We Have Arrived In Florence!

We spent two nights (and a full day) in Paris which was nice, but damned cold - in fact, Lyn & I cannot remember when we were colder. The weather was OK, but grey and a bit misty, however the cold just cut through like a knife.
We decided to do a city tour on the Big Red Bus ( I think every European city has one) and it was good to get an overview of the place. We saw all the usual tourist sights before doing another half circuit, getting off at the Notre dame cathedral. That place is amazing and we wandered around for ages taking it all in before bailing out into the nearest cafe to try and warm up!


The next day, we caught the TGV train to Zurich (high-speed, super smooth and very comfortable).
We think that our timing was pretty good as the 12 journalists in Paris were shot that morning, a police woman was shot the next day and today we hear that a whole lot of hostages had been taken in  the Jewish quarter of Paris.
That place will be just about in total lock-down, I reckon, and travel will be totally nuts!

We got into Zurich about 3:00pm and only had to walk 5 minutes to our hotel in the old part of the city.
After a good walk around town as the sun went down (and Lyn buying me a set of gloves keep the cold out), we had dinner at a local brasserie where we had some good Swiss cuisine and I had a few local ales (very nice too!).
Zurich is a very modern looking city with a really nice feel - everyone seems very contented and it is very lively.
It is also pretty damned expensive - AU$100 for dinner in a "pub-type" atmosphere!
Even a coffee and a hot chocolate cost AU$20!!

The following day, Thursday, we left for Florence on the train, travelling through some pretty spectacular scenery in the Swiss/Italian Alps.


We then went through the St Gottard tunnel and on to Milan were we changed trains to travel on to Florence.
We got to the apartment and met the agent who was handling the lease contract, signing all the necessary paperwork and then settling down.
We rearranged the apartment a bit to put our own touches on it and we are pretty happy with the result. We have plenty of room to move and although, storage is a premium, it is nice to have a nice spacious, quiet apartment.

After our efforts, we walked about 100 metres to a really nice small restaurant for dinner - a simple pasta never tasted so good.
I made my first language mistake of the year - asking for "quattro di litro" of red wine (4 litres!), rather than un quarto (1/4)! The "cameriere" (waiter) knew exactly what I had said, gave me a very surprised look and then laughed - I think I made my first Florentine friend!

The next day (Friday), we walked into Florence central to get the forms to apply for a permit to live in Florence (permesso di soggiorno). We got our first taste of Italian bureaucracy, having to take a ticket in the Post Office and wait for about an hour, just to be given a set of forms each (no questions asked), to be taken away and filled in (there is a lot of detail). We then have to go back, get another number and wait to give them the forms. They will then contact us with an appointment time so that we can go in and finalise the paperwork!!!

As of tonight, we have sorted the apartment, got the paperwork to live here, got new SIMs for the phones so we have Italian phone numbers, done the shopping and I have been to talk to a language school just around the corner from us - it is all coming together!


  1. Pics are fantastic and I'm so glad that you got out of Paris before the crazy set in. We stayed at a Best Western in Z├╝rich which was a 5 min walk from the station. Switzerland is very $$$. The apartment in Florence looks great - can't wait to visit! I'm surprised that you have to apply to live there but it sounds similar to what I've read about Venice so maybe it's an Italian thing? A throwback to feudal times? Anyway, are you telling me that you couldn't drink 4L of wine? LOL!
    We recommend these places that we've visited,
    Milan Cathedral and La Scala of course,
    Lago Maggiore is about 1h train ride or less from Milan. We were in the town of Baveno but the town of Stresa is the touristic place. You can stay in one and take ferries across the lake to the others. There is also a monastery there that is built into a hill - gorgeous. The Lake has beautiful islands with grand houses and gardens - Bella Isolas.
    Rome, of course!
    Enjoy your new lives - fantastic! Hugs, M & V.

  2. Hi Lyn and Guy, Its been great following your adventure, we just found out that Adrian had left Florence about the same time you arrived. I liked the photos they really capture the cold. Thanks for the warning about the large suitcases and train travel. You have inspired me to lift my game in doing Italian. Thinking of you both. Eddie

  3. The Paris attacks were terrible. Glad you were already on your way. Switzerland is really expensive for travelling. We stayed with some friends there which made it affordable. Great photos, looking forward to seeing more. It should be a great experience living right in Florence. I reckon a motorbike is a great idea but you would need to take care. I guess the buses will be OK once you get the hang of the system. Love the toaster.