Our rented vehicle, a Mercedes van that holds nine (we were upgraded) was a comfortable way for our six bodies (Berg’s, Krahn’s and Graumann’s) to travel Tuscany. It took us through hill and dale, and now we needed to return it to the Florence rental center near the train station. Dan drove and all of us navigated, except Charlotte who prayed. Roads are not well marked and, once in Florence, we needed to avoid the restricted zone, where non-authorized–we were not authorized–vehicles are forbidden and electronically ticketed with a hefty fine. The problem is that the train station borders the restricted zone. Having been in Florence before, I was well acquainted with the train station location, but getting there on authorized roads caused apoplexy. It may be possible we crossed one forbidden place. I will know in three months if a fine appears on my credit card, which is what happens in Italy. Thankfully, once we saw the stazione (train station) directional markers, we were able to navigate successfully to our destination. We had given ourselves plenty of time in case we got majorly lost, and we arrived over an hour early.
The trek to Pisa from Florence is via a crowded regional train. And crowded it was. Once there Dan headed out quickly to the leaning tower in order to take the climb. It is a memorable experience. The rest watched either Dan climb or the luggage. The Duomo (cathedral) and shopping rounded out the experience.
Back to the regional train we took the short hop to La Spezia where we will stay overlooking the Bay of Poets (Lord Byron wrote his poetry while he looked out upon the bay) and an ancient castle next to the Mediterranean in the small hamlet of Lerici. What a sight it is–outstanding!
PS. Dan had some unfortunate events during the day. First, he left his new and wonderful camera with precious memories captured on the chip on the train. It is gone, gone. Then, he was pick-pocketed of E200 (about $230) by gypsy women who entered the train behind him and exited the train after. An Italian man ran up hurriedly holding his own wallet and pointing and saying something we did not understand immediately. He was telling us the women pick-pocketed. Too late, Dan saw his empty wallet on the floor of the train car. Thankfully, his credit cards and passport were intact. Eventually, after the angst, Dan (and Charlotte) decided to let it go and enjoy the rest of the trip, which we shall.
WEG – September 6, 2015