As much as I love to plan, life sometimes gets in the way.
That is how a recent weekend away in Florence turned into a day trip.
Luckily, Florence is an easy day trip from Rome.
Just 1.5 hours away by (fast) train, the city is accessible if you are craving a break from Rome, or want to add more sites to you Italy itinerary.
It has been years since I visited Florence with a friend.
When Jimmy and I realized that we had never seen Firenze together, he booked us a wine tasting in the city as a treat.
We woke up last Saturday and grabbed the 8:15 am Italo train to Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s main train station. By 9:45 I was sipping a cappuccino a few streets down from the Duomo.
In the winter, Florence tends to be colder than Rome, but we tried to ignore the drizzle as we explored.
We walked along the Arno to say hello to Ponte Vecchio.
The crowds in February are manageable and I was charmed by the angles of the waterfront’s windows. A mishmash of structures jets out from the bridge.
On the ponte, love locks weigh down the rails.
As we passed shops laden with fresh produce, we started to crave a meal of our own and an escape from the rain.
We slowly meandered towards our lunch destination da Sergio – also known as Trattoria Gozzi (Piazza di San Lorenzo, 8R).
Consulting the hand written menu, we started with vino della casa to warm up.
The cold weather put us in the mood for something hearty and Tuscan.
Jimmy’s Peposo with potatoes was amazing.
And I can never resist pappardella al cinghiale – wild boar ragu.
Filled with leisurely lunchers, the food came quickly but we felt the need to linger and soak up the atmosphere at da Sergio before continuing to explore Florence.
A more compact city than Rome, Florence is easy to navigate.
We, however, were there for the wine.
Located behind the stalls selling leather belts and knock off bags of San Lorenzo’s market is Casa del Vino.
I was instantly sold on this tiny place, with a small marble bar and plenty of locals.
You can order a glass of wine and a panino made with 3 local ingredients or sample small crostini. It was hard to leave the cozy space once we settled in.
Work obligations meant I had to catch a train back to Rome, leaving Jimmy with an extra day to enjoy Florence solo. Since our trip was cut short, we have an excuse to go back soon.
There are a few main options for train tickets to Rome to Florence, or Florence to Rome (and here is a full guide on how to buy train tickets in Italy):
- Trenitalia: Trains depart about every 30 minutes from Termini (and sometimes Tiburtina) to Firenze Santa Maria Novella. The frecciarossa and frecciargento take 1 hour and 30 minutes. You can opt for the regionale veloce (leaving every 2 hours or so), and this will save you some cash but will also take 3 hours and 52 minutes to arrive– seriously cutting into your exploration time. Tickets on regional trains are also unreserved so you may end up without a seat.
- Italo Treno: Trains depart from Roma Termini, stopping next in Roma Tiburtina, about every hour or half hour depending on the time of day. The trip takes 1 hour and 30 minutes, and the trains usually offer pretty decent free wifi. Usually. I tend to prefer Italo treno, and book a first class ticket when I can justify the expense, just to have a bit more leg room.
- ItaliaRail: Pulls together all available options across companies and allows you to hide the slow trains from your search results so that there is no chance of making a mistake. It is also 100% in English. Plus, if you think that your travel dates or times might potentially change, you can pay a bit more up front for a flexible ticket, or add trip insurance to your purchase.
In all cases, the sooner you buy your ticket, the better. Trenitalia and Italo Treno both regularly run discounts if you sign up for their emails (in Italian). However, ItaliaRail is by far the easiest to use. Just don’t wait too long to book – much like airplane tickets, prices tend to go up the closer you buy the ticket to your departure date.
For us in February, we scored fast train tickets for just €16 each way, making a day trip from Rome to Florence an absolutely affordable option too.
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