continuation…… (see part 1)
To avoid missing our train to Florence, we went early to Roma Termini station. I don’t know about the other travellers, but we had quiet not good nor bad experience (somewhere in between). The busy train station don’t have enough seats for waiting passengers, so we helped ourselves on the floor, or sit on our luggages. We had to have meal at a fast-food restaurant just to give ourselves a place to have a decent seat, even at that, we had to wait for other passengers to finish eating and leave their seats. Toilet is not an easy place to find and use as well. I was pregnant during that trip so toilet was my best friend!. I once ran in desperation to empty my bladder, but the lady outside the toilet asked for a receipt from a particular shop and restaurant.? Yup! you have to purchase something to be able to use the toilet for free, or pay £0.50cents. I had to ran back to the restaurant next to where the toilet was, to get my receipt!, and nope I didn’t bring my purse or wallet, because, why would I? I was just gonna empty my super full bladder!. My friends and I had to take turns, because we only had one receipt. But other than that, the train employees were friendly and helpful. So thats one positive side.
Our train was on time. Finally we were able to sit properly. We took the fast train which left our ears popping the whole time 😅 but the journey was quick! so no complain at all!. Train was clean and non smoking so it was a smooth journey. When you are taking trains or buses, never forget to show your ticket to the train staff, and make sure to validate them before the ride. Train companies will charge you a whooping £50 euros at the least if you lost your ticket, it can be more than that depending upon the situation. So always take note of your ticket and keep it safe.
In a matter of an hour or so, we arrived in Santa Maria Novella station, Florence. At last the smell of Michelangelo and the Designer brand Gucci’s Birthplace! was in the air. Getting a taxi from there was not a problem, taxi rank is just outside the terminal. The apartment we rented was located at Via Ventisette Aprile (27 April), about 3-5 minutes taxi ride away. The owners didn’t speak English at all, they had to call someone to interpret, most of our conversation were done through gestures and mind reading, I guess. Some Italian words sounds Spanish, so that helped us understand each other for a bit. They were nice people, only they don’t speak English at all.
There were restaurants, pubs and mini shops outside the apartment we rented. Before you book an apartment make sure to read reviews online first. We already know that by night time, there will be noises coming from the streets, but it didn’t bother us, because we’ve read reviews already. Having a restaurant right downstairs was a good help, we feed our starving selves when we arrived. I found the Chinese restaurants cheaper in Florence than any other, so if you love Asian foods, you know where to go. But then again, when you’re in Italy you have to eat Italian foods, so go and get it.
After we got served with massive brunch we head our way out to explore Florence. I loved every corner we went through. The old city looks so pretty!. As we were getting close to the town centre, the smell of leather got stronger. There were plenty of souvenir shops everywhere, leather goods and other stuff you can buy as presents and for yourself. There were coffee shops and restaurants everywhere, so you’ll never go hungry as long as you’ve got money.
One of the biggest attraction in Florence is the Duomo de Firenzi (Florence Cathedral) located at Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). It is one the most beautiful churches I have ever seen!, it looks so beautiful, my jaw just dropped. The dome of the cathedral remains the biggest brick dome ever constructed. There are coffee shops and restaurant around the square. If you feel like staring at the cathedral for as long as you like, order some hot drink/foods and sit outside, I have seen a lot of people doing it, if only I had time to sit around I would have done it. The entire cathedral won’t fit into my camera lens, but the pictures still looks stunning. The main tourist attraction includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile, all in one area. Don’t dare miss checking the inside as well, once you’re there you have to get in. Going inside the church is free, but if you want to go up to the top of the dome, there is charge. By the time we were there, it cost around £8 euros, it might have changed already, but just to give you an input.
FYI: whenever you need to use the toilet/empty your bladder, you need to go to a restaurant or cafe’s. Some of the resturants charge €0.50cents just to use their toilet, others you can just sneak in and do your business for free. I haven’t seen any public toilets.
We spent the rest of the day roaming around the Florence town, markets and the shopping area. Our mini travellers were getting tired already so we decided to walk back to our apartment.
The plan was for all of us to go to Venice, but because I was three months pregnant that time, I decided not to go. I didn’t want to get too tired from too many train rides. The trip to Venice takes about 2 hours by train. While my friends was having so much fun in Venice, so did I in Firenze!. I wandered around the old beautiful city.
The day was scorching hot, but I had myself covered from head to toe due to bad scratching. I don’t know if it was due to my pregnancy, or the warm weather, but my skin was itching so bad. I remember not being able to sleep at night because I can’t help but scratch everywhere. So if you’re on your early pregnancy right now and experiencing itchiness like theres no tomorrow! you’re not alone. Thanks to my friend who encouraged me to stop by a pharmacy which was close to the apartment to ask for help. The pharmacist was good in speaking English, so there was no hard time explaining. He gave me the best ever anti itch lotion safe for pregnant women. The lotion was called A-Derma Exomega D.E.F. Sterile Emollient Cream (yup I had to put the name because it really helped me, but please ask chemist/pharmacist/doctors first).
I walked on the streets of Florence alone like a pro. I was enjoying my time, thought I should go and check out some of many museums. First I went to Galleria dell’ Accademia, famous for Michelangelo’s David sculpture, but it was crowded (already early morning). I moved on because I wasn’t into waiting long lines that time (blaming my pregnancy blues). As I was walking through the streets I passed by the the Medici Chapel, I decided to go in since it wasn’t loaded with people outside. The chapel itself owned by Medici family has long history. It is home to the tomb of Giuliano di Lorenzo de’ Medici and Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici. It features the very beautiful Cappella dei Principi designed by Matteo Nigetti, the Lantern, and Michelangelo’s unfinished project, Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy).
I’m an easy to please person, so whenever I see simple but beautiful things I do appreciate them respectfully. I do love seeing and going to historical places, I will always check out museums and galleries everywhere I go if given a chance. This museum wasn’t busy yet when I found it, maybe because I was a bit early. I enjoyed my time, plus they have loo/toilet inside, which was handy.
After Medici museum I went on strolling around the town. I passed by an authentic designer shop, along a narrow cobblestone road. Don’t get me wrong, though I’m not rich and can’t afford to buy very expensive designer bags, I love looking at them (girl thing). I moved on anyways and dropped by a high street shop to get me a nice pregnant outfit, not maternity dress but something a pregnant woman can wear. I must have looked like a local coz some tourist asked me directions, which mostly I had no idea. I sat down a restaurant to have rest, because honestly, touring and walking around is too tiring. I wasn’t too hungry. I ordered chocolate bread and a drink (hot drink) but there was a misunderstanding. I was given a bread and espresso 😅. I wanted to return the espresso, but I dint bother, I didn’t even touched it, I bought water on my way out. I used the restaurants toilet which charged me £0.50cents (how is that). I paid because I couldn’t understand what the toilet guard was talking about, the only thing I understood was, I had to pay £0.50cents.
Got back to the apartment just in time my friends arrived back from their Venice trip.
Our very much and most awaited “Discounted Designer Stuff Girly Shopping Day!”. Yup! if you happen to be around Tuscany area, there is a designer shopping outlet you can go with big discounts!!!. I mean authentic. The place is called “The Mall” its about 40-45 minutes away from Florence. The bus terminal is at the back of Santa Maria Novella train station. It was not easy to find because you actually have to walk round the back and cross the street to find it. Thanks to the souvinir shop worker at the corner of the train station, who showed us the right way to go.
There are loads of designer shops to find here, though i havent seen an LV shop, but most of the others are here, you name it they got it!. We went to the Prada shop first, you have to get a ticket number before you get in, and keep it safe for payment transactions. Once you pick something you like to buy, you just let any sales agent know the item and the ticket number you are given from the entrance. You will get your items once paid at the cashier with cash or card. The staff dont speak much english, but they do take time to communicate. I bought myself a Prada purse costing £280 euros, which costs about £500 euros outside.
We had lunch at the Gucci cafe. The food was so nice and the price was reasonable, knowing its a designer cafe. I loved and enjoy the food, and then after I checked out some nice sunnies. Well sunnies got sold at £95euros, with a tag price of £180euros or more outside. I could have shopped for more discounted items, but no!. Valentino shop was just at the corner, but because we got tired walking around and choosing what we like (only girls will understand) , we head home. Too many discounted items to mention too by the way.
Leaning tower of Pisa and Milan day. I’ll blog about it next.
The night before we head back home, we went to Florence’s famous Ponte Vecchio bridge. The medieval bridge served as the centre of commerce during that time. It is said the the word “Bankrupt” originated here. During the medieval times, sellers use tables to show and sell there goods. If the sellers or business owners can’t pay their debts/tax, soldiers would destroy their tables, which is known to Italian as”banco” and the other word “rotto” means physically destroyed. The event was known to be called “bancorotto” which sounded like, in Italian “Banca Rotta” which means Broken Bank. So there you go! it is so sounds a lot like Bankrupt.
If you have sweet tooth try the Italian brand’s chocolate crepe, Venchi!. its so yummy it was addicting. We treated ourselves with this yummy dessert on our way back to the apartment after the Ponte Vecchio bridge tour.
Have a nice day all!! and will be back for the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Milan blog soon!.
Cheers! See you again beautiful Italy!.