2014-12-07 09.47.35

The hotels in Italia are obligated to collect a tax per person per night. It was €4.5 per night in Venezia and €3 in Firenze. The hotels insist on collecting this tax only in cash. Using a credit card is surprisingly rare in this country. Whereas in the United States, I use plastic even for small purchases, if only to avoid the use of paper bills and change. Here, everyone carries an inordinate amount of coins, which is noticeable when one is standing in a checkout line at a grocery store.

2014-12-07 09.39.30

 

The last day, I took my first public bus in Firenze. It was supposed to be €1.2, which I was prepared to pay, but due to my confusion, I ended up getting on the bus and then not paying for it. I took the bus to Piazzale Michelangelo, which every visitor should do. It offers a panoramic view of Firenze, although the various tower climbs also offer these vantage points. From Piazzale Michelangelo, I walked 400 meters to the Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte, where I stumbled upon monks doing their thing and listening to Gregorian chants for the first time. These monks practice monastic silence, so they don’t speak, an exercise of extreme discipline. They sing wonderfully though, although I cannot understand any of the Latin lyrics. Many non-monks would also benefit from monastic silence.

On the first Sunday of each month, many attractions have free admission, which produces long queues. On balance, it is a good thing, although I think there should have been an option for no queue if one was willing to pay the regular fee. Then, one could actually determine who valued their time at a specific amount. I ended up seeing €20 of attractions for free, including the Palazzo Pitti and the associated Giardini di Boboli and Galleria Palatina. The Giardini di Boboli (€7 normally) is attractive but not worth most people’s time and money. The Galleria Palatina has awesome works by Raphael and Peter Paul Rubens and is worth its admission fee.

2014-12-07 09.38.51

 

To leave Firenze, I took a bus to Siena. It is wise to scout out ticketing information and the station location before the day of departure, which I did. Once I found the station, I asked to purchase a ticket for the following day, and the agent refused me, saying I had to purchase on the day of, which I found curious. At least I could use my credit card to pay the €7.8 fare.

 

2014-12-07 11.42.48

Mushrooms at Giardini di Boboli