We left Lugano on Monday, 19th March on the train to Florence having planned a week in an Air B&B guest house in the centre of town. We knew there was a lot to see there but now, having done it, realise that is a massive understatement.
Normally I like to find out a bit about the history of the places we visit, but Florence is all history, masses of it. All I can honestly remember, other than it was of Roman origin, is that Cosimo Medici, 1389-1464, the Father of the Nation, founded the Medici dynasty; there after it is a blur. The Medici family ruled here for centuries and were so rich they couldn’t store all their money and so had to build palaces and cathedrals, collect statues and art and endow artists and scientists instead. Possibly an overstatement but the Medici appear to have funded the Renaissance.
We bought ourselves Firenze Cards, which are 72 hour passes giving access to all the museums and monuments and each one was grander than the last. But I get ahead of myself.
We arrived on Monday afternoon and with our planned bus stop programmed into Google Maps set off from the train station …. into a building site; the bus stop was under a large pile of bricks! We managed to find the temporary stop and then caught the small electric shuttle bus that runs around the tiny back streets of the city. These buses might be environmentally friendly, but they are the most uncomfortable vehicles in existence. They have elliptical wheels, no suspension and run on cobbled streets. It dropped us off a short walk from our Air B&B, on the top floor of a building right alongside the Palazzo Vecchio. It was quirky place but ideal for our needs and it was entirely central.
With 7 days in town and the Firenze Card only lasting 3 days we decided to reconnoitre on Tuesday, take a bus tour into the Tuscan countryside on Wednesday, and on Thursday, the best forecast weather, a day trip on the train to Cinqueterra, 5 coastal villages in a National Park near La Spezia. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we would ‘do’ Florence on the Firenze Card before catching the over night bus back to Roccella.