Treasure hunting in Florence

Clet Abraham Florence- Italy from the Inside

Photo by Francesca Tosolini

One summer day, I was happily walking on the streets of Florence with my son Alessio, who was 10 at that time, when he suddenly yelled “Mom, look!”, while pointing at the same time to a no-entry road sign on which someone had drawn a black pooping pigeon. We laughed, took a photo and moved on, thinking it was a funny joke. However, a few minutes later we saw another sign that had been modified, and then another one, and another one. At that point, our simple tourist walk became an exciting treasure hunt and, at the end of the day, we were able to find more than twenty crazy, hilarious and creative road signs. I later learned that they all come from the artistic mind of Clet Abraham, a French artist who has been living in Italy for the past twenty years. The next time you go to Florence, look around and, I can assure you, you will have a lot of fun, with or without kids!

{On chapter 2 “Driving in Italy” of the eBook “Italy from the Inside. A native Italian reveals the secrets of traveling in Italy” you can see many more signs by French artist Clet Abraham}

Coffee to go in Italy

Coffee to go in Italy- Italy from the Inside

Photo by Francesca Tosolini

Italians don’t bring their coffee wherever they go and the big insulated travel mugs, that are so popular in the States, are definitely not a part of the Italian culture. However, sometimes you may see some people ordering their coffee at the bar and then taking it away. When that happens, it comes in this size.

{This is an excerpt from chapter 4 “Gelaterie and coffee houses” of the eBook “Italy from the Inside. A native Italian reveals the secrets of traveling in Italy”}

Buying a train ticket in Italy: the train ticket office

Buying a train ticket in Italy- Italy from the Inside

Photo by Francesca Tosolini

The Italian train system is very efficient and convenient if you have to cover long distances. In Italy, trains are very popular in everyday life. They are a common means of transportation for commuters, students, businessmen, etc. Taking the train in Italy can definitely get you closer to the Italian culture.
The primary train operator in Italy is Trenitalia.
A train ticket can be purchased at several locations, but, usually, the train station ticket office (biglietteria) is the place people prefer.

It’s very important that you have a clear idea of the kind of ticket (biglietto) you want to buy (comprare). It may be a good idea to write the trip plan on a piece of paper (pezzo di carta) to show to the clerk, in case the language barrier makes the process too difficult. Keep in mind that most clerks speak only very basic English, so a note showing information such as the city or town of departure, the city or town of arrival, the date (data) and the time (ora) of departure and the number of people traveling in your party would be helpful. Another good idea is to have a map showing where you have to go and just pointing to the locations you want to travel to.

If you are in a hurry, look for the Fast Ticket Window (Sportello Veloce). This is an option that may be very useful if you are just about to catch your train, but you still haven’t purchased your ticket. The Sportello Veloce ticket window is reserved for passengers whose train leaves within 15 minutes. I was one of those passengers once… My adrenaline was already going up when I saw this ticket window and literally ran to it. Fortunately, there were only two people in front of me. It wouldn’t have been my dream to spend two hours waiting at the Naples train station… Right now this service is available only in major train stations.

Oh, and in case you wonder, credit cards are accepted.

The ticket office is usually open from 6am to 9pm (in the major train stations), so buy your ticket the day before in case you have to catch an early train (and in case you wonder, yes, you can find many people waiting in line even at 6am…). Ticket office hours are listed on the Trenitalia’s website (choose a region and then click on the “Servizi in stazione- Biglietterie” link). ***

{This is an excerpt from chapter 1 “General transportation” of the eBook “Italy from the Inside. A native Italian reveals the secrets of traveling in Italy”}