I spent two nights in Florence and then had to catch up with the pilgrims.
Patricia told me it was easy to travel. Easy, yes, but straightforward, maybe not. I bought my ticket 40m from where we were staying. They were very helpful, and told me two facts.
This was not from the usual railway station. This was quite good, as I would have gone to the wrong place. Firenze SM is not Firenze.
I had to get my ticket validated before getting on the train. Which was also good to know. I messed up this simple act trying to stick my ticket in a machine and had to get human intervention. But, when I caught my bus later on I knew what to do and actually helped someone else.
I caught the tran. But only just. It came to the wrong platform. This woman said to me “Do you speak English?” and then “If you are looking for the train in platform 5 to Naples, it is her now in a different place” I only just got it.
They even grafitti their trains!!
She turned out to be an Interesting Person of whom I met four over the course of the trip.
She was an artist, from England, had been here for years and lived mainly in Florence. She told me she had had enormous trouble finding suitable accommodation, and that Florence was good to learn art, but bad for painting. To cold in winter. To hot and insecty in summer.
On the bus I met a couple from Genoa (which is pronouced Gen-oo-a) who they described as Italy’s Riveriera. They were ‘not on holiday’ but there to ‘drink the waters’ which were apparently very good for your health. Specifically your liver. Terme as in where we were staying means ‘springs’.
The next person was (wait for it) – traveling with a choir. She was German-Swiss and did a yodelling mass.
The last person was not from Italia, but had learned English from videos and was working 7 days a week in a hotel here to earn money, having left her young daughter home in her country of origin. I felt both huge sadness in her and yet she had quite a remarkable resilience. She did not lke her job and was trained in commerce.
I caught the train.
Talked to the artist woman the whole way, then a bus which took the country route to arrive 5 minutes before tea, at Hotel Susy. Tea was 5 courses. Salad > soup > pasta > meat > dessert. Broccoli pasta. Can you imagine this with 26 girls? But noone went hungry. We planned the next day: Siena for a mass and tour.