Tag Archives: Florence

Last Day–Cats & Rome

Today we woke up around 7 and got ready to leave the villa. We said our goodbyes and Greg drove us, Jim and, Doreen to the train station in Castelfiorentino. We were all taking the train from Castelfiorentino to Florence. From Florence, Don and I were going back to Rome for the day so we could fly back home the next day. The train from Florence to Rome was pretty cool, it was a high speed train, 247 km/h.

We arrived in Rome at noon and we were on a mission to find the luggage deposit so we could walk around Rome all day without our bags. I had found instructions online on how to get to the luggage deposit in Roma Termini but none of them were very descriptive. Basically the easiest way to do it is by exiting Roma Termini onto Via Giovanni Giolitti and walk South along the train station and just after the Airport Shuttle you can re-enter the train station and you will find where you can deposit your luggage. It was super easy and and I think it was around 10 Euros for us to leave our bags there for about 5 hours.

We wanted to leave our bags because we had to be back at the train station later to take the train to our hotel by the airport. Once we were not weighted down by our luggage we were free to roam Rome for the afternoon.

We wanted to have carbonara again because we couldn’t stop thinking about since the dinner in Montecatini Alto. I found a place called La Carbonara and we decided to have lunch there. It was pretty crowded and seemed like a tourist trap.  The carbonara was nothing compared to what we had earlier in the week at Casa Gala. It was ok though.

After lunch we walked to the cat ruins at Largo di Torre Argentina. When we were in Rome earlier in the week I had noticed there were no cats roaming around and I thought this was weird because every where we have traveled has had cats. I usually make it a point to photograph cats in places to travel to, so I was a bit disappointed by the lack of cats in Rome.  A friend commented to me on facebook that we should visit this place and I hadn’t even heard of it so I wanted to check it out on our last day. Largo di Torre Argentina is an archaeological site where there is also a cat sanctuary. Stray cats are cared for here at the shelter and they are allowed to roam the ruins. This place is also were Julius Caesar was killed. It was a weird place. When we first arrived we were looking down at the site and we saw a few cats sleeping among the ruins. It was so hot. We were trying to find a way to get down into the ruins and we found stairs that went down to the shelter. We went into the shelter to check out the cats. The shelter was divided into two areas: one area had cats that were recovering either from sickness or injury and the other side had cats that were just roaming freely. The cats were well cared for and it seemed like you could adopt cats. I am still unsure about that. All of the products they were selling were used to benefit the shelter. I bought a magnet here. We spent some time with the cats and it was pretty cool. I was a bit disappointed because while you could look down into the archaeological site and point out cats you could not go into the site. The site itself seemed a bit forgotten, there were signs around that you could read about the place but other than that there was very little information on site. It seems like they could do more to this place but maybe they are working on it. It was very cool to see cats in the ruins.

After the ruins we didn’t really know what else we wanted to see but we were not ready to go to our hotel. We decided to check out this park we saw on the map earlier, so we risked taking the city bus again. We successfully rode the bus to Villa Borghese Park on the North side of Rome. It was a nice park, we walked around for a bit, and then we noticed there was some kind of horse show going on. We stopped for a bit to watch some horses run around and do some tricks. It was pretty cool, we have never really seen anything like it. Then we walked around some more and came across a small pond where people were in rowboats. Later I found out this area was called Temple of Asclepius. It was a really pretty area. Then we decided to walk back. We stopped at a cafe in hopes of using a bathroom but their bathroom was closed. We each had an overpriced cappuccino and enjoyed being outside at the park. We tried to take the bus back to Roma Termini to get our train but the bus was never coming so we ended up walking. It was about a 30 minute walk.

On our walk back to train station, I may have left my hat in Rome….I just didn’t want it anymore.

We got our luggage from the luggage deposit and we were both so happy that it worked out for us. Then we took the train from Roma Termini to the airport. Once we got to the airport we couldn’t figure out how to get to our hotel. We were staying at a Hilton but there were two Hiltons near the airport. We ended up walking to the Hilton that was connected to the airport because it was right there and we hoped that there would be a shuttle we could take to ours, but there was not. The walk was so long and I was getting tired and grouchy. We had to walk back to into the airport where we ended up calling our hotel and they told us where to find our shuttle. We were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Rome Airport hotel, which was still very near the airport but you could not walk. It is also cheaper than the Hilton Rome Airport, so if you are ever trying to get to it the shuttle is at terminal 3 door 3 in the airport. The shuttle was weird because it went all around the airport and airport workers would use it.

Once we got to the hotel we were surprised to see the check in line was out the door. The check in went pretty fast though. There were a ton of police checking in and all around which I thought was weird but apparently it was the G7 Summit here.

The room here was nice, along with the lobby. I would definitely suggest staying here for the convenience and the price. We decided to get some dinner at the hotel restaurant, it wasn’t very good. Don had carbonara and I had pizza. During dinner we were watching a couple from afar who were in an obvious fight. They were American and we had fun commentating on what the fight could be about. It lasted a long time.

I can’t believe tomorrow we are leaving Italy. This trip has been awesome. I really don’t want to leave.


Florence & An Amazing Dinner

Today we got on the bus again around 9 to head to Florence.

The bus ride was more fun and interesting today because it started out with Greg finding out there was a microphone in the front of the bus.

“How did I not know this was here? Welcome to your hell.”

On the way to Florence Don and I were trying to help Greg finalize the menu for our dinner tonight in Montecatini Alto. We were helping him translate emails from the restaurant owner because google translate was not doing the best job. When the menu was finalized google translated two of the dishes to “Sweet Ass” and “Poodle Wallet”.  So needless to say there were a lot of jokes pertaining to this.

Once we got to Florence the bus stopped at Piazzale Michelangelo so we could take some photos. The Piazzale Michelangelo has panoramic views of Florence; it also has a replica of Michelangelo’s David. The views were pretty amazing.

After everyone got their photos we got back on the bus and the bus dropped us off near the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It was very beautiful.

We took a lot of pictures of the church and then decided it was time to find some lunch before meeting for our walking tour. On our search for food we found the house of the poet Dante Alighieri. Don thought this was very cool because he likes his works. We also found there was a museum for Dante. Before checking out the museum we found a really cute little restaurant that was ran by two sisters, called Antica Bottega Wine Tasting. It was probably one of my favorite meals we had at a restaurant in Italy and it was so simple. Don had the lasagna and I had a prosciutto and mozzarella panini. It was so good!!!  I want to go back! We also each had glasses of the Dante wine, because apparently we were hanging out in his hood. The panini was so good. We had a good time here chatting with the sisters a bit, they told us they had been to Chicago and really liked it. After lunch we made our way to Museo Casa di Dante.

The Dante Museum was pretty cool, really informative. It was 4 Euros each and it only took about 40 minutes for us to go through it. We probably could have spent a little more time here but we had to meet our tour guide at 2 pm.

Our walking tour guide was named Laura and she was very good. One highlight of the tour was seeing the Mercato del Porcellino, which is basically a market. Don was excited to see it because it is in the game Assassin’s Creed.

We also saw all of the statues at the Piazza della Signoria. I enjoyed watching an old man feed pigeons here. The pigeons knew him! He must have come there every day to feed them because they were climbing all over him.

By the end of the tour we were all really tired but we got a boost of energy with some gelato. Then we all got back on the bus and made our way to Montecatini Alto for dinner.

Montecatini Alto is a really cool town because it is up on a mountain and you take a rail car up to the town.

The views at the top were really amazing.

We had some time before dinner to walk around a bit and explore the town. It seemed pretty small but beautiful. We took a lot of pictures of the city below us.

I also found a cat here…

We had dinner reservations at Casa Gala. It was a super cute place and it was probably one of the best meals we have ever had.

Since we had a big group the restaurant just picked out a menu for us. We were able to try all of their appetizers I think, and they were all delicious. We had an awesome meat and cheese board and something with eggplant that was good too. There were delicious sardine bruschetta and fried pasta for appetizers also.  I wish I could find a copy of their menu. We thought the best dish here was the carbonara. It was the first place we had ever had carbonara and it was awesome!! It’s a pasta dish with egg, cheese, and crispy bacon pieces. The dishes kept coming out and everything was amazing. There was a gnocchi but it had bleu cheese in it and also a pork tenderloin that was good. Our dessert was cheesecake. I wish I had taken more pictures but I was enjoying this meal too much. It was a perfect night.

After dinner we walked down a bit to the bus because the rail car was no longer running. It was a very pretty walk with all of the city lights below us.