Are you flying into either Florence or Pisa? If so you may be wondering how to get into town from the airport. Both airports are small and efficient and both have inexpensive options to get you into the heart of the city.
FROM FLORENCE AIRPORT
Florence Peretola airport, which is also known as Amerigo
Vespucci airport, is just 4 km outside the city center city and Santa Maria
Novella train station.
There are 2 main ways to get to and from the airport.
The taxi ride from the airport to the city center takes 15
minutes. It will cost you a flat fee of 22 euros with an additional euro per
extra suitcase. Normally if there are only 2 or 3 of us I haven’t been charged
for surplice luggage.
If you don’t know your way around Florence a taxi is by far your easiest option door to door, especially if you have heavy luggage or are tired from you flight. Remember Florence has cobble-stoned streets so dragging suitcases around can be difficult and also can be tough on your suitcase wheels.
As of February 2019 Florence now has a tram service that takes
you from the airport to Santa Maria Novella station. The tram ride takes 15
minutes and costs 1.50 euros.
The tram is easy to find. As you exit the airport terminal turn left and follow the signs to the T1 Tram. There are ticket machines at the tram stop. You may have to buy an additional ticket for oversized luggage.
When you board the tram you need to validate your ticket in the yellow machine beside the door. Should guards/conductors/police board your tram and check tickets there is a huge fine for a non-validated ticket.
FROM PISA AIRPORT
The other airport in Tuscany is Pisa’s Galileo airport. Often
you can find fantastic deal flying into Pisa instead of Florence, so it pays to
check it out when booking your flights.
There are two main ways to get from Pisa airport into Florence.
To take the train from Galileo Airport you will first take the Pisa Mover Shuttle from the airport into the Pisa Centrale train station. From there you take a train directly into Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station.
Trains run on average 3 times per hour and cost less than 10 euros. The trip runs between an hour and an hour and 20 minutes.
There are also charter companies that offer bus service from Galileo Airport to Florence Santa Maria Novella train station. This can be a great option as your luggage gets stored below, so you don’t have to deal with it, and you have a very comfortable and pretty drive through Tuscany and into Florence. You can see the timetable and website here. You should book in advance as the bus does fill up quickly. The cost is around 14 euros. The ride takes approximately an hour.
From the arrivals terminal exit and turn left. The bus stops are in the corner of parking lot number 3. You can purchase tickets from the bus driver or from the ticket machines both inside and outside the airport.
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When I am going to be traveling anywhere I like to read books
set in that place before I go. It’s fun stumbling upon places you’ve read about
and being able to recognize shops and restaurants and landmarks from a book,
but also you can discover places you had never heard of before that may be
close to where you are going or perhaps are just a train ride away. Adding
these spots to your itinerary can end up being the highlight of you trip!
During this Coronavirus / COVID19 outbreak we are all facing some form of self isolating or quarantine. Books not only keep us entertained but also help us escape when the world around us gets too crazy. Sharing physical books is not necessarily safe at this time, so I recommend you read digitally instead.
*I don’t own a Kindle but I do read everything on the Kindle App (on my iPad.) Books purchased via Kindle (or using the Kindle App) are very inexpensive, averaging about $3.99 *Many authors will mark their first in series free and do box sets very inexpensively. *If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you get as many books as you want, for free. You can cancel at anytime and keep the books you have downloaded. A subscription to Kindle Unlimited is $9.99 *If you have Amazon Prime you not only have access to Prime TV, movies and music but also to free books and magazines. Amazon offers a free 30 day trial to Prime. Links: Kindle, Amazon Prime Free Trial , Kindle Unlimited Subscription
Books can help you get into the travel vibe, or when you get home can keep the magic alive for a while longer. Some of the books on this list are novels, others are autobiographies.
The books on this list are all available on Amazon and have affiliate links.
Four retired women decide to pool their resources and rent a villa in Tuscany for a year. As the story unfolds you get a look not only at Tuscany but also other parts of Italy, meet some fun local characters and get to enjoy the adventures and love affairs of the four protagonists. This book is fabulous and is wonderful for all ages. Women In Sunlight.
After a devastating divorce California native Laura Fraser eventually decided to go to Italy to visit some friends. Unexpectedly in the midst of her heartache she met a lovely and complicated man with whom she then embarked on an affair that lasted for years. This gorgeous autobiography is perfect for anyone who has ever secretly dreamt about finding a fabulous man while on vacation and having an affair with substance that continues as the years roll by. Over the course of several years Fraser takes you all over Italy and introduces you to some places you probably have never heard of before. An Italian Affair
Pellegrino has many books set in Italy and all are wonderful. This one finds her protagonist at a crisis point in her life. She stumbles across a house swap website, finds a beautiful old summer villa in southern Italy and is able to do a swap with her little London flat as the villa owner needs to work in London for a few months. The story that unfolds is just gorgeous and will leave you dreaming about a house swap of your own! This is one of several books Pellegrino has written that center around the same house, the Villa Rosa. Each of her stories set at the villa will leave you dying to spend a summer there. Under Italian Skies
After traveling to Venice several times Barry and his wife decided to take a year out from their life in Florida and live in the most unique city on earth. This book is different from most of the expat-living-abroad stories in that they rent, not buy and only spend one year. The story is delightful and funny and inspiring, exposing the reader to a slice of Venice most tourists don’t see. It is also incredibly relatable because they are just normal folk who bring their computers and work from home. They make you realize that you don’t have to have great wealth to do something like this, which opens up endless opportunities to those of us who would love to do something similar. The Venice Experiment
and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading
tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left
behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and
returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives
across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli
della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag
with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on
his deathbed, twelve years earlier.
Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life. The Rome Affair
Food and Travel writer Diana Armstrong buys and renovates a 400 year old home in a tiny town not far from Orvieto. Once again the cast of local characters is fascinating and fun, the local history is intriguing and you will be left wanting to buy your own home in Italy. I particularly loved when her friends would come visit from the US, and all the food shopping and preparation Armstrong does. Somewhere South of Tuscany
Paul Stuart, a renowned food writer, finds himself at loose ends after his longtime girlfriend leaves him for her personal trainer. To cheer him up, Paul’s editor, Gloria, encourages him to finish his latest cookbook on-site in Tuscany, hoping that a change of scenery (plus the occasional truffled pasta and glass of red wine) will offer a cure for both heartache and writer’s block. But upon Paul’s arrival, things don’t quite go as planned. A mishap with his rental-car reservation leaves him stranded, until a newfound friend leads him to an intriguing alternative: a bulldozer.
With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts the offer, and as he journeys (well, slowly trundles) into the idyllic hillside town of Montalcino, he discovers that the bulldozer may be the least of the surprises that await him. What follows is a delightful romp through the lush sights and flavors of the Tuscan countryside, as Paul encounters a rich cast of characters, including a young American woman who awakens in him something unexpected.
A feast for the senses and a poignant meditation on the complexity of human relationships, My Italian Bulldozer is a charming and intensely satisfying love story for anyone who has ever dreamed of a fresh start. My Italian Bulldozer
In the 4th story about
symbologist Robert Langdon (Angels and Demons, Da Vinci Code and The Lost
Symbol) he inexplicably wakes up in a hospital in Florence with a head injury,
memory loss and an assassin hunting him down. With a mystery bound up in Dante’s
Inferno, the story takes you through Florence then on to Venice as Langdon
tried to figure out the clues left by a dead billionaire who had planned the
release of a virus to cull the world population.
Not only an exciting and fast paced read, this book will inspire you to make your own Inferno walking tour of Florence. (Or join one of the guided Inferno walking tours!) Inferno
After a tragic shooting at the
University of Texas, classics professor Sophie Chase along with her star pupil
and some colleagues takes on an academic project in Naples. A villa has been discovered
after being buried for nearly 2000 years in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius,
along with a trove of documents. The discovery leads them on a chase involving an
ancient mystery, 1st century nobles and a slave girl at the heart of
an ancient controversy.
Their billionaire benefactor puts
everyone up at a villa he owns in Capri, from where this fast paced murder mystery
moves back and forth across the bay of Naples with plenty of twists and turns. Whatever shocking
events transpired in the face of Vesuvius’s fury have led to deeper, darker
machinations that inexorably draw Sophie into their vortex, rich in stunning
revelations and laden with unseen menace.
This is especially good for anyone who enjoys mysteries, Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, and will be traveling to Naples or Capri. The Night Villa
Facing a post-divorce early mid-life
crisis, writer Elizabeth Gilbert decides to spend a year traveling alone
through 3 countries, Italy, India and Bali, in order to feed her soul, become
more spiritually aware and shift her perspective on romance. The first third of
this year takes place in Rome and focuses on the food she eats, the things she
sees and the lifelong friendships she makes.
Eat, Pray, Love is a gorgeous book that spent 4 years on the New York Times Bestseller List before being made into a movie. Eat, Pray, Love
In 1962 while Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were making headlines in Rome, an ingénue arrives by boat to a little town just beyond the Cinqueterre. This beautiful story of an actress, a novelist and an innkeeper with a dream combines a little intrigue with 1960’s Hollywood and life on the coast of Liguria. Spanning 50 years, this is a gorgeous story will keep you engrossed until the last sentence. Beautiful Ruins
This is first in a murder mystery series set in Venice. Local police detective Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates the murder of a much disliked but brilliant German conductor during the intermission at the La Fenice opera house. He works his way through the mystery with the backdrop of Venice, its culture and somewhat dirty politics. This entire series is tremendous, especially if you are going to or already love Venice. Death at La Fenice
This autobiography is first in
series about two sisters who decide to escape the dreary British winter and run
away to a hilltop town in Liguria to work the season in a rose grafting
business. (Not knowing anything about roses). Of course nothing goes as planned,
but they fall in love with this crazy little town and end up buying a rundown
cottage which is really not much more than a shed and costs them less than a
With a non-existent budget they
slowly renovate the cottage not only making it livable but also building themselves
a new life.
Another first in series
autobiography, this one will make you fall in love with southern Italian life.
When Australian Chris Harrison went
to Dublin he never dreamed his life was about to change forever. He met the
love of his life, Daniela and before he knew it moved to her southern Puglia
town of Andrano.
This autobiography not only takes
you through this gorgeous part of Italy with its whitewashed towns, olive
groves, incredible beaches and cobblestoned streets, but also takes you along
on his journey dealing with every day life. He has to deal with the infuriating
bureaucracy and with Daniela’s mamma who is determined to convert him to Catholicism
and build an extension to her house for them to live in.
The true story of Frances and her husband Ed buying and renovating an old home in Tuscany. Endlessly enjoyable more than 20 years after first being published, it will make you dream about buying your own villa in Tuscany. If you have watched the movie you can still enjoy the book as other than the house being called Bramasole, the town being Cortona and there really being a team of Polish workers, the two stories are vastly different. Under The Tuscan Sun
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Could UFO’s have been flying over Renaissance Italy?
There is a little extraterrestrial intrigue at the Palazzo Vecchio in the historic heart of beautiful Florence. Up on the top floor of the palace in the Hall of Hercules there is a large tondo (circular frame with the painting inside) measuring about one meter across, featuring the Madonna and Child with St John the Baptist.
It’s quite lovely, right? But there may just be a little more to this painting than meets the eye. We don’t know exactly who painted it. It has alternately been attributed to Tondo Miller, Bastiano Mainardi and Arcangelo di Jacopo del Sellaio but no one seems to know for certain who’s work it is. It happens, and this is not the only painting in Florence with an artist we can’t name.
At first glance it looks like any other Renaissance Madonna and Child with St John the Baptist. It is nice enough but you wouldn’t necessarily stop and swoon over it. In a city with more art within one square kilometer than any other city in the world, this painting is lovely but expected. You can imagine it on the walls of any Florentine palazzo. She is pretty, wears a red dress with a dark cape and a young John the Baptist is there with with baby Jesus. Ho hum.
But look over Mary’s shoulder and things get interesting. In the countryside behind her we see a shepherd with his small flock and his dog. Look more closely at both the shepherd and the dog. He has his hand raised to his forehead in awe and both he and the dog are looking up to the sky. Follow the line of their gaze and you will see what appears to be a B movie style flying saucer.
I’m not kidding! A grey, oval object is moving across the sky, with spiky golden rays emanating from it. Could it be a UFO?
The painting is dated to 1510-1520, a time during which there were no flying machines. Leonardo started work on his ornithopter around 1485 but the skies over Italy in those days were occupied only by birds. So what exactly is going on here?
UFOlogists are adamant that this is proof that UFOs were being sighted during the Renaissance. Some art historians say the odd looking grey object is an angel appearing as a cloud (I don’t see it – they were realllly good at painting angels back then. Renaissance painters specialized in angels, and none of them were painted as grey blobs with golden spikes coming out of them.) The historians also say the shepherd is shielding his eyes from the light of God and that the nativity star with the three smaller stars in the left hand corner represent Mary’s continued virginity, before, during and after childbirth.
What do you think? UFO or grey blob of angel? Or could it be something else altogether?
Are you planning a trip to Florence? Would you like to know my favorite secret spots in Florence? My favorite places for lunch and dinner, where to have a drink with a view, the best markets and even a secret jewelry shop behind a hidden door! Get my Secret Florence PDF for free. Download your copy HERE