Friday was my departure day and I already had a prepaid train ticket from Fiesole/Caldine through Florence and on to Milan. But that wasn’t until the afternoon, so we decided to take the rental car out onto some of the small roads above Fiesole and into the hills beyond.
Augie expertly navigated the Audi while Teresa and I requested multiple photo-op stops as we cruised the beautiful countryside and could still see Florence off in the distance.
We had lunch in Fiesole on the way back, and then I prepared to make my departure.
The train I was to take was the same train we had been using to get in and out of Florence, without a hitch, for the past few days. But today, the day I needed to make a connection, the train didn’t show up for the 2:55 departure. No amount of coercion or button pushing would produce a ticket from the machine using the code on my paperwork, but I was going to board the train regardless. (I thought I had learned this lesson last year and swore to never buy a prepaid train ticket on TrenItalia again. This time I mean it. The machines just will not dispense prepaid tickets and I tried every code on my printout). A local Italian man at the station translated the announcement that the train would be 20 minutes late. Twenty minutes later another announcement told of the train’s cancellation, due to a regional labor strike.
I now had 35 minutes until my Florence to Milan train. We threw my bags into the rental car and sped into Florence, only to be met by stop and go traffic the closer we got to the train station. We pulled up at 3:55, just in time for my 4 pm train. In my rush to make the train, I mistakenly read the platform number for the arrival train from Milan, not the departing train. Happily ensconced in business class as the train pulled out, our southerly heading began to concern me. I then watched the monitor and realized I was headed to Rome. Luckily, I had boarded the high-speed train and we were in Rome by 530 pm. The station this high-speed train pulled into was not the Rome Centrale, but the newly renovated Roma Tiburtina, east of town and north of the Roma Termini Station. It was a very well-organized, clean station with shops and gelato stands. So I had a gelato, bought a 630 pm ticket back to Milan and chocked it up to experience. The train travel wasn’t bad, but it did cost me. I had to buy the ticket from Florence to Rome (93 euros) and then another ticket from Rome to Milan, stopping back in Florence, for 86 euros. They would not credit me my prepaid ticket, saying it was my own fault. That was a point I could not argue. My little mistake cost me $200, plus the gelato. I could have had 10 purses or a nice pair of shoes for that!
I finally arrived into Milan at nearly 10 pm, and purchased another ticket from the Milan Centrale on the Malpensa Express and made it to the airport at 1120 pm. I will in the future be especially observant when it comes to platform numbers and the arriving and departing trains.