Monday, July 20, 2009

2008 Winter in Rome Day 5

11th Dec

Train terminal at Florence

We woke up a sleeping cabbie and took the one and only cab at the Pantheon taxi rank at 6.30 am to the train station. Thunders snort of rumble in the northern hemisphere while the ones at the equator snort and snap. Anyway, it was our first thunderstorm in Rome but thankfully the roads were clear at that hour. It took us €10 and 5 minutes to reach Termini.

We took the first ES Italia train ( #9428 ) bound for Milan to Florence from binari ( track ) 4 at 7.30 am. The bin number was only displayed on the board minutes before departure so we had to be alert for new information. The anticipative migrating crowd looked away from the departure board and jerked into decisive action the moment information changed to white ( confirmed bin ) and we followed suit. We had reserved seats at carrozza ( car ) 6 seats 21,28,23. No worries about the number because we sat together facing each other.

It was a bumpy ride along flooded fields all the way north. We reached Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station at 9.30am, an 1 ½ hour ride. The rain has not caught up in Florence but the sky was grey. Near Mercato Central, I bought a leather back pack for €30, a lambskin belt for €15, cow-hide belt for Pat €20 and lots of biscotti. We would have bought more had it not been for the day-bag that grew heavier with each purchase.

Florence historic central is sort of miniaturized and we checked into Hermitage Hotel ( on foot ). We had booked the hotel ( triple €150 ) because it was minutes from Uffizi, our main interest of the day. Lunch was at the river restaurant across River Arno, near Vecchio, which was unexceptional with an equally uncommunicative waiter.


Hermitage Hotel had made a free booking for the Uffizi that comes with a priority code . We did not use the privilege and saved €4 ( per person ) reservation fees. That meant paying only €6.50 for the entrance each. The exterior façade was deceptively so-so but the works and corridor of the Uffizi are fantastic. However, I couldn’t enjoy some of the works due to low light condition at certain galleries, probably to protect the works. We left shortly after sunset and looked for sustenance. Help came from Ristorante Buca Poldo where we had fantastic Tuscany food ( gnocchi, vongole, ravioli,wine,café and sides ) all for a bill not exceeding €60.

Hermitage Hotel

It’s then back to Hermitage Hotel where we enjoyed Ponte Vecchio from its rooftop garden and the cool crisp air.

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