Where: Pisa & Florence
Who: Mr & Mrs Wanderlust
When: April 2019
What: EU Trip Series Part 2: Pisa & Florence, Italy ; Read more to see how we made it DIY to Pisa and Florence from Rome
Welcome to the 2nd part of our EU trip series, if you want to backread you can go and read on Rome by clicking the back button below:
But for this page, we are going to write about Florence / Firenze as well as Pisa, and our DIY guide for it.
Straight from our hotel where we checkout in Rome, Together with our huge luggages on tow just 2 blocks away where the Termini train station is at. This is where we have our pre booked ticket Rome to Florence for 9:AM. At this point all you have to do with your ticket was to check the train and platform number and proceed your way.
We decided to stay in Florence for at least a night as we love to feel that captivating small old city vibe that Firenze has to offer. Plus this is also the birthplace of Renaissance period.
Rome was great, but somehow becomes too touristy, after all, it is the epicenter of one of the greatest civilizations millennias ago. On the other hand, Florence, still got a lot of love from massive tourists, but usually only as a day tour destination on the way to bigger cities like Milan. So as the night falls, only a few tourists and its locals are around.
How To Get There
Getting there is a breeze as long as you have your ticket pre booked. Which was what we did, and being a tourist that we are, we have no idea yet how to look at the ticket and what to check on the board good thing there are helpdesks and taught us how to figure which train and platform to catch but still listen to announcements as platform numbers may still change like what happened to us, when we are already inside the train with our luggages only to find out our train on different platform so we had to run all over again to a the other train with all our luggages, whew!
Rome to Florence more or less 2 hours by train so leaving early morning can guarantee us early arrival to Florence, check in our hotel, deposit our luggage, grabbed a quick lunch so we can still continue to head on to Pisa for a quick afternoon trip because Pisa is just another hour and a half away.
No need to worry though as train to Pisa station from Firenze S.M.
Note: Again, if you purchased the ticket on the day (an open time ticket) it is necessary that you Validate it before riding the train, as if it gets checked by the conductor without validation, you will get fined! (except if purchased online in advance, it is already validated, so you can ask train company's helpdesk around the station just to be sure)
Then upon arriving to Pisa Centrale station, we still have to take either shuttle bus or Taxi to the Leaning tower which was about 30minute walk away, so we chose taxi as we have no more time and idea to figure out about the shuttle bus tickets and the stops etc.
Taxi around Pisa Centrale train station has a uniform price for those going to the Leaning Tower.
Same thing for going back, we tried to buy ticket on auto ticket machine near the bus stop but figured it still easier to take the cab back to the station.
Protip: Don't go hailing a taxi just anywhere as big cities like these have designated taxi spots that you see with sign and people on queue.
Where To Stay:
Florence, it is a laid back city, yet still a tourist spot so hotel rates get higher around the main areas like Duomo where you get views of the tourist places right on your window, but we just preferred the nearest location, but still great value for money, and so we found a nice room with a older design with the Florentine touch. And it is a plus because just a couple of meter's walk away you can see the dome.
Mr & Mrs Wanderlust's rating
A view of the duomo in our room would be nice but it proves a bit out of our budget so we just look a few streets away, and great to find a hotel that is also historical as it used to be owned by the Martelli family which was also a prominent family in Florence back in the 16th century.
+ Easy Check-In, even gave us a room earlier (12noon) so we can deposit our luggages
+ Hotel has elevator to bring luggages up (not very common for older hotels)
+ Staff were all helpful
+ Hotel a bit old, with historical value! Yet still maintain nice design
+ Room was spacious, bed was old-ish wooden
+ Plus points if room has big traditional windows that can be opened as we want cool fresh air
+ Bathroom was also good, though a bit weird interior and sliding door but still nice.
+ Wifi was working alright, same with cable TV
+ Breakfast was okay, but very limited choices.
+ Very good location as it is just a walk away from the Duomo, and near many shops around.
- Old wooden bed was a bit dusty at the back, and made noises when moving
- Room gets scary because its old, but you get used to it, just open window for fresh air
Price: €€ - 115 EU+ / night for 2 pax
Service: 4 star - Service/staff were all good, just sometimes you leave key and no one there
Facilities & Amenities: 3 star - old design rooms is nice, but old wooden bed needs clean/repair
Restaurant (foods): 2 star -Very few choices for breakfast, and no restaurant
Bar: 1 star - No bars in the hotel,consider looking for many outside
Overall: 2.5 /5
What To Do:
Firenze (or Florence in English), capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is the place to see a lot of masterpieces of the Renaissance period when it comes to their art & architecture. Of course, its most iconic sight is the Duomo, which is a cathedral made with terracotta-tiled dome by Brunelleschi as its engineer and the bell tower by Giotto. The Galleria Accademia displays the original Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture indoor to protect it from outdoors. Though in the Piazza dela Signiora you can settle for the statue of David.
1. See Italy's famous Leaning Tower of Pisa
Italy will have a Pisa your heart once you see the leaning tower. But this is a different city than Florence and you still have to travel an hour and a half to get to Pisa.
There are many available day tours from Florence, etc. but decided to just rough it out and Do it ourselves, and just do some readings and download audio guides to learn something from our travel to the city of Pisa - the birthplace of the Father of Modern Science - Galileo Galilei.
Cathedral di Pisa in which its Campanille or freestanding bell tower, had a 4 degree tilt due to unstable foundation. You can also chill out and gaze at the medieval buildings that have been there since the 14th century at the Piazza which is the huge grassy green space around the area.
2. See the huge dome Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
There is an old saying that "All roads lead to the Duomo" and it is actually true, all the roads in the area does lead to the very spacious plaza, filled with corner souvenir shops and cafes and restaurants all have a nice view of the church. Don't let our photos fool you as the Cathedral is massive, afterall, it is the 3rd largest church in the world. 1st is in Vatican, 2nd is St. Paul's in London.
In it is one of culturally and historically significant places in Florence as this was the center of power centuries ago. And its big red dome seen from almost all parts of the city says it all. Pictures can't even justify how massive the church is as much as it is captivating because you'd stop and think how old it is and wonder how they have built this massive structures with no modern machines.
3. Stroll around Piazza della Signoria
This L shaped piazza is actually along the heart of Florence, is the meeting place of most Florentines as well as tourists. It is right accross Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza del Duomo and gateway to Uffizi Gallery. Take note though that the David sculpture there is just a reproduction wherein the real old statue is housed inside the Galleria Accademia to protect it from outdoor weather. Though we have not much time for the Uffizi and Galleria (such uncultured people!) we had enough time to stroll around its streets.
4. Hangout at Piazza della Republica
The old city town square / forum where has many shops, as well as attractions for, a very busy space bustling with tourists and locals alike.
There are a couple more of places to see in Florence that we may have missed such as insides of palaces, museums and galleries and instead hung out on the different piazzas but all in all we are happy with what we have seen and experienced in Florence, then again given more time we should've added one more day here, but since we have to leave so soon for the next destination which is Venice, so have to prepare ourselves and our things for the next day's trip.
Spending a night in Florence may have felt a bit short, but it was great, lovely, dreamy...we could go on with the adjectives but little by little with just staying a few days on just 2 cities, Italy is captivating our hearts.
* $100 USD = €89 EUROS (as of April 2019)
Accommodation - High End - € 500+++
Accommodation - Mid - €100 - €200
Accommodation -Budget - Less €100 but may be lower depending on haw far area from center
Transport - Taxi - €10 if nearby up
Transport - Metro Train - €1.50 1hr / €12.50 for 72hr ticket
Transport - Regional Rail tickets, €15/per person up to €60 depending on time, and trip etc.
Transport - Sightseeing Tour - €50 - €200 tour with private guide car and driver etc.
Food - Snacks - €5 - €10
Food - Restaurant (set meal for 2) - €20 - €30 per head
Food - Fastfood Meal - €8 - €12 per head
Drinks - Hotel Beer €5 - €12
Drinks - Bottled Water - €1 - €3
Drinks - Espresso Coffee - €.90 - €2 (really depending on the place if touristy more expensive)
Drinks - Coffee Cappuccino - €1 - €3
Misc. - Legal Light Canna from Tabaccheria - €12 - €16/g
Others - Toilet Use / WC - €1
Souvenir - T-Shirt - €12 €15
Souvenir - Magnets / Keychain = 3 for €5
Souvenir - Premium items, Chocolates etc, - €20 - €50
Souvenir Football Jersey - €15 - €20 (Reproduction/Copy) €50 - €70 (Authentic)
*Note: Different rates for Seniors, and also for toddler
**Protip: book earlier online thru their websites, or thru official booking apps to avoid queue at ticket counter and sometimes even get discounts & better prices just show the barcode/qrcode on your phone, paperless!
**Protip: Have your local home currency exchanged to Euros through your local banks, and also fill your ATM, and ready your credit cards. We got used to having US Dollar as main currency that when we tried to exchange it to Foreign exchange shops, the commissions/fees are outrageous that USD $200 becomes around €120 - €140 instead of becoming €177 (which is the rate today April 2019)
Tips are generally not required however if you have truly enjoyed the service you are always welcome to share a tip to your server, cook, helper, guides, etc.
If you haven't read our 1st trip you may always go back by clicking the link below.
If you want to proceed to the next part which is Venezia just click the photo of Venice below.
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