The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour 19 – Siena to Firenzi

Having arrived in Siena by bus we thought we’d use the train to get from here to Florence. The 12:18 on platform 3, to be precise. 

Also on that platform was a model railway. Cute. 

The train left at exactly 12:18 and we got an announcement in Italian, and then in English. The interesting thing about the English version is that the station names are said by a different person, in perfect Italian, spliced in between ‘welcome on board, this train stops at’, and ‘thank you for travelling Rail Italia.’  

We have an e-ticket. The guard took the phone, checked the number on his device, and that was it. 

Sleepers next to the tracks
Sleepers next to the tracks

By NZ standards the trains are wide and there is plenty of room. The gauge is 1445mm which is wider than NZ’s 1067mm making for a more stable ride. 


This is a regional (regionale) train so it’s not high speed, although I clocked it at 120km/h. 

Along the way we passed smaller towns, lots of countryside with trees, and the odd vinyard. 

a vineyard through the train window
We were told last night that most wine made in Tuscany is red, and this is reflected in local restaraunt menus. Whites seem to be relegated to the last page of the wine menu as they are not ordered frequently. 

One of the towns we stopped at was called Poggibonsi. Great name. 

poggibonsi station sign
Just outside  Poggibonsi station there were long clear sound buffers between the tracks and residential areas.

A large family just got on the train – seven children ranging from 4 or so to teens. From the luggage and the cries of ciao, ciao from the younger ones as they wave at a women on the platform I’d say they’ve been visiting a relative.

After the youngest girl started screaming the mother staged an intervention to settle the slightly older brother down. Regionale!

They’ve hopped off at Empoli. Arrivederci!

A man in a very bright yellow jacket is moving through the train cleaning and checking the bins by each seat for rubbish.

Montelupo stop has a old town on the hill, overlooking more modern buildings below. This seems to be a common pattern everywhere. Towns (and even large cities like Rome) were founded on hills, and expanded out (and down) from there. 

Shortly after Montelupo it’s into a long tunnel. Very long. (5 minutes pass). It’s still going, and suddenly we are back into daylight and by a river, and I can see from the map we’ve turned towards Florence. There a shingle works, and power pylons. 

We pass some high-rise appartments by more pylons. Modern. 


We’ve arrived at Rifredi, on the outskirts of Florence. The cleaner is back and there are announcements about the times of connecting trains. 


Along the sides of the tracks there is graffiti. Not the classic graffiti we heard about in Roman churches, the can’t-wash-it-off unsightly variety. 

graffiti by the tracks
And then we’ve arrived, 2 minutes early. 

the station concourse
It’s off to drop the bags at our apartment and then out to explore. The apartment is across the road from the station and has a washing machine. We’ll be using it, now. 

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