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PenelopeCorelli
September 3rd, 2009, 04:07 PM
Our take on one-day sightseeing: We (DH, DD, & me) had only one day here, as do most cruisers, and as we planned our trip early on, we decided that we wanted to experience the atmosphere of the city. We like museums, but didn't want to wait in the hot sun in long lines to see things we could see in greater detail on the internet, just to say "I saw such and such." We didn't want to spend a lot of time inside. We like architecture, food, and exploring, so that's what we decided to do. I had been to Firenze a kazillion years before (well, 40+ years, almost a kazillion!). I had seen some things then, but don't remember much except for the shopping...So here is our day experiencing Florence.:)

Thursday, July 9 DAY 4 – Livorno, Italy

Got up before 6:00am; we were already docked in Livorno. Breakfast, ordered for delivery between 6 & 6:30, was late. Got off the boat at about 7:10. We found another couple to share a taxi to the train station for €20, and so paid €10 + €1 tip. Heard there may be a problem getting a taxi, but since we were off the boat early, the taxis had time to make an early drive and return to pick up other passengers.

Train tickets into Florence were €13.20 each, (€39.60 total) round trip. We were given 2 tickets each, one for each way. We remembered to validate the tickets at the yellow box at the station.

A young man who got on the train at Lucca recommended a regional dish similar to trippa (tripe) with spices. We were going to try it at the market in Florence. DD slept.

Outside the Florence station, we took the D bus to Ponte Vecchio. We had to buy the tickets beforehand (€1.20 each) at a booth. A validation box is on the bus.

We got off and walked along the bridge. We found a nice paper store where DD bought a lined journal that she liked (€25) & a leather bookmark (€3). They put the journal in a gray flannel bag with the store’s name. There were nice calligraphy sets there, also.

We did not have a tour planned on this one day here in Florence; we wanted to just walk the city and experience its ambiance, so we walked around the Uffizi and the Piazza. Saw lots of statues of unclothed men; no women. A copy of the David statue is here. Every souvenir stand in Florence has partial photos of his likeness silk-screened on barbecue aprons & boxer shorts, but I’m not sure any man would actually wear these if his wife/girlfriend bought one for him!

Venetian masks are also sold here, with prices ranging from €18 for small masks to €60 for elaborate half-face masks with feathers. Lots of Pinocchio souvenirs – marionettes, pencils, keychains. The Fleur-de-lis is the emblem of Florence, so that can be found almost everywhere, also.

Walked around the Duomo. DD wanted to go up the Campanile – Bell Tower. Well, we certainly weren’t going to climb the 463 steps! With no elevator! In this heat! So we gave our 13 year old the camera & €6 and waited across the piazza at a café, where we ordered tea and lemon soda. Tip: For great view shots, always take a teenage photographer with you to climb hills & towers. When she descended several minutes later she was seriously out of breath, saying that her legs felt “twitchy,” as they almost collapsed in continuous anticipation of the bottom step, and she admitted that the camera once dropped out of her hot & slippery hands. So we got her a soda, of course, and congratulated her on the accomplishment.

We walked past the Duomo toward San Lorenzo Market, passing long lines of people and many tour groups waiting to get into the church. We were glad we were not one of them, this time around. Bought 2 pashminas for €5 each, 70% cashmere & made here in Firenze. Should have bought more.

In the market, we went to Nerbone, where the young man on the train said we should go. The sign says “since 1872.” It’s a popular sandwich shop, where they have large pans of meats and stacks of sandwich rolls. We ordered the recommended regional dish, lampredotto, (the fourth stomach of a cow!) and a roast beef sandwich – so we could eat something familiar! Two sandwiches: €7. (I discovered that the Florentine dish even has its own facebook page- Panino co i lampredotto!!) Also used the bathroom – 50 cents & not that great, but it did have soap and TP. Saw a woman market worker with a white apron use & leave the restroom without washing up – “Poppie’s” sister?

We were all offered a taste of Limoncello at a stall by a young woman from Oregon – she has been in Florence 3 ˝ months. We thought – Would this ever happen in the US? A sample taste of an alcoholic beverage in a farmer’s market? Ingredients: 32% alcohol, sugar, water, lemon zest. Did you know there’s lots of info on making it at home? - In case you forget to pick some up in Italy!

We walked back to the train station, caught the D bus back to Ponte Vecchio, and resumed our walking tour on the opposite side of the river. Saw the Pitti Palace - Palazzo Pitti - with construction scaffolding and a painted false front covering the area – these are common in Europe, & look nicer than scaffolding alone. Also saw a large Converse shoe sign – DH said that they probably paid for the covering.

Stopped at a gelateria – Caffe Mokarico - Yes! Pay first at the cashier in the back, and then take the slip to the counter to order. Double scoop in a dish - €2 – great price!

More walking. Found a small market where we bought a large (1.5L) water for 40 cents. Walked by Santa Maria Novella church & back to the train station. Lots of graffiti everywhere! – Hey, think about it, graffiti is an Italian word! Lots of cigarette butts, also, between the cracks of the old stone streets at the station. Here people smoke often and almost everywhere.

Took the 3:37 train (left earlier than we planned, because it was hot and we were done.) As it turned out, it was a good idea. The next train, 4:47, had problems near Pisa and I think everyone had to change trains! We met a couple that almost missed the departure! One “gangplank”, gangway, was already up when they arrived at 7:30 - or later. Three hours to return from Florence to Livorno! Unusual, but it does sometimes happen. And then one has to take a taxi from the Livorno station to the port.

Outside the train station, we looked for a ride to share. A lady shouted for anyone from the Oosterdam and several raised their hands. But the taxi driver, with a van that seated 7-8 people, refused to allow more than four to board. The lady insisted, he resisted. She moved to help others get in; he forcibly blocked the way. She tried to logically argue; he was immovable. So the lady suggested everyone to get out of the van, which they did, and we all took another van – with a reasonable driver. The charge was still €20 for the ride, but we had seven passengers. We paid €10 again, because there were 3 of us & all the passengers wanted to reward the driver for taking us. So the driver got €24 total.

It was a full day, hot and humid. We walked about 5 miles this day, according to the pedometer I brought. :eek:

Next Stop: Civitavecchia & Rome!

FTLcruisers
September 3rd, 2009, 08:38 PM
Makes me wish I had a teenager to take on our trip!

FTLcruisers
September 3rd, 2009, 08:41 PM
One question - how was the lampredotto??

cruisemom42
September 3rd, 2009, 09:09 PM
Nice review! Luckily I will have a teenager along on our June cruise; I hope he will make himself as useful as yours!

euro cruiser
September 3rd, 2009, 09:42 PM
Cynthia, if you're up for it, the climb up Brunilleschi's (spelling?) dome at the Duomo is worth the pain in the thighs (literally). It's easy to transport yourself mentally back a half a millennium and imagine what it must have been like to be a monk climbing those stairs in robes and sandals while carrying a lamp. The last bit that leads to the ladder reminded me of the interior of the great pyramid ... a steep ramp with a pipe that you use to pull yourself up before climbing those last four steps to that amazing view of Firenze.

GSPLover
September 3rd, 2009, 10:58 PM
Loved your review. Sounds like you got a 'initial' taste of what 'Firenze' is all about. Amazed, that as a tourist, you picked up on one of the mini-buses that zig-zag through the pedestrian areas. How did that happen?

PenelopeCorelli
September 4th, 2009, 12:28 AM
Loved your review. Sounds like you got a 'initial' taste of what 'Firenze' is all about. Amazed, that as a tourist, you picked up on one of the mini-buses that zig-zag through the pedestrian areas. How did that happen?

Thanks! It was great! I asked DH Jim (jengland46) - he doesn't post here much - & he said that he searched around & found the bus site - I see it as ATAF.net. They have an English page. At the end of each day, I wrote the highlights and he helped me, since I wouldn't know one bus from the other:o He put the schedules & websites on his phone.:)

PenelopeCorelli
September 4th, 2009, 12:35 AM
Nice review! Luckily I will have a teenager along on our June cruise; I hope he will make himself as useful as yours!

Used ours for the Nafplion fortress! :D Unfortunately, we didn't check on fees and when she arrived at the top, there was a 6? euro fee. She managed to get in somehow...:eek::rolleyes:

PenelopeCorelli
September 4th, 2009, 12:39 AM
One question - how was the lampredotto??

It was quite good. I'm not usually into meat by-products & innards, although I like liver sometimes, but the lampredotto sandwich had a spicy green sauce, so it was fine. And the bread was fresh. We wanted to experience the local food - with limits.;) That's why we also had the roast beef!:D

PenelopeCorelli
September 4th, 2009, 12:49 AM
Oops, meant to include these shots in my innard post;)

FTLcruisers
September 4th, 2009, 03:45 PM
OK, I was more prepared to try it BEFORE looking at the photos :D
But, I'm with you - you have to try the local stuff; otherwise you might as well stay at home! I'll be headed to that market on 10/13!

cruisemom42
September 4th, 2009, 04:34 PM
Cynthia, if you're up for it, the climb up Brunilleschi's (spelling?) dome at the Duomo is worth the pain in the thighs (literally). It's easy to transport yourself mentally back a half a millennium and imagine what it must have been like to be a monk climbing those stairs in robes and sandals while carrying a lamp. The last bit that leads to the ladder reminded me of the interior of the great pyramid ... a steep ramp with a pipe that you use to pull yourself up before climbing those last four steps to that amazing view of Firenze.

Oh, I will no doubt climb it......along with the bell tower at Notre Dame, the Campanile at Venice (at least they have an elevator), and the Dome at St. Peters.....:D

CintiPam
September 4th, 2009, 05:32 PM
Cynthia, if you're up for it, the climb up Brunilleschi's (spelling?) dome at the Duomo is worth the pain in the thighs (literally). It's easy to transport yourself mentally back a half a millennium and imagine what it must have been like to be a monk climbing those stairs in robes and sandals while carrying a lamp. The last bit that leads to the ladder reminded me of the interior of the great pyramid ... a steep ramp with a pipe that you use to pull yourself up before climbing those last four steps to that amazing view of Firenze.

If you have not already, try Ross King's "Brunelleschi's Dome" to add to your appreciation of this wonderful architectural achievement. (He also wrote "Michelangelo & the Pope's Ceiling" and "The Judgment of Paris", regarding the French Salon and Impressionism.) Sorry, once a docent, always a docent! :)

euro cruiser
September 4th, 2009, 05:51 PM
Thanks for the correct spelling Pam. I knew I had it wrong but I was too lazy to look it up.

samavarcruiser
September 5th, 2009, 05:57 AM
Loved your review :)

PenelopeCorelli
September 5th, 2009, 01:59 PM
Loved your review :)

Thank you. I haven't done Athens yet!;)...but we loved it!:D

Samavar - is that your name? Pretty. Reminds me of course of samovar - how I would love to have one! - (My father had one in Russia) - maybe next time in Turkey.:)

atahoekid
September 7th, 2009, 02:55 AM
We'll be headed there in a little less than a month. We have our 15 yo son who runs cross country going with us. We'll put him to good use on those 463 steps and consider it "training" for the day.

PenelopeCorelli
September 7th, 2009, 06:18 PM
We'll be headed there in a little less than a month. We have our 15 yo son who runs cross country going with us. We'll put him to good use on those 463 steps and consider it "training" for the day.

Absolutely! Our DD has started cross country also. She's getting better:). If you go to Navplion, he can go up to the fortress (twice as many steps!). And I'll bet there's bell towers everywhere-he can be your official "aerial";) photographer. BTW, I made small family dolls with ironed-on photo faces of our kids & grandkids who weren't going - took their pictures by famous landmarks. So guess what our DD had to do at the fortress?! At first she said "no", but when we said she that was the only way she could see the top, she relented!:D:DLOL - And she did get a photo of her USAF brother & his wife up on the fortress - she's a good sport!

Cecethekittencat
September 8th, 2009, 04:38 PM
This port does not sound easy to manage with the shuttles and sounds like - not too pleasant of taxi drivers! Thinking this may be the best port to just buy the tour ... as all of this hunting and haggling just for transport does not sound appealing and makes it hard to enjoy your day when your worried about not finding a taxi back to the ship!

Hopefully someone can comment that the other ports (Rome and Naples) will present less hassle for DIY trips?

cruisemom42
September 8th, 2009, 06:00 PM
This port does not sound easy to manage with the shuttles and sounds like - not too pleasant of taxi drivers! Thinking this may be the best port to just buy the tour ... as all of this hunting and haggling just for transport does not sound appealing and makes it hard to enjoy your day when your worried about not finding a taxi back to the ship!

Hopefully someone can comment that the other ports (Rome and Naples) will present less hassle for DIY trips?

Civitavecchia is quite easy. There is a free shuttle (operated by the port) that will take you to the port entrance. From there it's a short (10 min) walk to the train station. Purchase a 9 euro BIRG ticket and you have round-trip transportation back to Civitavecchia plus free use of Rome's metro and bus system for the day.

Naples -- well, it depends on what you plan to do. Capri? Pompeii? Easy on your own. Amalfi Coast? Not so much, unless you want to rent a car.

euro cruiser
September 9th, 2009, 12:05 AM
Most places, and certainly all of the ports in Italy, are quite easy to do on your own if you (1) do some research before your trip and leverage the resources available to you, including this site and (2) go with a positive attitude.

People who expect to find chaos, rudeness and confusion will certainly find it.

It's also possible that folks who are prepared and have a good attitude and sense of adventure will encounter problems, but they'll probably be better able to deal with them.