Supermarket deli with a friendly guy preparing our order
We were on the road to Florence by 0905 and took the SS75 along the north side of Lake Trasimeno. I took the opportunity to follow the signs to Tuoro sul Traismeno, a small village that housed an information center concerning a battle in which the famous Carthaginian general Hannibal ambushed and destroyed a Roman army. In English it is called the Battle of Lake Trasimene. I don't like the map of the battle at the link as I believe Lake Trasimeno as the lake in the map looks just like the modern lake but the lake is gradually shrinking and two villages, Ossaia (Place of Bones) and Sanguineto (Place of Blood) are now a little ways in land. Anyway even if I'm wrong and the lake is the same size at it was back then there are many theories on how the battle actually unfolded.
The information center was closed in the village but there are a few information signs along the roads in this area and we found one describing the Roman Army and the probable courses of the battle.
We arrived in Florence a little after 11 and then tried to drive to our hotel. We soon got lost on the eastern side of town due to all the one way streets and narrow alleys. Michiyo's I-Phone couldn't help us so we grabbed an open parking spot on a side road and I walked with the I-Phone trying to find a route. The boys and I eventually found the hotel or "apartments" but the office is closed. There is a maid cleaning a room next door and she tells me the office opens at 1400. We walk back to the car and decide to find the Europa Car office, return the car then come back. We drop the car off and grab a cab back and have about an hour to kill.
On the Ponte Vecchio
At first Michiyo and the boys go out and explore the Sunday market in the square in front of the hotel while I guard the bags. 2 o'clock comes and the office is still dark. I look around and find a small notice with numbers to call after hours. Most numbers are out of service or won't answer. Finally get an answer and the girl says she'll be there at 3 to open the office. During this time I was thinking of giving up and going elsewhere but our problem was that we were loaded down with our luggage and our hotel was in a pedestrian area so it would be hard getting somewhere to flag down a cab. Michiyo comes back soon after and she watches the bags while the boys and I walk around and go into Santa Croce and see the grave of Galileo (covered up due to renovation work) and Machivelli's monument.
Artist Maria Dolea. I'm really not one to buy art off the street (or anywhere else for that matter!) but I loved how she used her colors and had to buy a souvenir.
We return at 3 and the girl isn't there. Call and get a curt "I'm coming" and then a dial tone. She arrives around 1520. We are a little steamed but the girl really has a "don't give a damn attitude". I tell her that there was nothing about reception being closed on a Sunday when I booked. Here is quote from my Expedia itinerary's Special Check in Instructions " Guests arriving after 8PM must contact the hotel using the phone number on the confirmation page received via booking via this Web site". Long story short we argue a while with the girl simultaneously saying that this isn't a hotel but apartments and apartments never have 24 hour service and blaming Expedia for the bad information. We told her we weren't blaming her but why should we be the one's that are rewarded with a crappy attitude and a waste of time because of Expedia's mistake? If we knew the office didn't open until 1500 we could have spent the day more profitably elsewhere.
Neptune fountain in Piazza della Signoria
Eventually the girl apologizes for the problem, checks us in, and offers us free wifi during our stay (turns out it didn't work in our room but the gesture was nice) . She gives us the contact information for the Expedia Italy manager and asks us to tell him about the bad information on the check in page. Here's the link to Expdia's page for MSNSUITES Palazzo dei Ciompi. I'll write a review on travbuddy but in short once we get to our apartment we are happy. We are more or less in walking distance of all the tourist sites in central Florence, our room is spacious and the sofa in the living room made a sizable double bed for the boys. We put the kitchen area and dining table to good use during our visit. Bad things were that the router for the wifi didn't work in our room, not being able to trust the office hours after our experience checking in, the sink leaked a little on the floor, and there was no maid service.
These cats are serious about kebabs. Best not to walk by their place with inferior kebab product. You will be schooled.
At the link above someone mentioned in his review that Expedia guests didn't get maid service. Why I don't know and didn't bother to find out. What I did finally find out was that the hotel's own web site doesn't mention the special Sunday operating hours. I'm begging to feel that the bosses girlfriend, or daughter, or daughter of a business associate that shouldn't be messed with, whoever the argumentative girl was didn't feel like coming in at 2 p.m. Even the hotel's own web site says that check in hours are from 2 to 9 p.m and reception hours are from 0830 to 0930. Nothing about the Sunday hours.
We were very fortunate this trip. I have just described our worst experience.
No rips offs, confrontations, theft, bad taxi drivers, and all the other minor irritants of travel the whole time, just some bad info put out by Expedia and a frustrating wait. If this is the worst that happens to me every time I travel then I'll take it....
After getting settled the boys and I walk down the block to the supermarket just to pick up some water and drinks. I go by the deli and the guy behind the counter must see my eyes light up at all the good stuff he had there and just started offering me different examples of meat and cheese. He was great and eventually we bought enough to feed us for lunch and dinner later that night.
We have a good lunch and then walk back to Santa Croce giving Michiyo a chance to visit. We cross the crowded Ponte Vecchio and walk down to the Palazzo Pitti.
Michiyo is looking in all the stores and wants to buy Italian shoes but the Italian ones are very expensive and why go to Italy to buy the ones made in China? The gardens behind the Palazzo Pitti were closing so instead we crossed back over the river and went to the Piazza della Signoria. Now I usually try to avoid places that take advantage of their location to charge high prices but all the statues and atmosphere of the square had me wanting to sit down and relax to take it all in. I asked the waiters at the Rivoire if it would be OK just to order a beer and they said sure. Now the privilege of the fine view and a beer and two cokes cost around 25 Euros but I don't begrudge the money.
We were there for almost an hour and I could relax and take in all the status and fine buildings.
On the way home I passed a kebab stand and decided to get one. Everyone else was still full from lunch and didn't order. I'm walking down the street with my kebab when we pass another kebab restaurant. The guy in there starts yelling that my kebab was no good and that I didn't know anything about a good kebab and his place had the best ones in the world. The boys thought his act was funny so now Michael wants to get one of his kebabs. The guy says that Michael should eat it first and if he didn't like it he didn't have to pay. We paid anyway as we were planning to eat at the hotel. We make it back with our two kebabs and enjoy a good time eating, drinking some wine (not the boys silly) and playing card with our official San Marino deck of cards.
Maria Dolea's stand outside Palazzo Pitti
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!