Skip to main content

EuroTrip - Florence in 2 Days: The Young Meet the Renaissance

Firenze is the city that the Renaissance is said to have sprung from, though it is even disputed whether a renaissance actually existed or it merely exists in our imaginations, given the benefit of hindsight. The renaissance was supposedly this period where Europe began prospering economically thanks to the emergence of trading and literature. It is said to have begun with the rich textile trading families of Florence.

My journey from Rome to Florence was meant to be on a train, probably Trenitalia (You can read about my experience in Rome by clicking here). But then, there is Rail Europe’s badly designed website which increases the possibility of making a wrong booking time when you are booking a series of rides. And so it happened I had booked an evening rather than morning train.

Luckily, I had discovered the GoEuro app and also found that for less than 10 Euros, precisely 8.99 Euros, I could grab a large, blue BusCenter bus from Rome to Florence. The ride would take just under three hours from the Rome Tiburtina bus station.

One shocking thing I found with the bus stations in Italy is that they were few people milling around and they were effortless to use. In Nairobi, the main country bus station is a place I really try to avoid - teeming with criminals, overcrowded, and usually with mounds of garbage here and there. I was therefore expecting crowds and pickpockets at the regional bus station, but much to my surprise, found the train stations were in fact more crowded than the bus stations.


The Scandicci Bus Station in Florence
The journey from Rome to Florence was quite easy, save for the realisation that the bus drops you off at a bus park along the Autostrada (Italy’s toll expressways that link the cities). Well, Autostrade(the firm that manages the expressways) does try to make the bus park as convenient as possible complete with a restaurant, and there is a tram link into the city. 

I took the relatively new metro into Florence, before picking a bus to my hotel which was just outside the city centre. The city is quite clean and walkable, though it had decided to rain yet again. One of the things I first noticed was that Florence has quite incredible restaurants. I got to finally enjoy a proper serving of Risotto, unlike the small and misleadingly-priced servings I had had in Rome and Venice.

So, yes, Florence is a friendlier town with a lot of young and friendly people in it. The main attractions in the city are its rich history complete with iconic buildings - they aren't ruins, yet - magnificent chapels, and the museums that I avoided to save on my Euros.

Besides the buildings, there’s also the Arno river that snakes its way around Florence and the historic Ponte Vecchio. This is a bridge across the Arno river which plays host to a row of decades-old buildings on either side. The buildings do have a more interesting history compared to their current fate as a tourist photo backdrop and tourist shops. As for the city, it probably does owe its existence to this river.

Beyond the bridge, there is the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is set on a hill across the Arno River, and from where you have excellent and picturesque views of the city. It is recommended to catch at least one sunset from this vantage location as you watch the summer sunset bathe the city in its golden colours. You can walk to the location - think of it as a walking tour, though you can also catch one of the city’s public buses to the point.


My second attempt at Risotto at Ristorante Pizzeria Senzanome was quite rewarding and satisfying.
I found it interesting that the town has adopted the city buses such that some of the routes are served by vans rather than buses, probably because the demand is not as high for a regular bus.

Talking of transport, there was a lot of ongoing construction as the metro train was a recent addition and was therefore still undergoing expansion to serve more places around the city.

Unlike Italy’s capital of Rome, Florence is a city that is equally alive at night, which we can attribute to the significant population of young people. This is not to say older people can not party, but yeah.

Popular spots include the Babylon Club (the name says it, it is packed), the more hospitable il Vinile, if you are looking to talk, and the Green Street Bar if you are a hip hop head looking to party.

It would be a waste if you were to travel all the way to Florence without trying out the uniquely Italian sandwiches at Osteria All'antico vinaio. These consist of cured meats and a hard bread, and you can have them with a bottle of wine, a beer, or even a soft drink. The restaurant is hugely popular and has queues snaking all the way outside. On top of that, it is quite affordable and the servings are very generous. This is an experience you will definitely want to try more than once.


The Florence Cathedral with the characteristic stand-out architecture of Florentine structures
And then, there is what I missed. There is the wine country tour, and again, the grapevines around Florence are quite picturesque. If you are not looking to spend more than 100 euros for this trip, you could catch the bus to Chianti, but I’d suggest you do it before 11:30 AM so you have enough time for your tour and to catch the bus back. I overslept and therefore could not run my tour, also given that it was a rainy day. For the wine tour, see details here.

All-in-all, Florence does have lots to offer and is highly recommended, but make sure to plan well.


The Santa Maria Novella Basilica just round from the Florence SMN Train Station
From Florence, my next stop was the so-called “fashion capital” of Milan, which happened to be the most boring destination in my trip. I will let you in on a tip - unless you are an architect interested in some unique buildings, you will want to skip Milan. It is expensive and boring without much to see. If you want fashion - go to Austria unless you are really a fashion industry industry.

Florence from the Michelangelo Plaza
I caught a high-speed train from the Florence Santa Maria Novella(SMN) station to the Porta Garibaldi station in Milan. This was one of my best train rides on my trip with comfortable and spacious seats.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

RE: Appointment as Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to The United States of America

Image: South African marriage courtesy The Telegraph ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/6237922/South-African-man-marries-4-women-at-same-ceremony.html  ) Dennis Kioko, Address Pending. President to-be-elect, Republic of Kenya, Address Pending, Again. Dear Sirs/Madams, RE: Appointment as Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to The United States of America  I would like to draw your attention to news reported across various sections of the press (way behind your daily portraits on the front page) that several Missions to the country are equivalently vacant with the duty of appointed high commissioners having expired. This includes Kenya's High Commission to the United States of America. Among your first duties, having assumed duty as Kenya's president, duly elected or otherwise, will be to appoint commissioners to these missions. It is in this regard that I highly invoke you to consider me as a likely appointment to the

Nairobi's Top 4 Texas Brisket Places Reviewed and Ranked

Brisket on a bed of roast vegetables with barbecue sauce at Texas Brisket, Kikuyu  This review has been updated after a number of you suggested I try the brisket at County2County.  What's the best place to have Brisket in Nairobi? What's even brisket?  Brisket is one of the toughest cuts in a cow, from around the belly. It is so tough that it has to be smoked for about 16 hours to tenderise. But that there, is the catch.  12 to 16 hours later, it is the most flavourful and softest cut you will ever have. So full of flavour and so soft you can pick it apart with your fingers.  However, due to the long cooking time involved, only a few places offer brisket in Nairobi.  The best so far is Texas Brisket which is located within Kikuyu Railway station.  They do the meat for a proper 16 hours, and will usually have a fatty or non-fatty portion. The fatty portions are more tasty. A 500 gram serving goes for KSh. 900 and a 1 KG order comes with a serving of free fries. Their brisket has

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

Note: This is a dated post and has since been mostly passed by events. SAB Miller beers including Castle and Peroni are no longer widely available in Kenya after their exist. Sirville Brewery was bought out by Brew Bistro before being permanently shut in a tax dispute. Kenya is a land of milk, honey, beaches and taxes. I have penned, or is typed, a newer post here .  Peroni - One of the best beers in Kenya. Did a taste of canned and bottled Italian, and bottled Tanzanian I like the tangy flavour and body in Tanzanian Peroni. The can is close. Heineken drinkers will like the Italian one.  I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinion of Kenyan beer. Interestingly, over the course of sharing such opinions with other drunkards connoisseurs,  I have found that we all have different views as to what beer is the best, which one makes you too drunk, or which one gives one free, extra hangover for every hangover you get

Lusaka and Livingstone Zambia to Namibia By Road

Zambia is a pretty large country,  an exciting one and with no shortage of potholes.  For instance, take the direct route from Lusaka - Livingstone to Namibia through the Sesheke - Katima Mulilo border crossing. Typically, roads are either good or tend to have potholes here and there. However, the last 120 kilometres of the Livingstone to Sesheke/Katima Mulilo route are best described as potholes dotted by some road here and there for the just thirty kilometres past Kazungula town, which is also the Zambia - Botswana border crossing.  Trying to drive to Sesheke is so bad it will take you anywhere between 4 hours to 6 hours to navigate those 100 kilometres. You may or may not have your dignity at the end and your vehicle may be in more than one piece.  If you really must use the Sesheke - Katima Mulilo crossing as of December 2022, then take the 900 kilometre longer detour from Lusaka to Mongu then back to Katima Mulilo. It doesn't guarantee you absence of potholes, but at least the

Best and Most Durable Highway SUV Tyres

Buying tyres is a dilemma - how do you get the best tyres without spending much more than is necessary?  If that's your dillema, well, you have come to the right place. We will look at tyres that are at the sweetspot of durability, performance and affordability especially for SUVs.  You'll find that most of my top picks are Asian brands. These tend to last longer and are more affordable. European brands are engineered more for comfort and ride quality. So if comfort is your top concern when buying tyres, I would recommend Pirelli and Michelin.  1. Otani   Otani is a little known tyre brand made in Dubai. It however rates quite highly for durability and hardiness, with most of its tyres coming in 'Extra Load' specification. Extra Load tyres are designed if you carry a lot of weight or if you do a lot of towing. Even if you don't, it means you end up with more hardy tyres than your manufacturer recommends. Propelling Otani to the top of my ranking is th