Tuscany 2013 - 2: Buon Giorno, Firenze! (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous trip report part:
Tuscany 2013 - 1: Verso l'Italia! (50 p.)

The itinerary for this part:
Sat, April 13 2013

Vienna Meidling dep 19:30  EN 235 "Allegro Tosca" -> Roma Termini ÖBB 1116 / ... / FS E402A

	Wr.Neustadt Hbf		19:54	  	 19:56
	Bruck/Mur		21:23	  	 21:25
	Leoben Hbf		21:38	  	 21:40
	Knittelfeld		22:01	  	 22:03
	Friesach in Ktn		22:58	  	 22:59
	Klagenfurt Hbf		23:35	  	 23:38	  	  	  

Sun, April 14 2013

        Villach Hbf		00:01	  	 00:06
	Tarvisio Boscoverde	00:29	  	 00:41	  	  	  
	Venezia Mestre		02:56	  	 03:11	  	  	  
	Ferrara			04:18	  	 04:19	  	  	  
	Bologna Centrale	04:48	  	 05:15

Firenze SMN arr 6:18

Now we are beginning our actual journey:

At the start of the year plans for my trip through Tuscany slowly took shape. In my childhood I had visited most of it, also travelled a lot by train throughout the region, but I had never taken lineside pictures in the area. By chance I found another incentive around which I could schedule my itinerary - more about it later. I searched various web pages for spots to visit and used online maps and timetables to plan single days of the trip. I was a little flexible as I was not required to be at a certain spot every day. Trenitalia timetable proved to be quite usable, the app also worked well. I only used ÖBB-Hafas sporadically for station departure tables. However, already on the first day I encountered a train which did not show up on Hafas, but at the Trenitalia site. From that point I was more careful and mainly utilized the Italian tool.

April 13 2013

After a lot of stress the weeks before, winter weather until the start of April and accompanying illnesses I could not wait to finally reach more southerly realms. Having an important appointment still on Friday at noon I only managed to pack my bag shortly before departure. Since I live in walking distance to Vienna Meidling for some time now, everything still proved to be relaxed, that way you save departure stress. Shortly before 7 p.m. I took a bus of line 9A which slowly winds its way through my district but provides comfortable door-to-station-service in under ten minutes. As luggage I used a bag with wheels, usually I travel with backbag. But since I had booked one hotel for the whole week, I prefered the more civilized solution this time.
I had managed to acquire a SparNight-ticket (early booking saver fare) to Florence for EuroNight 235 towards Rome Termini station, departure from Vienna at 7:30 p.m. - unchanged for many years now. It was indicated on platform 5, already many people had gathered there. First I checked the position of coaches and noticed that the part to Milan was the first behind the loco, so I moved to a rear sector. At 19:15 ÖBB 1116.042 pulled the train into the station, coming from Matzleinsdorf stabling yard - hopefully the last time for a week I would see a Taurus-class loco! One or more Italian school classes immediately stormed into the coaches, other passengers included tourists from all over the globe - overall the train was very well used. I had a reservation in a six-berth-couchette-compartment and made it there first, settling on my upper berth, currently on the wall against the direction of travelling. The position was convenient for me, as I could place my bag on the rack right behind me and could control all valuable equipment. My neighbours turned out to be travellers from the Czech Republic as well as an Asian pair. I lied down right away, as every minute of rest was precious for the coming days. Soon after departure the the coach attendant came by to collect tickets and quickly check travel documents. One of the fellow travellers asked when we would arrive at Florence. I answered from above but was not heard, the conductor had to look it up tediously in his booklet - then left and had forgot me! Only after he was called back by the other passengers he also took my ticket. The rest of the evening passed by without further incidents, the school children also were not too loud, although of course they stayed up late. In my compartment light was dimmed at Bruck an der Mur and the small trap window opened shortly. Luckily the A/C did not run in freezing mode - that way it could have spoilt my whole holiday if I had caught a cold. But lastly the air outside, especially at night in mountainous areas, was too cool and we had to close the window.
The only irregularity known in advance was a stop at Klagenfurt prolonged by seven minutes due to maintenance work along the Lake Wörthersee shore line. But this could not scare me concerning further planning that day, especially since the train was known for occasional excessive delays upon arrival in Vienna. I was surprised that many passengers seemed to know about the stop as they flocked out onto the platform for a smoking break. The train continued according to the construction schedule, soon after leaving Klagenfurt maintenance vehicles flashed past the window.

April 14 2013

Afterwards quiet came, only at the last Austrian station Villach a group moved into a neighbouring compartment. The Italian border station Tarvisio was reached 10 minutes delayed, this was kept until Venice. Suddenly radio communications could be heard from the aisle outside, maybe border controls despite the Schengen agreement? However, the train started moving again and nobody approached the compartments. We also stopped at stations like Udine although they were no scheduled halts. Now I found out why radio devices were in use: the female ÖBB guard was asking at each station via radio whether all doors were closed, the coach attendants answered: "Coach xxx - doors locked!". Still, it never went completely smoothly... also an art. After another stop at Rovigo we arrived at Venice Mestre station, where the coaches to Milan were uncoupled and about to continue as EuroNight 480 three hours later. For us a 30 minutes stop was scheduled, enough to get rid of the delay. We quickly crossed the Po River plains and reached Bologna after a few further stations. Here our train was merged with CityNightLine 485 "Lupus" Munich - Rome, of course this was also noticeable by the added German dialects on radio. I was surprised by the large number of passengers getting off at Bologna despite the early hour. Oh well, good connections from Vienna by day had been successfully eradicated.
Now it was not far to Florence, once departed from Bologna I looked around the coach and moved into a compartment that just had become empty to have more space for preparing myself, eating breakfast and looking out of the window. It did not take long and the conductor was once more looking for me. I caught up with him in front of my original compartment taking over the compulsory EuroNight breakfast and my ticket. I had ordered tea which was accompanied by a fairly large croissant, a loaf of bread, butter and jam. Sadly all imported, so no proper Italien breakfast to kick off my journey. In my new compartment I dimmed the lights and watched places I was about to visit that day pass by. Also, a local train of EMU class ALn 642 - one of those rectangular shaped things... My EuroNight ran on the old Direttissima Bologna - Firenze via Prato, travel time about an hour. Since 2009 a new high speed line through the Apennine Mountains is open, shortening the trip to 37 minutes.
Soon the first outskirts of Florence announced themselves, this was often the first impression of holidays with my parents, too: Florence in the morning, around Easter frequently on the night of change to daylight savings time. Past Firenze Rifredi we entered Firenze Santa Maria Novella terminal - even one or two minutes early - simultaneously with a local train, sometimes on the neighbouring track.

E402A 045 had hauled my train to Florence. In front of me a few lightly-clothed youngsters in white emerged from the coaches, but they suffered a small shock due to low early temperatures. In the morning you always needed a jacket, a few hours later the thermometer could climb by 15-20 degrees in the shade. Later that week temperatures certainly reached at least 30 degrees in the sun.

Sadly Italien railways also are slowly taking over the annoying custom of announcing platforms only shortly before departure. Luckily good old timetables on paper still exist everywhere, most of the platform numbers indicated there are correct, some not.

Santa Maria Novella station, built 1932-34, constitutes an excellent example of Italian Rational Architecture. This architectural style was defined by reduction and abstraction of basic elements as well as use of new materials. Sadly it soon after its inception became the architecture of fascism, due to the circumstances of that period.

I still pulled my bag around, left luggage lockers were nowhere to be found. After some scouting I finally came across a luggage check-in at the outermost platform 16.

Several different classes of driving van trailers are operated by Trenitalia, but regional train electrical locos have been reduced to class E464.

The ticket machines described in the previous report were set up along the bay platforms. I was a little shocked about the partly quite poor people populating the station all the time. Later I bought my first batch of tickets here, as already mentioned you had to enter your credit card PIN for each purchase. Always being approached by someone while trying to key in your numbers covertly in an already exposed setting was not very comfortable.

To the left you can see the screens set up along long distance platforms providing information and advertisements for Trenitalia Eurostars as well as NTV Italos.


Faces of Italian local traffic.

Departure time of the EuroNight was slowly approaching, I took my bag along platform 16 not to wait in line at the luggage deposit. I walked past the railway police, who were in proud possession of two golf carts parked in front of their office. However, always when I changed trains at Florence I noticed them at the same spot.

Like? (Including answer I do not share) ;-)

Parade of signs with old shunting diesel in the background.

View back, the campanile (bell tower) of namegiving church Santa Maria Novella was rising tall above the scenery.

Just as the EuroNight had arrived, it left the station: running parallel to a local train. I already speculated that it would not make it in time, but just as E402B 143 had emerged from behind the platform roof, the class E464 at the rear of the long push-pull train accelerated past me. After its fourth and last shunting manoeuver in Italy (Tarvisio Boscoverde, Venezia Mestre, Bologna Centrale and now Firenze S.M.N.) EuroNight 235 departed at 6:38 with German DB CityNightLine 485 coaches in front on its last leg south to Rome, arrival at Roma Termini around 9:20. Taking a Eurostar leaving twelve minutes later via the high speed line, you could reach Rome as early as 8:30.

Next I deposited my luggage, the minimum charge was five Euros (for five hours). At least everything worked quickly - only the ID had to be copied - and uncomplicated. Subsequently I bought something to drink.

Clash of the modern age.

NTV Italo ticket machine with fitting AGV EMU of the same company in the background. Since the introduction of private passenger rail in Italy every service at even the smallest halt is announced with its company name - even if the vast majority of stations offers 100% Trenitalia operations...

The ticket hall is an architectonic jewel, despite the circumstances of its construction.


The sun was slowly rising and I started a tour through the old city centre, conveniently located right next to the terminal. The basilica of Santa Maria Novella had been errected up to the 14th century. On the square I came across the start of a women's running event that day, on the way I only encountered American girls in sportswear, otherwise the streets still were relatively deserted.

Attention, good news for sinners:
Purgatory is closed all the way from hell, due to water damage! ;-D
Of course the street names originate from Dante's creation.

Only a short walk through Via dei Fossi from Santa Maria Novella, and you already have reached the shores of Arno river. Simply marvelous postcard-weather, and it was about to stay that way for the whole week!

View from bridge Ponte alla Caraia towards San Frediano in Cestello church.


Shadow figure and light statue on the bridge next to Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Santa Trinità.

An Asian bridal pair engaged in power-wedding photography already that early on sunday, the bride had to be hoisted over the railing on the pillar of the bridge.

Panorama with Ponte Vecchio, the couple to the right.

San Jacopo in Soprarno church.

View eastwards, past Ponte Vecchio.

Remains of saturday night partying in front of Ufizi galleries.


The square between the Ufizi is almost never touched by the sun, maybe during summer at noon...
Behind the sculpture of Donatello you can spot Palazzo Vecchio and the dome of the cathedral.

Silhouettes of statues in the Loggia Dei Lanzi.

David, of course only the copy dating from 1910, on Piazza della Signoria.


Florence cathedral - the western facade you see here is a newer work, however, finished in the late 19th century.


Church and bunga bunga...

Back at the station, the only tram line in the city terminates not here, but around the corner, despite of the tracks having been laid further.

At the bay platforms, the architecture was now accentuated by sunlight. A "Vivalto" double decker push-pull set stood ready for departure.

Through a building you can reach tracks 2 and 1, where I was about to depart soon.


InterCity 580 Terni - Milano Centrale entered the station, hauled by E402A 028.

I returned to my previous spot at the end of the station, standing on the short platforms 17 and 18 mainly frequented by DMUs.

Italo 9910 Roma Ostiense - Milano Porta Garibaldi was arriving. Everywhere in the area I noticed "Shiva" graffiti, do not know what that was about... Trains and stations are mostly kept in a clean state, however. Of course you can still find graffiti on rolling stock, but it seemed to me that it had gotten better than a few years ago and that extremely vandalized rakes rarely enter service.

Eurostar 9402 Roma Termini - Venezia Santa Lucia consisting of a class ETR 600 ""Frecciargento" (silver arrow) EMU arriving together with a regional train four minutes early.

IC 580 had now reversed and left the station pulled by E444R 008, this classic electric locomotive class had been constructed in the early seventies as E444 and rebuilt as E444R from the late eighties.

Meanwhile Italo 9907/09 Milan - Salerno arrived on track 13, convenient for me.

A class ALn 501 "Minuetto" DMU showed up on platform 17, destination Borgo San Lorenzo.

My next train ride:

Firenze SMN dep 8:50  R 11709 -> Pontremoli PP

View out of the window of my train on platform 1 towards platform 3.

Shortly before departure an Italian retired couple asked me if the train would go to Pisa. I did one better and looked up the arrival time in the Trainitalia-app. I had purchased a European mobile data package for the week from my provider.

Upon exiting the station, D445 1143 diesel waited to depart with R 11757 to Siena.

More of the skyline was appearing...

And the full Florence-panorama with Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and Santa Maria Novella, a "Frecciarossa" (red arrow) Eurostar in front.

See you next time! :)


Always a pleasure to view your posts. Your combination of art and information are just delightful. Tom Z


You have probably answered this before somewhere but, how much equipment do you take on your trips? Some of the scenes look difficult to shoot with one camera or one lens. I know you have a wide angle and a zoom of some sort. Are the panoramas shot with same camera? Tom

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