Well we started our trip to Florence this weekend by taking a regional train there since it was half the price of the high speed option. The train ride took about three hours and forty-five minutes since it stopped pretty often at random cities along the route. On open stretches the train did get up to about 100 mph.
We booked an Airbnb which worked out great! It ended up being a 700 year old apartment that had been renovated in the last few years, but still had the original terracotta floor and the old wood beam roof visible. It did have a bathroom that was quite small and a doorway that was a little under six feet tall, but the apartment was in a convenient location and close to many of the attractions that we went to visit.
Day 1: The first full day we had in Florence, we visited the Florence Cathedral, aka the Duomo. We climbed the 463 steps to the top of the dome which ended up being way more involved than I first thought. It included very narrow staircases with no handrails you had to lean one way or the other to avoid hitting your head on the outer shell of the dome when it started to encroach on the inner shell which is where the stairs are. Also on the way up and down, you have to walk on this 2.5 – 3 foot ledge that circles the base of the dome, which if you’re afraid of heights would have been terrifying. In the end though, it was well worth the nearly 30 minute climb since you got a panoramic view of the city
Day 2: Day two was filled more with just wandering the city and exploring different areas. First though, we went to see the statue of David and the other artwork in the Accademia. Later we stumbled upon a modern opera house right in the heart of the city surrounded by buildings from the Renaissance period.
We sort of made a mistake by booking our return train at 9 pm since we kind of ran out of things to do that late at night. We actually ended up at a McDonald’s across the street of the train station and played cards until our train departed. I was able to resist eating McDonald’s but, some of the other guys in my group did get it, and it seemed to be way more expensive than it would be in the United States.
Overall, Florence was an amazing city. It seemed much newer and well kept up than Rome, but so far I think I enjoy Rome’s roughness. Florence also seemed more touristy than Rome and every monument cost money to get into which was kind of a disappointment. I think it was a good place to travel to first to figure out traveling while I’m here