My next adventure: Istanbul/Eskişehir (Türkiye) – April 2024

Florence – July 2023

Day 3 (Florence) – Wonders of Florence

Today was a ‘train’ day (let’s call these days this from now on!) as we headed down to Florence on the Frecciarossa from Milano Centrale. When booking, I was instructed to be at the assistance point 30 minutes prior to departure (one is usually told this in the UK, however 30 minutes means 10 with me, thought I would behave this time) and, like that, a guy from Sala Blu (Assistance division of Italian Railways) was waiting for us to assist through the station and onto the subsequent train…

It always intrigues the way that different countries load Superbunny onto trains, the majority of European countries use swivel lifts and Italy is no exception (bar the fact that this one actually worked unlike Croatia!). The swivel lift is a simple piece of equipment where you drive on, it lifts up to the level of said train and then staff twist the thing so you can drive straight onto the train (although nothing can beat a good old ramp to whizz down when one is in a rush in the UK!)…

Spacious wheelchair space also…

After reaching speeds of 300km/h through the Italian countryside, said train pulled into Florence. When visiting European cities, there is always the issue surrounding level access into restaurants (even in Milan) thus I was pleasantly surprised to have a plethora of accessible restaurants to choose from, perhaps due to the number of tourists?

Our first stop was to marvel at the gigantic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore which is much taller than imagined…

The accessibility entrance is located to the side although not signposted whatsoever…just bang on the door with a ramp until someone let’s you in! Again, disabled individuals can enter for FREE!

All the main sights of Florence such as the Ponte Vecchio and Pitti Palace are within walking distance and can be done in a few hours…

Providing that you stick to the pedestrianised centre, everything is pretty accessible. Granted that there is a small number of cobbled streets, however, Superbunny seemed to have no problem tackling these (either that or one has become accustomed to such areas after visiting Riga in Latvia or Tallinn in Estonia). The issues start when you begin to venture out of the centre where the pavements narrow considerably and you have buses approaching that are the width of the road…good for hunting Gelato places though!

As our train back to Milan wasn’t until 20:55, there was plenty of time to sample the Tuscan cuisine and general wandering. Outside the city centre, Florence is home to a tram network which uses modern rolling stock with level access alongside buses with conventional ramps.

Although our wandering and cuisine sampling was passing the time, it was decided that we would try our luck catch the 19:55 train instead (trains from Milan to Naples stopping at Florence seem to run every hour). With the assistance of Sala Blu, we were able to change our tickets for just 5 euro per person.

Tomorrow, we explore the modern side of Milan by catching the M5 to the CityLife district with a visit to the Branca Tower to round off this Italian adventure.

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