From Rome I had 2 options on how to get to Florence, a train for over €30 taking around an hour, or a bus for €12 taking 3 hours. As I have all the time in the world I decided to go by bus. I booked my ticket online on the FLiXBUS.it website, printed out my ticket and I was set to go. The bus left from the Tiburtina Bus Station, 4 stops from Termini on Metro Line B (Blue line). On your ticket it will have your departure point, arrival point and the bus number and the FLiX busses are all bright green so you can’t really miss them. There is no schedule or electronic board displayed at the Bus Station, you just have to wait and see where your bus pulls up. The bus was big, comfortable and clean, with reclining seats, WiFi, a toilet and charge points for your electrical items. Florence is called Firenze in Italy so make sure you don’t miss your stop. When looking for trains on the Train Italia website you have to enter the Italian names for the stations.
I arrived in Florence at the Firenze Piazzale Montelungo Bus Terminal, situated directly behind the Firenze Santa Maria Novella Train Station, which is fantastic to say in an Italian accent… try it!! I had booked into a hostel, Hostel 7 Santi, near one of the other Train Stations, Firenze Campo di Marte so I caught a train costing €1.50 for the 7 minute journey. From there it was a 5 minute walk to my hostel. The hostel was nice, had an all you can eat breakfast for €5 and an all you can eat dinner for €7 which was pretty good.From the hostel it was a pleasant 20 minute walk to the historical part of Florence. I decided I was going to have a free day so I didn’t pay to go in any of the museum’s or buildings, I just admired the amazing architecture from the outside. The most notable attractions were: Florence Cathedral, Santa Croce, Palazzo Pitti and The Florence Baptisery. I then walked down to the river and followed it for a while which was lovely and relaxing, before crossing and heading up the Piazzale Michelangelo. It wasn’t a hard climb and only took 5 minutes and it offers fantastic views of the city of Florence, with the domed buildings and churches dominating the skyline with a mountainous background.
The following day I decided to take a day trip to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower. A train ticket cost €8.40 from any of the Firenze train stations, but you will nearly always have to change at the main Santa Maria Novella Station. If you are staying near one of the other station don’t buy an individual ticket to Santa Maria Novella and then another one to Pisa, as this will cost you an extra €1.50. The train to Pisa Central took 47 minutes and from there it was a nice 15 minute walk to the Leaning Tower, through the main high street. The city of Pisa is lovely but I didn’t feel like there was that much to do apart from visit the Leaning Tower. It does have some fantastic architecture but nothing you can’t see in Florence, so I would say half a day is easily enough time. The Learning Tower is actually the Bell Tower of the adjoining Cathedral and it really is crazy how far it leans. Originally it slanted the other way and many architects tried over the year’s to remedy this, causing it to slant the other way. There is the option of climbing the Tower but the queues are long and it costs a whopping €18.
I had a great time in Florence and Pisa, soaking up the relaxing atmosphere and admiring the amazing architecture, but from here I am heading to the fashion capital of the world, Milan.