When studying abroad in Florence, it's relatively easy and inexpensive to travel to other cities in Italy by train or bus. In this blog, Sara reflects on the day trips and weekend trips she took while studying in Florence, and shares tips for traveling within Italy and around Europe.
One of my favorite parts about studying abroad in Florence was the ability to travel to other Italian cities through Florence’s transportation system. From Florence, it was very easy to get around to other Italian cities. My friends and I would take day trips to different cities by train, but you can also travel by bus or plane. The train system was very easy to use and most of the tickets were inexpensive. While I was abroad, I had the opportunity to see many different places in Italy, and I will share some of the places I travelled to and some tips on how to get there.
During one of my first weekends in Florence, my friends and I travelled to Pisa by train. Pisa is less than an hour away from Florence, and the train tickets were only 8 euros each way. To purchase a train ticket, you can purchase it on your phone beforehand or you can purchase it at the train station. To get to Pisa, you can get a regional train ticket that allows you to visit other nearby stops within a certain time frame. I recommend getting a regional train ticket to Pisa and then visiting Lucca, a beautiful Tuscan city. Lucca is about a 30-minute train ride from Pisa and about an hour train ride to Florence. Pisa is really cool place to see, but I only recommend staying there for 1-2 hours because there is not much to see besides the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
One weekend, my friends and I went to Brussels, Belgium and on our way back to Florence our flight was cancelled because of a storm, and we had to fly into Milan instead of Florence the following morning. We had to take a train from Milan to Florence. My friend and I decided to stay in Milan for the day to explore and head back to Florence at night. Milan was an unexpected trip, and I am very happy I got to see it. My friend and I went to see the Piazza del Duomo, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (indoor shopping mall with high-end Italian stores), Santa Maria delle Grazie (church that contains the Last Supper painting), and Starbucks Reserve. Milan is a beautiful city and it is only about a three-hour train ride from Florence. I highly recommend seeing Milan even if you go for a day trip.
The Duomo.Starbucks Reserve.
During the end of my spring break, my friends and I were visiting Greece and we flew into Rome to spend a few days there. There is a lot to see in Rome, and I wish I spent more time there. My friends and I saw the Trevi foundation, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel. Also, if you plan to travel outside of Italy, I recommend looking at flights into/out of Rome because the tickets are generally less expensive than Florence and you can explore Rome and train back to Florence. Other airports such as Pisa and Bologna are also both cheaper options to fly in /out of compared to Florence and both cities are about an hour train ride from Florence. The airport in Florence is small and there are fewer flights going in and out of the city, which makes the tickets more expensive than other Italian airports. However, the train tickets in general are inexpensive in and out of Florence.
The Trevi Fountain.The Colosseum.
I also explored Siena and San Gimignano with CAPA on the guided day excursion. Siena is a historical, medieval city and San Gimignano is a quiet Tuscan city that has picturesque views of rolling hills and vineyards. Prior to coming back to the United States, I had other trips planned within Italy such as the Amalfi coast and Venice. I am sad that I did not get to visit those places, but I hope to come back in the future. Students also enjoy travelling to Cinque Terre, Naples, Sicily, Lake Como, The Dolomites, Verona, and many other places that I recommend researching.
Italy is a beautiful country with many amazing places to visit. There is so much to see in Florence, but visiting other Italian cities is a great way to learn more about Italian history and culture. Being able to easily travel within Italy makes Florence a great study abroad location.
Sara Shriber is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Marketing major with an International Business certificate at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
Sarah's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.