My last destination within Italy was Venice, and I wanted do a brief pit stop somewhere before getting there. So bidding Florence goodbye, I headed for Bologna. Bologna is quite close to Florence and is well connected by train. It was Christmas eve and I didn't have elaborate plans, and Bologna seemed perfect.I lazily walked down the streets and walked into the cathedrals before reaching the foot of the Two Towers - Asinelli and Garisenda. It was quite surprising to learn that the Tower of Asinelli was the tallest leaning tower in Italy, much taller than the tower of Pisa (97 meters as compared to 56 meters).
The next morning, before leaving for Venice, I walked down to the University of Bologna - the oldest university of the world. Its alumni include Copernicus, Malfighi, Galvani, Marconi, Enzo Ferrari and had Dante Alighieri among others, as faculty.
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland, with beautiful Lake Zürich and many other architectural wonders. Fifa World Museum is located right here for football fans. I rather chose to scroll through Toy Museum. If you want to see how toys looked like 300 years ago, just spare some time for it. Quite fascinated with these preserves I decided to pay a visit to a church nearby, and the architecture and carvings were marvellous.Read More
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland, with beautiful Lake Zürich and many other architectural wonders. Fifa World Museum is located right here for football fans. I rather chose to scroll through Toy Museum. If you want to see how toys looked like 300 years ago, just spare some time for it. Quite fascinated with these preserves I decided to pay a visit to a church nearby, and the architecture and carvings were marvellous.
Day 7: Next day we moved to Zurich as next we had early morning flight for Mumbai from Zurich Airport. So, in short we had only few hours to explore Zurich .After hotel check-in we left for Rhine Falls, the biggest waterfall in Europe.The view was mesmerizing. Bought some chocolates and souvenirs there and left for Zurich old market. We reached bit late as all shops get closed by 7 in the evening. Enjoyed coffee and evening life of Zurich.Roamed around the streets,cafe and market with closed shops :( by the lake side. After sunset reached back to Hotel, had dinner and did packing as we were suppose to leave early morning to catch our flight.
We started from Zurich at 9:30 in the morning, bypassing through a few smaller towns and a conduit of ever impressive highways, before reaching our first stop at the town of Luzern. And it turned out to be one of those picturesque ancient towns, I definitely did not want to miss on during my visit to Switzerland.
This exciting city should be at the center of every Swiss Itinerary. Its suave views, glittering skyscapers and art galleries adhere well to the Swiss standards. The city, crowned by the Alps, won't let you off without some great memories.
3 | Geneva + Interlaken + LUCERNE + ZurichArrival in French-styled Geneva, seated on Europe’s largest glacier lake, visitors are immediately struck by the clarity of the crystal clear waters. The lingering Alps reflected brightly off the lake while Geneva vies as one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities. Move on to Interlaken and Lucerne for everything from hiking in the Alps, ski diving to chocolate tasting. Ideal for outdoor and photography lovers. By train, Geneva to Interlaken: 4hr 30 min then Interlaken by way of Lucerne to Zurich: 2 hr 46 min.
19:00 h. Zurich – Dinner in the restaurant of your choice. Transfer to hotel about 22 hrs.Total distance: 690 kmScenery: Lakes and mountains in Switzerland. Note: We enter France, remember to have your passport ready.07:30 h. – Zurich – Departure.09:00 h. – Berna – Arrival-. Free time in the Swiss capital which has an attractive historical centre with the appearance of a “large village”. We will visit the Federal Council Square, the Cathedral and the Clock Tower, and see the city’s statues and fountains.11:00 h. – Berne – Departure-. View of Neuchatel Lake. We cross the Free Country amidst beautiful scenery. After crossing the French border we will stop for dinner in a service area.
3. A bread, bean and biscotti feast in FlorenceEvery turn in Florence will greet you with people feasting on bread and bean soup, and the mandatory Chianti wine.Eating Italy's food tour starts from Oltrarno, Italy's answer to Paris' Left Bank. Take delight in the region's Bohemian vibe, abuzz with students and artists in hipster cafes and an all-round vibrant culture. The tour is bound to give away a number of local food and restaurant secrets. Among the multitude of food and wine tastings, you'll also learn to make Italian cantucci (biscotti), sample locally made fennel salami or Finocchiona, Tuscan cheeses and crostinis, and stop at an authentic Italian trattoria (restaurant) for steaming hot soups. Don't leave before having Florence’s famous steak, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and of course, end the tour with gelato.Read More
3. A bread, bean and biscotti feast in FlorenceEvery turn in Florence will greet you with people feasting on bread and bean soup, and the mandatory Chianti wine.Eating Italy's food tour starts from Oltrarno, Italy's answer to Paris' Left Bank. Take delight in the region's Bohemian vibe, abuzz with students and artists in hipster cafes and an all-round vibrant culture. The tour is bound to give away a number of local food and restaurant secrets. Among the multitude of food and wine tastings, you'll also learn to make Italian cantucci (biscotti), sample locally made fennel salami or Finocchiona, Tuscan cheeses and crostinis, and stop at an authentic Italian trattoria (restaurant) for steaming hot soups. Don't leave before having Florence’s famous steak, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and of course, end the tour with gelato.
(b) When one talks of language barrier, Italy is the first point of reference and in Italy also, the Tuscany Region ranks number 1. Having said that, our maximum encounters with 'Humans of Europe' happened in Tuscany. One such was at a Farmer's market. My mother who is a local food enthusiast, on her own visited the Farmer's Market in Florence and returned with a bag full of local herbs, cheese and fruits. When we asked her how did you communicate with the Farmers (they only speak Italian and Spanish), she matter of fact replied 'With actions'. Also has learnt the recipe of local ravioli just through ACTIONS. The Italian farmers and my mother synced in so well that we had a dinner invite from a local farmer family and mother made made 'Dal Makhani' for them. The food at the dinner was what #foodgasm hashtag is for. The farmer's son who knew English, translated our conversation for them and their conversation for us. At the end, I felt as if I was sitting amongst my big, fat family from Punjab, giggling and laughing away to glory.
The homesickness eventually vanished as I travelled to the other cities. Florence was my next stop, which is a lovely town just four hours away from Rome by train. The hostel here was more like an inn that I booked through AirBNB. I made friends with guys from London and South Africa and am still in touch with them. It is amazing for slightly shy people like me that while travelling alone you are open to striking conversations and getting to know people, but when you have company, you are so comfortable with your companion that you don’t really want to make the extra effort of talking to strangers. Meeting new people transforms your worldview and makes you a totally different person. You no more want to dwell over the petty issues of life, which restricts you from doing so many wonderful things. Moving on, Florence was exceptionally beautiful and well-designed. I did not really spend any time standing in mind numbing queues to see any of the architectural marvels, but spent the days exploring the different parts of the city, climbing hills, and going to nearby villages. Florence falls in the Tuscan region, which is famous for its wineries. I would recommend to pre-book a tour to one of the wineries for a more authentic experience.
Day 09-10: Check out of Hotel Deko Rome. Take train from Rome to Florence. Check in Hotel Lungarno in FlorenceThe best way to see Rome and Florence is on foot. Walk through the myriad lanes and by-lanes, relive the medieval times and and savour the city. Visit colosseum, pantheon, Trevi, hand of truth, Duomo, academia to see David whatever you like; have delicious cheesecake at Babingtons (the best till date); get a caricature/portrait done; do some shopping - leather bags/gloves/belts/masks/perfumes etc.Reserve a day for Vatican, I liked St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican more than Sistine chapel. Make sure to book tickets in advance for Vatican, Colosseum, academia in Florence, Uffizi. Read up a bit on Christianity if u want to enjoy more. Listen to the music artists while watching sunset at one of the bridges in Florence; have Gelato at Vivoli. Cafe dell'oro serves great pasta.
Like you can't miss this amazing view of Florence, you also can't miss visiting Galleria degli Uffizi. It not only gives you a lesson on the evolution of art in Europe but also houses some of the greatest paintings of the world.
Florence is the birth place of Renaissance, so there is art in every corner, literally. Apart from the Renaissance period art and architecture, Florence is replete with street art.I made my way to Piazza della Signoria. The following photographs provide a glimpse of the magnificent sculptures of Renaissance era which are at display at the Piazza and along the way.
It was time to move on to the next stop on my trip map, Florence. Getting to Florence from Rome is simple, there are trains almost every hour from the Termini station. I took a slow train (3 hours journey time) as it was cheaper and would also allow me to enjoy the Tuscan landscape, not zip past at a breakneck speed.
Florence 3 days
Hostel: Ostello del Bigallo
Hostels don't get more scenic than Ostello del Bigallo. It is built on a monastery dating back to the 13th century. A beautiful garden upfront and panoramic view of Florence from the terrace adds to its charm. The only catch is that the hostel is an hour's ride from the city and involves a 2 km hike.
Hotel: Ginori al Duomo
The staff is extremely friendly and its location, a short walk from the train station, is ideal. However, there is no getting around the three story climb as the hotel doesn't have a lift.
Florence/ Firenze The next day, we head out to Florence or Firenze. I’m pretty proud of this segment of our trip since I knew exactly what I wanted to see and when. So, for the Tuscany region our base was Florence. We left Venice fairly early in the morning and were in Florence by 12 noon- checked into our lovely airbnb apartment by 1 pm. We had the whole day to our selves for exploring the city since the next we decided to go in for a day trip to Cinque Terre. We wanted to visit the Uffizi Gallery, but decided to skip the same and instead soak in the city by simply walking around and of course eating yummy food! We did visit the grand Duomo, checked out Piazza Michelango and sat down at the Loggia dei Lanzi and watched the beautiful Piazza della Signoria. Another smart move was to take a pass for a hop-on-hop-off bus. Initially, I thought that it looked a little foolish but trust me; you can do a lot with that bus pass. There are a couple of routes that the bus service has where it takes you through all the must see spots. If you want to get off, great. If you don’t, you can simply keep sitting. We also enjoyed a lovely pizza meal at Piazza Republica– one of the prettiest squares in the city, defined by its opulence.