Bookstore / Internet cafe
Maybe I was blind, or maybe just because it was the weekend and a few shops were closed, but I had a hard time finding an internet café (although it probably was just me). But finally I found one and it was in a great bookstore.
The bookstore is very large and stretches from an entrance on Via di Martelli and back to Via Ricasoli (you can enter from either street, but you can only exit from Via di Martelli), just near Il Duomo. I am 99% certain that the bookstore is called ‘Marzocco’ - but if anyone finds this to be incorrect, please let me know.
The internet rate for computers was cheap, about 1€ for half an hour. Although when I was there in August they had a deal where if you were there between 9-10am you could use the internet for free (but it would automatically log you off at 10am). So just check if they have any cheaper rates when your there (if you care to find out). :)
I only had a quick glance at bookstore, but it was large and I saw that it had an extensive range of travel books. And according to the website below also has multimedia aids such as videos and CDs.
Via Martelli, 14/22, Firenze, 50129
An important rule of thumb: DO also try and plan your wardrobe in such a way that you'll have no problem mixing and matching your outfits and it should be able to see you through from day to night. So in this instance, that little black dress WILL come in VERY handy for the night events AND in the day time too! I ALWAYS, ALWAYS bring along at least 2 camaras with me... just in case one breaks down. My friends used to laugh at me.... until their one and only camera broke down. When when they have to RELY SOLELY on me and my amateurish photographic skills, they stopped laughing. Yes, immediately. Serve them right! :-)) If you are going to do lots of walking and sightseeing, do remember to put the following items into your tote bag or backpack: Maps and perhaps your Italian phrase book, Your all-important Guidebook, Water bottle, Sunglasses.... etc.
DON'T forget to bring along your much-treasured ATM card to withdraw cash. Yes, no need to rush to the money-changers to change all your currencies into
Italian liras before your trip.
And DON'T use your Visa or Mastercard to withdraw cash. This is considered a CASH ADVANCE and you'd be slapped with a HEFTY fee whereas if you were to use YOUR own ATM card, you will NOT be charged for any fees.
In fact, you WILL benefit and enjoy from the low interbank exchange rates. Trust me (I used to work for an American bank).
Just ensure that you adhere to the following steps:
(1) Flip to the back of your local ATM card, do you see the logos 'Cirrus', 'Plus', 'The Exchange' etc. on it?
(2) If the answer is 'yes', then you have absolutely nothing to worry about!
(3) Why? Because you can withdraw cash from any ATM machines in Italy, no matter how obscure the
town you're at is.
(4) If you use this method, you'd also save alot from the interbank exchange rates. Money changers will charge you much, much more compared to a bank.
I've been using this method countless of times before and so far, no ATM machines in this world have failed me.... yet. Yes, even in the remotest village of Africa!
Have a great trip!
Photo Below: Giotto's magnificent Bell Tower here in Florence.
'Tourists don't know where they've been;
Travelers don't know where they're going!' - Paul Theroux
Outlet Shopping Tours amid the Tuscan Hills
About 40 kilometres outside of Firenze is "The Mall", a group of designer stores selling stylish Italian designer clothing at significant discounts.
Stores include Gucci, Feragamo,Fendi, Y.S. Laurent, Valentino, Ungaro, bottega Veneta, Serio rossi, Loro Piana and me here in front of Armani. You run into solid 30-50% discounts. I bought a Gucci walllet, normally priced at 425 Euro for around 150 Euro. Yeah, I know it's in Firenze, but a little shopping is a nice break.
If you're a tourist, a word to the wise: call your credit card companies in advance that you are in Europe so that security holds won't be placed on your credit cards. It's embarrassing both to you and the merchant if your credit card rejects you transactions unnecessarily. Wallets, clothes, jeans. I liked the Jeans at Armani the most. However, Gucci was very crowded. Have a credit card ready
Cars not needed in Florence!
If you're just visiting Florence you don't need to hire a car, everything is easy to get to by foot or using one of the many buses.
If you intend to visit the other cities in the region then consider the public transport.
For Pisa the train service is cheap and very frequent - http://www.trenitalia.it/home/en/
You need bus number 3 from the station in Pisa to the main sights (Leaning Tower etc).
For Siena the blue SITA coaches are efficient and take you to a square which is walking distance to the main centre (don't take the train to Siena as the station is a long way from the centre).
Finding the right coach can be a little confusing as there are two coach companies running into Florence. The SITA coaches run from the coach station on the left side of the railway station (off Via Santa Caterina Da Siena). SITA runs to Siena, Volterra, Arezzo, San Gimignano, Greve and Poggibonsi.
The other coach company (LAZZI) runs from Piazza Adua to Pisa, Prato, Lucca and Pistoia.
At least that's according to my old Let's Go guide!
We had a nice surprise, on our...
We had a nice surprise, on our way to Florence on New Year's day, when the lunch hour arrived as we were wandering through the enchanting Chianti hills. There, just on the top of a sweetly ascending hill, we found this nice typical restaurant.
Its name is La sosta del Papa (literally: 'The Pope's stop'), and borrows its curious name from a real historical fact: it was just in this tavern that Pope Pius VII, in 1815, made a break to refresh himself while on his way to Rome.
This restaurant is outstanding for its definitely being off the beaten path - it was a mere chance to lead us there, as I said above: nevertheless, we found the genuine tuscan cooking tradition combined with a truly discreet service in a relaxing atmosphere. Be prepared to spend hours sitting around the table, not at all for the staff's delay, but just for your pleasure...
The restaurant has a garden which provides a great
panoramic view all over the surrounding Chianti hills, and there's a large private car park for guests.(To be continued below) The restaurant serves traditional courses - as a matter of fact, its slogan is 'tuscan cuisine in the heart of Chianti area' - such as the 'ribollita' (a dish of legumes soup poured on home-baked bread), various types of steaks, fresh beans in olive oil, porcini mushrooms, lamb chops, etc...
The house also offers an excellent Chianti wine, the best mate - you know - for these courses :-))