Our agony and ecstasy in Florence



Our experience of agony and ecstasy in Florence

We ran like hell, our backpacks bobbing, frantically wheeling our strolleys, but alas! we watched the train moving away, just as we reached the platform.

“There goes our 60 Euros! and my planned itinerary”, I cursed myself.

What really rankled was the fact, that we were not late in reaching the Station, infact we were there at least an hour before the train’s departure, but still we missed it!

That is how the Florence leg of our our Italian sojourn had started. But let me start from the beginning which should explain the predicament that we were in.

We were on a short trip to Italy and our itinerary was packed with an intention of optimizing our time. We had spent two wonderful days in Rome and were now looking forward to a couple of days in beautiful Florence.

At 5 in the morning, darkness enveloped the eternal city of Rome as we walked a couple of kilometers to catch an early morning bus that would take us to the Termini Railway Station.

A chill wind assailed us as we huddled together in the Bus Shelter, peering out in the darkness to look out for the lights of the approaching bus. Things went off without a hitch, the bus was on time and we were deposited at Termini almost a couple of hours before our train to Florence was scheduled to depart. I felt happy that everything was going as planned, we were well in time for the train, we had reservations for the 7 am Trenitalia train and we would be in Florence by 8.30 to embark on yet another voyage of discovery.


We entered the main concourse of the station, and at the early hour there was not much activity. We looked for the platform on which our train would be arriving on the LED screens, but it was too early and our train was not showing up on the screen. The inquiry counters also were not yer open. So we settled down on the available chairs to wait for some time before the information about our train became available, after all we still had more than 90 minutes for the train’s departure. At this juncture we were approached by a friendly looking gentleman who asked us if we needed any help in getting tickets, we politely declined and indicated that we had booked out seats online. The helpful gentleman took the ticket from me and after glancing at it, waved his hand towards the far distance and said that our train would leave from Platform No. 11 or some thing like that. We thanked him, but held our ground in the main concourse. I thought it better to confirm from the LED screens once the information was flashed before we made our move.

60 minutes left for our train to depart and we still held our position in the main concourse, eyes riveted on the LED screen. It was still dark outside and strangely the concourse was relatively empty. That is when our friendly gentleman makes an appearance again and seeing us, waves frantically, asking us to quickly head towards the platform 11 as the train will depart from there. Now throwing caution to the winds, we followed the direction of his waving hand and walked a good 5 minutes to reach a platform which was near the fag end of the station. We found a bench and sat down thankfully. A solitary lady in black stood on the platform and on being questioned, she indicated that the train to Florence would depart from this platform.

15 minutes left for the train to depart and there was no sign of it! We looked at each other and I decided to head back to the main concourse to double check. But it was easier said than done. There was another gentleman who was sitting on a bench, who literally blocked my path with his burly body, insisting that the the train would arrive at the platform we were on, only. But somehow I managed to escape his eye, and leaving the wife with the luggage, ran towards the main concourse. I found our train standing on one of the main platforms, ready to depart. I checked with someone on the platform, who looked at the ticket I thrust at him and confirmed, that this indeed was the train on which we were booked.

The train would leave in another 2 minutes!

It had taken me 4 minutes to reach the platform on which our train was to depart, now I had 2 minutes to get back to where my wife waited with the luggage and then head back to catch the train. It appeared to be a hopeless task.

But not one to give up without a try, I sprinted back and ran like hell!

You already know what happened next. We missed the train.

In a sombre mood, cursing and blaming each other as only a husband and wife can do, we brought fresh tickets and took another train after 30 minutes to Florence. The beautiful countryside flashed past us but we glared at each other in silence. I hoped that by the time we reached Florence, our mood would have lifted, little realizing what fate had planned for us.


We reached Florence and emerged from the station. The couple of hours in the train seemed to have calmed my mind as we headed out in search of our hotel. We were looking forward to a couple of hours of rest in a comfortable bed before heading out to explore Florence in the afternoon. We were rearing to visit the Historic Centre of Florence, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

I felt confident as my ‘online research’, indicated that our hotel was just a couple of minute’s walk from the station.

“I will get the exact location”, I told my wife as I disappeared into the Information Office located in Station square. I waited my turn in the queue before a smiling face greeted me, I thrust the hotel booking confirmation voucher through the opening in the glass and inquired about the whereabouts of the hotel. She smiling confirmed that it was just a couple of blocks away and easily reachable. I went back to my wife and were off to the cozy confines of a comfortable hotel room, or so we thought.


We were going round and round in circles, the rain which had started pouring down did not make matters any better. We must have visited at least a dozen or so hotels, but none was the one that we were booked into. Where had the hotel disappeared, we wondered. We went back to the Information Center, and this time I talked to another smiling face, but the result was the same. I came back and told my wife, it must be here somewhere, we just missed it! And off we went on another wild goose chase. Our phones did not work as we did not have roaming activated. I did try calling the hotel on one of the Public Phones, but could not get through. It was afternoon and we went back a third time to the Information Center. This time my wife gave me a look that could kill and went to inquire again. I waited sheepishly in the hall.

“This hotel is not in Florence!” was the earth-shattering statement from my wife as she returned from the counter.

It turned out that the hotel was actually in Signa which was a 15-minute train journey away from Florence and this was confirmed by a phone call made by the smiling face to the hotel.

So here we were in Florence, without a hotel, it was afternoon and we had some online bookings to visit the Accademia, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Florence Duomo.


We did not have time to travel to Signa and come back. We dumped our luggage in the Left Luggage counter in the station and after grabbing a quick meal of French Fries were off to visit the Accademia and the Uffizi.





The agony of the morning quickly transformed into ecstasy as we stood before Michael Angelo’s signature masterpiece, ‘David’ and looked up at the master’s labor of love. The detail of the sculpture smote our hearts and the hair on my arms stood on end as i watched in awe the thickened veins of David’s arms, readying for battle.


The trials and tribulations of the morning seemed far, far away as we reveled in the beauty of Florence and the artistic grandeur of the Masters who walked the city in years gone by.


It must have been around 9 in the night when our train pulled into Signa Station. We got down on the platform, and as looked to my right, a glowing signboard, just next to the station, proclaimed HOTEL EUROPA.

Both our hearts soared with exhilaration as if those two words were our gateway to heaven and two tired and exhausted bodies made their way to the hotel, a hotel that they had been searching for in a different place!



Do check out our other articles on Italy:

Fascinating Fiesole

A Day Trip to The Leaning Tower Pisa


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91 thoughts on “Our agony and ecstasy in Florence”

  1. I’m sorry, I perfectly understand who are these “gentlemen” your talking about…
    I’m glad at least everything turned to ecstasy once in Florence!

  2. Ah I love Florence! We also had a couple of problems with the train from Rome to Florence, but not as many as you!! At least you still got to enjoy some of the city – and have a good excuse to go back 🙂

  3. Oh no — wow! I am planning a Rome to Florence venture in November and you have me nervous lol but it looks like it all worked out! I can’t wait to visit Italy!

  4. What an adventure, glad it all worked out in the end! Missing trains, hotels in the wrong city..yikes! Florence is just gorgeous, glad you got to enjoy it!

  5. Missing trains, especially when you’ve been organised enough to arrive at the station ahead of time, has to be one of the most frustrating travel experiences you can undergo. But Florence is the ultimate pick me up, that’s for sure 🙂

  6. So sorry you missed your train, I’ve had similar experiences in Madrid. You just have to roll with the punches, right? So glad you made it to Florence and got to see the masterpieces there. What else did you get to see and do in Florence?

  7. Ah, travel can be an adventure and it is great to document the good and the bad!

    I’m so glad you still took some highlights from the experience, despite the missed train… the rain… and the hotel in a different town!

  8. Sounds so frustrating!! I can totally relate, having had travel days like these!! But I’m glad you got to the gallery to see David in the end. It’s such a magnificent work of art!

  9. Wait, so why would those people tell you to go the other platform? To make sure you buy new tickets??? You should have looked for them and give them a piece of your mind. I hate it when they try to scam tourists like this because you aren’t just taking money, you’re ruining their time and committments. But at the end it seems like it worked out well. Misadventures are part of an experience, right? no good story is ever “we had an awesome time”.

  10. wow! what a story. We were super worried about missing our trains when planning our Europe trip since we will be accompanied by our little one who often turns our schedules upside down. So, we are finally planning to take a eurorail pass. BTW – special like to “In a somber mood, cursing and blaming each other as only a husband and wife can do..” 🙂 being a couple, can totally relate

  11. Wow – what a nightmare! Glad it all turned out okay in the end, isn’t the Uffuzi Gallery so incredible? I love the corner that has a view over the Ponte Vecchio.

  12. That shot of the bridge is stunning! (Pinned it!) Sorry for all your struggles, but it must have been worth it to see David. Here’s to more successful train exchanges in the future. 🙂

  13. I love the narrative approach of this. It was really exciting in the beginning and I was totally on the edge of my seat, cheering for you guys to make the train! I’m glad you eventually got to Florence and the beautiful city definitely made it worthwhile.

  14. I can imagine, despite being there early, the short window of getting to your assigned train car with all the luggage is enough to really miss it. It’s frustrating. I remember how busy it was, waiting with colleagues at the train station during a business trip on the way to Florence. This lovely city is so worth it! I enjoyed reading your travel experience.

  15. I’m a bit confused about those two guys. Were they thugs that were trying to scam you? It sounds like they were trying to get you to miss the train then they would take you to a hotel and fleece you. One does have to be careful when travelling..but it’s all part of the experience.

  16. Goodness, that sounds like an exhausting day!! How did you like Florence? I thought it was okay, but definitely not my favorite place in Italy… If you’re still there you have to visit Assisi! It’s absolutely stunning!

  17. Ah travel woes… I find when something goes wrong the stress is tripled because we’re not in familiar territory. On the bright side, it’s awesome you still had time to check out part of the city! There’s always next time to see and do more 🙂

  18. O no! What a disaster! Your pictures are beautiful at least! i would recommend checking out an app called Here maps. It works ofline and just with your phone GPS so you do not get any extra charges. You can also set it up online and save addresses before you even leave! It makes it super easy to navigate anywhere!

  19. Oh dear! It sounds like you were having one of THOSE days! I hope your visit to Florence made up for the hassle in the end. Your pictures are great so I think it probably did! Such bad luck to miss a train and struggle to find the hotel on the same day.

  20. Oh no! I’m sorry you had to go through all of that! Such bad luck! But it’s cheering to see how you rallied on and got to experience some of the joys of the city anyway. And thank you for sharing your pics of The David and the other masterpieces. So gorgeous, and something I want to see soon.

  21. Omg! I would have been so upset about the train situation! To wait that long and then be told that you were in the wrong place when you were in fact in THE right place. Then the situation about the hotel would have made me even more exhausted with the rain pouring down. I think I would have needed more than just fries to fill me up tho 🙂 I was thinking please don’t let it get any worse for them! I was glad to read that there weren’t any more mishaps and that Florence was amazing 🙂

  22. My husband and I had a very similar experience while traveling by train around Italy. Not knowing the platforms until the last minute was always so stressful especially since we had such large backpacks. I also misplaced our tickets once. Sounds like you were able to make the most of your visit though even with the slight delays. Florence is so lovely.

  23. These type of stories always feel like the worst kind of disaster at the time. Thankfully however, they only get better with time. I’ve missed countless trains in my time and while I spend about half an hour fuming with myself after I’ve done so, after a shower, sleep and almost always a beer, I always learn to shrug it off. And then, with more time, it just becomes all the more funny. At least you found yourself stranded in a city as beautiful as Florence however!

  24. I can totally relate to this kind of misadventure. We have had our share of several while travelling. While going through this kind of fiasco, it seems like the worst time ever, but does make a great incident to share over dinner with friends, doesn’t it?

  25. What a story! It sounded extremely tiring, and I don’t know how I would react if I found out my travel partner has booked a hotel in another city! At least it all worked out and you managed to gaze in awe at ‘David’ 🙂

  26. I have been travelling here and there a lot since last year. Each trip is filled with good and bad memories. Not every place has left memories of a great trip and not every trip has been stre free and amazing. But in the highs and lows of these experiences I have emerged as a better and adaptable traveller. I think these experiences are part fo travelling and we should imbibe the lessons learnt from them and move on. PS Loved your photographs of Florence. Hope I get to see it soon.

  27. Your article reminds me of my train adventures in Italy, this time from Florence to Rome. I bought a ticket, went to the right platform, got on the train, only for some people to start talking in Italian that the train is broken and another train will replace it. Luckily I speak Italian, I told to myself. I got off and jumped on another train nearby, but surprise, this train wasn’t leaving either, and I had to go back to the initial train. In the middle of the journey, somewhere in the Italian countryside, the train stopped and I had to change again. It was quite an adventure but oh well, that’s Italy! Chaotic 🙂

  28. What a frustrating experience. Travel can really throw some serious curve balls, but it seems that you handled it as well as could be! Florence is such a beautiful city, and the artwork is really extraordinary!

  29. Thanks for sharing your story how travel can have their hiccups. I agree Termini Station has many odd souls wandering around, not the best first impression. I remember feeling unsafe there. However, Florence is such a gorgeous place and one of my favourite Italian cities. So smart of you to get your tix to the galleries in advance!

  30. My goodness, I am not sure how I could have handled one such situation that can frustrate you so easily. Sounds like a great adventure to experience on our journey. Florence looks amazing and I am in love with those beautiful pictures!

  31. Ahh.. that sounds frustrating, being there right on time, waiting in the dark and chilly morning and then missing the train for no fault of your own. But good to know that amazing city of Florence and its art treasure made up for your mood. We have been to Florence and it definitely is treasure trove for art lovers.

  32. Sorry to hear that you both had to face all this! The similar thing happened to me on my trip to Niagara Falls. At around 11:30 PM, we landed at Buffalo International Airport and rented a car. My husband asked me to navigate to our hotel via Google Maps. After around 2 hours, we were standing in front of the Rainbow Bridge, that connects the United States and Canada. At that time, we realized that Google navigated to the same hotel in Ontario, Canada. However, the hotel that we booked online was just 40 minutes drive from the airport. Well, rest is history but these kinds of circumstances make the trip more memorable at times…lol!

  33. Florence looks gorgeous and I can’t wait to visit! These sculptures and architectures are so beautiful. I am sure that all the trouble is well well worth it at the end when you are there. And the more you travel the more things like this happen. We just learn to deal with the difficulties with planes and trains a bit easier.

  34. Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear about your misadventures! I felt your agony as we also had a few misadventures happening to us in Italy but just like with your experiences, we focused our attention on the beauty that was around us (in our case Venice) and then everything worked out perfectly again! It is part of travel (and life in generally), sometimes things doesn’t always go as we plan them to, but when we decide not to let ourselves be affected by it too much and instead focus on the good, everything always works out well!

  35. Ah Italy. My husband and I had a lot of misfortunes there too. Sprained ankle on top of Vesuvius and also about 60 euros lost by making a mistake booking a rental house with a ridiculous cleaning fee. It’s great that you didn’t let the bad stop you from having fun and enjoying the trip to it’s fullest! Florence sounds beautiful – thanks for the photos and article!

  36. I am wondering what did they gain? Truly sorry for such a nasty experience. And the hotel?
    Looks like your adventures begin even before the actual journey.
    I had something similar in Bangkok but the tuk tuk driver did benefit out of us.

  37. This article made me laugh so hard (while feeling sorry for you, of course 😉 ). It reminds me of some of my travel experiences where everything goes wrong that could possibly go wrong. While these days are stressful, exhausting and just a pain at the moment, they make for the best stories and some of the best memories. I hope you enjoyed Florence all the same, it’s such a pretty city!

  38. What an ordeal! At first I thought this was going to be how you were disappointed with Florence but seems like you rather enjoyed it. I, on the other hand, have been twice and don’t care to return. Other than David, Ponte Vecchio, and the Duomo, Florence did nothing for me.

  39. Oh goodness me! What an awful start. And I could clobber both the people at the station and Florence’s info centre for misleading you. It does make a great read though! Florence is a wonderful city and you’ve some cracking photos here.

  40. Wow that wasn’t the best start! Glad to see that at the end it was well worth it the initial hassle. I was in Florence myself a couple of years ago and I couldn’t believe how beautiful this city is. If you visit again, you can’t miss the view from Piazzale Michelangelo, it’s just breathtaking!

  41. I hate it when people mis-direct you with so much confidence? Anyway, glad to know that you managed to enjoy hour time in Florence nonetheless! It is indeed one of the greatest cities in the world!

  42. Don’t you just love the Italian way of life and how they run things? I was there two weeks ago but I was driven around by my friends who lived there. I did catch the train to the airport on my own though and it was an interesting experience. Glad you final got to Florence in the end.

  43. that was a roller coaster ride,never thought Rome to Florence will have issues like that. Oh well, this is a good adventure, to be honest. 🙂 I wonder when I visit Italy if I will take the same route.

  44. I remember Florence as being very picturesque when I visited in 200 and it doesn’t look like it has changed once bit! the photos brought back some great memories! thanks for sharing!

  45. Ahhhh we all have travel mishaps and missing the bus/train or booking tickets for the wrong day happens to even the best of us. Florence’s art looks beautiful and I can’t wait to check it out for myself in November!

  46. I genuinely hated Florence. It may be because I tried to see Florence and Pisa on the same day – but it was just a let down. I should give it another shot.

  47. That’s some serious hassle you had there. As they say, when it rains it pours. But you’ve been saved by the David. Looks like the statue really helped turn your day around. I’d love to go to Florence too someday.

  48. Ouch! I’m glad everything worked out in the end. I’ve been in the same situation with my boyfriend. We were lost in Rome and couldn’t find the place, we took a train to Venice and missed our connection. Italy is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion they should make their transportation system a bit better. Since we pay tourist fee anyway 😀

  49. OMG I would have cried when I found out the hotel was not in Florence and I was just looking forward to collapsing in my room. And, then it started raining. You and your wife handled it well!

  50. I understand how situations like being left on the train can seem very frustrating especially when you’re in another country and how this can start a blame game. It’s a good thing you two made it past the ordeal. Haven’t visited Florence yet but it looks lovely! 🙂

  51. Somethings are meant to happen. When they pass and we take a look at them after few years they turn out to be our most cherished memories. I think this will be the same for you. I too felt experiencing it while I was reading it.

  52. Wow! That must have been a nerve wrecking experience! I did have the same experience a few weeks ago in Paris, and it was just as frustrating as what you have been through. I’m glad you get to enjoy a little bit of Florence though, despite missing the train and getting lost 🙂 Cheers!

  53. Oh no. It sounds just like me that you have wasted so much money on that train. I have found trains in Italy very confusing and so very expensive. However I am glad you still managed to get to Florence.
    I was in Florence last year and 7 years ago. I love the city. So beautiful and so much to see. I think you did the right thing of leaving your bags to explore instead of going to and from your hotel.
    A great read. I felt like I was experiencing the train station with you.

  54. I hate that your trip started with the agony of missing a train. I totally understand the blame-game that is marriage. You’re right, only husbands and wives can do it that way. It looks like you were able to visit two amazing Museums. The Ufizzi is one of my favorite museums I’ve ever visited!

  55. It’s certainly exciting arriving in another country, not knowing the language, not being familiar with how things are going. However, I’m irritated that this can still happen today with the internet and google maps etc. Since I tend to over prepare and organize my trips, I always know beforehand where I need to go; but of course this way travelling loses the charm of the unexpected – that you had a good share from 😉

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