We awoke around 7am, good and rested from the day we had in Venice. No one much felt like walking anymore, so the plan was to have a hearty breakfast and take off direct for Firenze. We partook in the hotels breakfast, same cuisine, which was again very good and before 10am we were off for Florence, actually Fiesole, which is a town in the hills east of Florence.
Once back in the car, I remembered how nice it was to have such a vehicle on this journey. Even though I have not had proper time to get acquainted with the 3er, I already have great confidence in how well it handles, it made me feel very confident even though I had no idea what was in store for today’s drive, especially what driving in Firenze would be like, as I had heard it was somewhat stressful and difficult to navigate.
As soon as we made our way from the Santa Chiara parking lot it began to rain, this was the first sign of poor weather we have had thus far, so we were glad it was occurring on a travel day as walking the streets of Venice soaking wet did not sound at all appealing. We headed out of Venice, across the long water way and onto the autostrada heading southwest towards Firenze. The weather really started to get bad as we began to ascend into the mountains and thru the tunnels, we only reached about 2000 feet, but at that point there was dense fog and the rain was coming down something fierce, made me feel like I was in Seattle, however as always the car kicked ass, no hydroplaning, no issues with the real wheel drive, nothing but solid handling at fairly high speeds. The one thing I have to say is how narrow some areas of the autostrada are, especially around the tunnels, passing trucks at high speed was pretty scary, but there were no issues and we began to descend down to a few hundred feet above sea level, at this point the rain subsided and the weather cleared up.
All of a sudden we were literally in Florence, it really took me by surprise as I had been preoccupied by the weather and had not paid attention to the trip computer. We ended our journey on the autostrada, total toll cost of 15.60 Euros and were plopped down right in Florence. I was pretty prepared for a crazy driving experience, so at first I was like ”hey this is not bad at all”. Literally I said this to my wife, but slowly I started to understand what people were talking about as scooters would pass on both sides of my car, cars would be 3 wide on a two lane road, or people would literally pass other cars on downtown streets, swerving into oncoming traffic to do so. It was pretty surreal, but nothing too bad, I think it is just something that you have to get used to, it also helps to be decisive, which is obviously pretty hard to do in a place you are utterly unfamiliar with, even with the navigation system.
We traversed thru town, I think we might have made it hard on ourselves by making a wrong turn which caused us to go directly thru the city to get to Fiesole, but it was a good experience since nothing bad happened and we made it thru town and into Fiesole.
When going into Fiesole you go down this huge hill and then back up another huge hill, the road is very narrow and I was a bit preoccupied by paying attention to the passing cars side swiping my mirrors (none did) that I missed the turn to the city, but the nav immediately re-routed us to a loop that came back to the city, so I continued to follow the narrow road and then all of a sudden like a little miracle there was a sign for our hotel on the right hand side, I had actually forgot the address of the hotel and had heard it was a bit hard to find, so this was a real coup. We pulled up their very steep cobblestone laden road to find an oasis of goodness. This place came highly recommended from many members of bimmerfest and I can see why. It is situated right above the town of Florence, you can see the entire city from their parking lot. We went into register and they sent help out for our bags and treated us like royalty, it was a real treat and much different from our experience in Venice. We went up to our room to find an amazing marble floored room with 12 foot ceilings and a great view of the city. The room was just gorgeous, with an amazing bathroom to boot (with a full shower and tub). This place is meticulously clean and the front desk is more than willing to help you navigate your way to the bus stop (that will take you to Florence) and anything else you may need. The kids were a bit disappointed to hear that the pool was seasonal and closed, but beyond that this is about as good as it can get for the price.
After settling into our room, we decided to take a short drive into Fiesole for a late lunch. The town itself is very quaint, we found a small pub that had sandwiches and small pizzas, we sat at the bar and consumed the goodness placed in front of us, food always seems to taste a little better after a trip and this was no different. We then made our way next door to the gelato store, the kids had chocolato and I took a chance on tiramisu, while Christie had a cappuccino. It was a great pick me up and we headed back to our hotel as the wind made walking around the town a bit uncomfortable. We spent a few hours relaxing and enjoying our grand room and then went to the hotel restaurant for dinner, realizing we had a full day ahead of us in touring Florence.