On our way to Florence
Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
158Trip End Mar 11, 2011
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Where I stayed
We arrived in Ventigmillia a little after noon, so we were on schedule. The first station that the GPS pointed us to was not the main station. We were directed to a small deserted station on the outskirts of Ventigmillia. This was not the place we had to go, so we searched a bit further. The main station was listed in the GPS as 'Public Transportation' and not as 'Train Station'. But after a short detour we reached it. First job was to secure a couple of tickets so while Norman tried to park the car we headed into the station. We were lucky as a new ticket booth just opened when we entered, so we quickly got our tickets.
Outside Norman managed to conquer the Italian parking lot, and claimed himself a space. All was settled so we could head out to get some lunch, not an easy task in Ventigmillia as most of the eateries are icecream shops. We found a simple sidewalk restaurant, where we enjoyed our last meal together. At the station we said our goodbyes and we boarded the train to Milan. This was not one of the high speed ones, but a simple and old fashioned train. In the beginning it was bloody hot (or should I say 'German Hot') in the train as the AC was not activated yet. We parked out luggage in the gangway in the back of the compartment as there were no luggage compartments on the train (except for the overhead ones). Linda kept an 'eagle eye' on the luggage during the whole trip. And as we started moving the train cooled down. Although it was an old and slow train, it was quite comfortable and a few hours later we arrived in Milan. Here we had to change to the train to Rome which also stops in Florence. We had only 20 minutes to change trains, but we found our train waiting on track 5. This was one of the fast ones (Eurostar) and it was beautiful and had spacious seats, good service and even a welcome snack and drink. We sat back and relaxed as the train soared through the Italian landscapes.
When we arrived in Florence it was dark already. At first we were hesitant about walking to the Hotel as you hear horror stories about pick-pockets and gypsy gangs that rip you off. But our Hotel was very close by, so we dared the streets of Florence. It was not bad at all, and everywhere you look you see people dragging luggage around to get to their hotels. A short 10 minute walk took us to the Hotel L'Orologio. This would be our home for the coming days. We got ourselves a deal on a suite for two nights, and booked an extra night in a 'normal' room. The check in was quick, and the Hotel had a classy and clean look. It is themed in a 'Watch' style, so everywhere you look you saw posters and decorations from Patek Philippe or Rolex. Our room (501) was on the top floor and very comfortable and spacious. The classy wood work made the room a bit dark though. We had a nice balcony overlooking the rooftops of Florence and the Duomo.
After settling in we headed out to get some food. I had my mind set on a legendary Bisteca Florentina. A steak about a foot thick and served 'alive'. The Hotel receptionist knew just the right place for such, Buca Mario, only a few blocks down the road. We thought it might be full as the place looked small from the outside. But once we got inside we discovered that it was a maze of rooms like dungeons under the ground. We got a nice little table and indulged in Tuscan meat specialties. For Linda, Osobucco and for me my Bisteca. We have dined at some of the best steak houses in the world, Luger, Wollenski and others. But I must admit, none of them come close to the simple and clean flavors of the Bistecca. Absolutely awesome.
This dinner was as good of an introduction to Florence as anyone can get. Tomorrow we'll explore the many must see sights in this town.