At long last we were in for a few hectic days in the famous cities of Toscana (Tuscany), in the old cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Arezzo and Siena.
This article is no. 8 in a series of 10. The 25 days long journey was on an InterRail train ticket a long time ago, in August 1991, to Germany, France and Italy. What follows are transcripts from my travel diary at the time. I have changed or added very little.
Saturday 17.8.1991, Florence
- PENSIONE CELY, Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Right by the railway station. Large room with a sink and a view. 1000 lire extra for a shower and 42.000 for a double. Very good.
We walked the few hundred metres to the Cathedral. It has a wonderful structure and we climbed to the top. Later on we walked the streets to the bridge of Ponte Vecchio with the small shops. Afterwards we stumbled our way to a view point of the city, in the “woods”.
In the evening we got drunk at a family restaurant on a mega-bottle of wine. Nice city, a lot to see. Not as much as expected, by far actually.
Sunday 18.8.1991, Florence – Lucca – Pisa
We left early for a small town named Lucca; a pleasant place. The best was however the antiques market that took place in just about every single street of the fortified old city. I was very tempted to run amok and furnish a room at home with all kinds of stuff.
It is fun with all these Italian cities which have city walls all around. Large, thick, high and well kept.
The train brought us on to Pisa where we had a look at the Leaning Tower. It was quite exciting to see it with my own eyes. A couple of the buildings nearby were splendid.
Back in Florence we went to a very Chinese restaurant with bad service and food. We dropped paying for one of the main courses.
Later we bought sleeper carriage tickets Venice-Nice for Tuesday night. We found out that the French Riviera was the easiest to be staying at. Thus we said farewell to our Sicily plans. Norwegian prices.
Monday 19.8.1991, Florence – Arezzo – Siena
Actually this headline is wrong. We left early to Arezzo, a good hour to the south. The breakfast was consumed the Italian way (like yesterday): Cappuccino and a kind of sandwich. That is: My girlfriend had water and cake. We stood at the counter.
Arezzo proved to be a very picturesque town. My girlfriend, who had been here once before, was right. It is a pity we are not here in a few days. Then they will be staging a medieval festival. There were already flags hanging from the windows and buildings.
We took a train to Siena, via Florence without pausing there. Siena, one of the most famous cities of Toscana, lives to the highest degree up to its reputation: Beautiful. It has large squares, narrow streets and elegant churches, and more restaurants than in Florence, which have few.
On all the train trips today and yesterday we have seen much of the Tuscan landscape, from the flat lands to (particularly) the rolling hills this region is so famed of: Vineyards, villages, sunflower fields, rivers, castles, city walls etc. Good. No “ordinary” train rides.
We read on Italian newspaper headlines that there had been a military coup in Moscow. We were almost shocked.
Our journey on a map
This is the map of our journey through parts of Europe, on this InterRail. It includes all published articles, both travelogues and the World heritage sites we visited. There are also markers indicating links to articles with pictures from a particular country (including pictures from other trips).
We travelled by train, however the lines on the map show what a road trip by car would have been. Unfortunately, it is not possible to draw train lines on Google Maps.
All chapters in this series from 1991:
(1) Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany: Here is my diary from an InterRail train journey through Sweden, Denmark and Germany, to France and Italy.
(2) Paris & Versailles: Sightseeing in Paris and a day at Versailles.
(3) Normandie and Bretagne: A famous tapestry and D-Day beaches in Normandy and a strange mountain in the sea in Brittany.
(4) The Loire Valley and its palaces: Grand palaces and parks in the Loire Valley.
(5) Provence and the Cote d’Azur: The papal city of Avignon with an unfinished bridge, picturesque villages in Provence and a first look at the French Riviera.
(6) Monaco: A short stop in Monaco before continuing to Rome.
(7) Roma and the Vatican: In Italy we went to Roma (Rome), several cities in Tuscany and a final day in Venice, before returning to France. Here is first the account of the Eternal City of Rome and a visit to the Vatican.
(8) Toscana: A few hectic days in Tuscany, in the old cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Arezzo and Siena. (THIS ARTICLE)
(9) Venezia: Venice on a day trip, like many other visitors. But even a day made us realise the magic of this famed city.
(10) French Riviera: Lazy, lovely days on the Cote d’Azur… and the long way home.