Tag Archives: Florence Italy

How to Give Yourself an Edge in Traveling to Siena

Tuscany (or Toscana, in Italian) is one of the most famous regions in the western world. You can hardly IMG_0503walk through a grocery story without seeing a theme influenced by this region. This region houses some of the most iconic symbols in all of Italy within its boarders. (I feel like I say that a lot, but it’s too true.) The capital city of the region is Florence (or Firenze), but most people, if given the opportunity, will venture further outside the city.  Amongst the hill towns and castles there is probably one city more famous than them all. Siena. I went to Siena for the first time a few years back. It’s an amazing city, and one I recommend seeing.  But, just like everything in Italy, getting there was not very self-explanatory.

This post calls out three things to help clear up any ambiguity in the process of traveling from Florence to Siena.  None are earth shattering, but are all things I wish I knew before I set out on my journey.

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Why Italo Is The Best Ticket in Town

Today, in Rome, I was finishing some things on my to-do list, and planned on leaving tomorrow for Bologna.  My plan was to  take the bus up north, as research for a future blog post, but as I was investigating the bus timetables, an advertisement caught my eye. The ad featured the new train system called Italo.  The train is the first privately owned, and operated train system in Italy. The train is pioneered, designed, and built by Ferrari.

(Click here to access the Italo site.)

The new service caught my eye and I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to ride. To be completely honest with you I’m writing this blog post while on the train.

Here are the 6 reasons Italo is the best ticket in town, and why you should test drive.

  1. Luxury. The train is nice, very nice.  Every seat is uniquely designed to provide each passenger with amenities unseen by any other train system in Italy. For those passengers who ride in the first class (Prima) food, coffee, and other services are provided.  There is also free wifi, tv, and movies, onboard. Lastly, the train is very clean. The clean factor really does set Italo a part from the Trenitalia’s bullet train the Frecciarossa.
  2. Comfort. Each seat is larger and gives each passenger more room. The train and seats absorb most of the shock from the railway lines. Result: leaving each passenger with a smooth and comfortable ride. Lastly, Italy passengers can enjoy the comfort of the Italo lounge at most, if not all, train stations.
  3. Design. The train has a noteworthy designed.  The same attention to detail expected from Ferrari is reflected in the train. Everything is clean, and is an expression of Italian modern design.
  4. Silence.  The train is very quiet, and smooth. Even at our top speed of 300 kmh (or 186 mph) the “silence factor” is remarkable. Again, noticeably quiteter than the Frecciarossa – Italy’s other fast train.
  5. Convenience.  The ticket purchasing process was the easiest experience I have ever had in Italy.  I bought the tickets online, it took about 7 minutes, and the tickets were emailed to me immediately.   The Italo team is strategically located throughout the train station and surprisingly egger to help. On the platform there are staff members directing people to the location of their train car while answering questions.
  6. Price. The most striking thing about Italo is the price.  The base, or economy, tickets run between €20 – €25 each way.  Business class tickets run about the same as the second class tickets on the Frecciarossa – about €45 each way.  I wrote a blog post on the advantages of the Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa last year. Click here to view the blog post, The Cost of Train Tickets.

The train is a great new way to get around Italy.  It will be there first high speed train system to reach Venice (no more Harry Potter trains). In the back of my mind, I wonder if Italo can keep their service, and amenities fresh with consistency.  Only time will tell. However, I bet it will be the new standard in Italian railway travel.

The call to action, you must take it for a test-drive!

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Firenze | Florence

When I was looking at places to visit for my last trip I automatically omitted Florence, or Firenze, from the list. The mental image that came to mind – as I reflected on the people I talk with about this city – was overweight, loud mouth Americans, who loved the fact no Italian was needed to enjoy the city. As I got over the hordes of tour groups – wearing Hawaiian shirts, lead by a small flag down the streets of Florence – in my mind, I decided, now is as good of time as any to go for a visit. Maybe I should clear this issue up.

Let’s get one thing clear; I am proud to be an American. I am blessed to live in a place like the United States; however, our people don’t represent our country well abroad. For are readers who have witnessed an ugly American, I sincerely apologize. There will be more to come on this topic – I am mulling over a blog post on cultural do and don’ts.

But after I spent a week around the city, my opinion of the city was quite the opposite. I found Firenze to be great and I cannot wait to return. In my opinion the best parts of the city are;

Size: Smaller than Roma, with a similar feel, you can absorb the city much easier.

Cleanliness: Not to say other cities are dirty, but it would appear Florentine people scrub the streets every night.

Gastronomy: The food is great. It’s true country Italian-famous for their stake. As for the wine, there is no better city for quality and price, than Firenze. The only down side is the bread. It’s terrible. Too dry, and turns to crumbs in your mouth.

Culture: The people in Firenze dress like the fashion elite. It is the capital of European country living. It’s as if a magazine comes to life.

I give Firenze 83 pts out of 100. It is a great city; I will be back.

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