When we are in Italy, I always look for nearby cities, towns, or places of interest to travel too because the rail network is fantastic. It is so easy to jump on a train and head off. You can book ahead on http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en which obviously helps with your budgeting and planning if you want to stick to a timetable while you’re away but I find that with a young son in tow we can’t always plan ahead so I tend to load this website when away and book on the day we choose to go. I’ll have an idea of where we want to go anyway from examining a map before we jet off.
So, as we were staying in Pisa I knew that Florence was an hour away on the train and we decided to go on day 2 of our trip. It’s another Italian city I had always wanted to see. Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. I wanted to see the Santa Maria del Fiore or Duomo (cathedral), Piazza della Signoria which houses Michelangelo’s David sculpture and Ponte Vecchio Bridge as well as generally just walking about with my mouth open as per usual when we are in Italy.
Our hotel was across the road from the train station. We ate breakfast then I looked at times and found a 9.30am train. We went into the train station and there are ticket machines in the entrances usually. These have an option to change the languages to English or whatever you require. You pay and they give you tickets. The giant boards show you which platform to find and its as simple as that. I have always found the trains clean, spacious and so easy. Children are free under 5 in Italy as long as you are happy for them to sit on your knee but most of the time you will find they can sit in an empty seat next to you. We enjoyed the trip through the Tuscan hills to Florence as the scenery was beautiful. Ben was very excited being on a train.
We arrived and started off walking. At first we just headed off in any direction and then we started following a tour group. This is another free way of making sure you can see the sights and also find your way there if you are quite unsure of where to go. Tour groups are everywhere!! Before long we arrived at the cathedral and we looked around it in awe, taking pictures and enjoying the sight. The shops around this area are beautiful, chocolatiers, lovely coffee shops and there are fashion shops everywhere. It’s a shoppers dream really. We were then trying to find the Piazza (square) that had the main sculptures which didn’t take long. Ben was very tired by this point so through this whole day trip he was in my arms. I’m not surprised really as his little legs run for miles and he wont sit in a pushchair so I never take one away with me. We stopped at an ice cream shop to refuel and hopefully give my son some energy then right beside it we had found the square. It was very busy so we sat on a kerb eating ice cream and went to look at the statues. Bed loved taking pictures of them himself which kept him entertained while I looked at the detail. Quite fascinating. There was also a giant tortoise sculpture that was called ‘Searching for Utopia’ which Ben liked the best, it was huge and bronze that almost looked like gold.
The Ponte Vecchio Bridge is a medieval stone closed-spandrel arch bridge over the Arno River. The bridge has shops built along it, mainly jewellery shops. Again, it was really busy and Ben wasn’t impressed we some quick photos later we exited the bridge and looked in a few shops along the street. We had been walking for hours so decided to base ourselves in the Piazza Della Republica which was another large square with a carousel in the middle of it and had a fab restaurant / coffee shop called Caffe Concerto Paszkowski which had terrace seating so I could enjoy a coffee while Ben played in front of me. The main picture on this blog is of this Square and little Ben sitting on a Boulder. We walked some more after this and by this time it was 4pm and we stopped again for some pasta before getting the train back to Pisa. Ben was absolutely exhausted by this point bless him so again I was carrying him and he fell asleep in my arms on the last walk into the train station. He slept the whole way on the train and back to the hotel. It is a long day for the little ones so take a push chair if you can, I prefer travelling without.
All in all, I had a good day in Florence, id have liked to explore more and it is maybe one to visit without the Travelling Tot.