Since I had some time on the train I opted to head down to the dining car and had a Panini for lunch (at least I think that was the meal I was on). How can you go wrong with tomato, cheese and basil! We actually arrived at Firenze SMN (the main station) a little earlier than anticipated. Now it was on to finding the hotel. I had done a map from home, however 1) I am directionally challenged and 2) who knows if Google Maps has it correct! Nevertheless, I headed out “with authority” so it didn’t look like I was a wandering tourist. After a few short blocks I found the address and it had a big sign BAR – I know what some of you are thinking…Not to be deterred I went a little further and found the hotel with the same number no less (I’ll explain that one later). The hotel is very small, but perfect for me traveling alone. I went up to my room (three steep flights of stairs) and extracted myself from the “gear”. I didn’t want to waste time so it was back to the train station and off to Pisa.
The train scenario worked so smoothly, I just love it! Within the hour I arrived, but of course had no idea where to go. Fortunately they had a very large city map at the station, so off I headed to find the Leaning Tower. It was probably about a ½ mile or more away. En route I realized that all of this walking, climbing, etc had made me hungry again – time for gelato!
I found a cute little shop and had some Stracciatella. I noticed many of the shops were closed for a few hours in the afternoon, probably a good thing for me. After much walking I rounded the corner and saw the Tower ahead.
It really is an interesting complex. I had always thought that is was just sitting out in the middle of a field. Now I can confirm that it does lean!
There were a lot of people in this area along with vendors selling every type of trinket imaginable. One could buy tickets to go up in the tower and see the other buildings, but I was find with a more cursory tour.
I had to do the obligatory picture showing me holding up the tower, which was fun. Pisa's symbol is this neat cross (I tried to Google, but it's all in Italian, so I'll have to try another method of looking it up). I spent a couple of hours in the area and then got on the train back. I arrived back at the hotel to find a new person at the front desk so I asked where I should go to dinner. Alessandro spoke very good English and gave me several options for dinner. We chatted for quite a while and he was able to give me a lot of tips about the city since he was born and raised here. He made an 8:45 dinner reservation and I went up and got ready. I was a little leery about walking around by myself at this hour, but Florence is such a friendly and safe feeling city – much different than Rome in my opinion. It is also so much smaller than Rome, so easy to walk to all the sights. I had a wonderful dinner at La Busolla. I had spinach and cheese filled ravioli in a meat sauce. The weather was perfect so I sat outside and enjoyed the views. On my way back from dinner I wandered a little and caught the first sight of the Duomo – what a gorgeous site. To top it off, the moon was just about the dome.
There were still many people out walking around. I headed back to the hotel and Alessandro was just leaving for the evening and he offered to show me around a little. I was not so sure about that but the other manager was there and he even left his backpack so he had to come back (I've watched too many crime shows - unsub). I try to be extremely careful when I’m alone, but I also don’t want to miss out on things so off we went. Since he grew up here he was able to show me around with ease and after our walking tour I feel like I know the city even better – even helped me with my Italian. We made it back in just over an hour, but by now it was already midnight. I don’t think I could have packed more into a day if I tried! Saturday will be filled with museums after a much needed good nights rest. Buonasera!