impressive with work by Donatello, Michelangelo, Bernini. Siena is divided into 17 districts aka contrade, each of which is named after an animal. Renowned for Palio horserace, which occurs twice a year. Famous souvenirs would be the ceramic work and saffron. Chianti vineyards and San Gimignano (nicknamed Medieval Manhattan) are also places worth a visit. These places can be combined in a day trip. At San Gimignano, there is a very famous Gelateria di Piazza (no. 4), where you get some unique gelato flavours which are a must try. There is also jewellery - made from Agata stones which make a good buy.
The famous Gelateria at San Gimignano - known for innovative flavours such as Lavender, Saffron Cream etc. The view from top of the tower and around. Agatha stones - lovely jewellery made from these colourful stones
Chianti Vineyards
Siena shots - featuring us 😊
Siena cathedral - impressive façade. The inlaid marble work on the floor of the cathedral is displayed for public view only for a short duration in the year. We got lucky 😃

4 October 2016

Head up to Piazzale Michelangiolo for a splendid view of Florence. It does involve walking up some steep roads and climbing steps (check the photos if you are not convinced its worth the effort). Tip - go during sunset to enjoy a magnificent view and to see the monuments light up once it gets dark. Other places to see include Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, Ponte Vecchio - medieval stone bridge with lots of jewellery shops and view over river Arno, Museo di Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery (located in the same area). There is also a Gucci museum and one dedication to Leonardo da Vinci in the vicinity.
The climb up and the view from Piazzale Michelangiolo. You can see Ponte Vecchio, cathedral, duomo and other landmarks all lit up.
Florence shots
There are some good options near the Cathedral. Mister Pizza offers good options at pocket friendly rates from 5.5€ Gillis (located in Savoy Hotel lane) is a great find for desserts. You get delicious desserts such has tiramisu, Panna cota and other delicacies for 3€ at the bakery adjoining their restaurant. At Piazzale Michelangiolo, there is La Loggia which is good. Got to enjoy ravioli and tagliatelle with season's best mushrooms. Price for two dishes came to 30€ , we decided to treat ourselves a bit 😊Food and ambience was great. Funiculi at Il Prato (15 mins walk fm station)is another pocket friendly option. The Pana Cota was the highlight of our meal.
A tip if you want to save time and avoid standing in long queues - book the entrance tickets online. At the Cupola and at Galleria Accademia, we had to wait for an hour in queue. Online tickets or priority tickets are limited for each day (hence booking few days in advance is recommended) and might cost 3-4€ but saves you time if you want to cover more places in a day. At the Cathedral, there is an all inclusive ticket for 15€ which covers access to all of the places. Entrance to the cathedral is free. Be prepared to climb 463 steps up the cupola (dome) and 414 steps up the tower. Else, purchase separate tickets. There are guides outside Galleria who charge 35-45€ for a guided tour. (They'll tell you that in the regular line, you'll take 3 hrs to get in, though it took us little over an hour😏) Tickets booked in advance cost 12€ (regular ticket is 8€). Audio guide is 6€ though there are descriptions below the paintings. The statue of David by Michelangelo is impressive.
Dinner at La Loggia and city sights at Florence

3 October 2016

The pizza and spaghetti at Mister Pizza, lane next to cathedral was decent and nominally priced. The Gilli restaurant has a small bakery where you can get fab desserts such as Tiramisu, Panna Cota etc. for 3€. Its 8€ if you order it at their restaurant, so if you are looking at saving money, get your desserts at the bakery adjoining the restaurant.
From shops selling variety of pasta to a Lindt chocolate shop (yup, you read that right), the sights and sounds around the cathedral was enticing. I was overwhelmed by the options at Lindt store. Many flavours that were new. I probably looked delirious 😜 There were some very talented street musicians adding a lively tone to the evening and mesmerising those who were watching or even passing by.
Florence Museum
Sculptures from Florence
The sights around the Cathedral. The sunset and view of the city is from the top of the cupola - 463 stairs to reach. The view and the climb are both breathtaking. 😜
Florence cathedral - an impressive sight. Various frescos adorn the cathedral and baptistery.
On board the Italotreno from Venice to Florence