We leave behind Florence and with it, the tours of museums, palaces, churches and crowded marketplaces. We are on the train to Chiusi where we will pick up a car and drive to a working Tuscany farm with a fascinating history. More on that later.
For now, I am still catching my breath. We almost didn’t make the train. What was supposed to be a well-planned and orderly transition to the next phase of our journey turned into mad panic with an unexpected scramble. Who knew there was more than one train station in Florence?
We left our apartment in plenty of time, figured out how to print our tickets at the self-serve kiosks (as user-friendly as the ones in North America) and went in search of our train. Nothing. No mention of it on the departures board. When I finally tracked down a station official for help, she pointed out that we were in the wrong station.
“How far?” I asked.
“About five minutes by taxi,” she said.
It was now 11:50. Our train was scheduled to depart at 12:20. Ok, I thought. We can do this. I grabbed Sweetie and the luggage and hustled out to the front of the station. Only to be met by a very long line of people waiting for taxis. Sweetie decided to go scouting to see if he could scare up alternate transportation. No idea what he planned to do. In the meantime, the taxi line was moving swiftly, so swiftly that I started texting him. Get back here now! Just as I’m approaching the front of the line, Sweetie pops up behind me. He tried to hijack a taxi but without success. Had I known his plan…. Well, there you go.
Now it was 12:02. Yes, I was counting the minutes. I asked the driver how long to get to the Rifredi station. Five minutes? Noooo, he laughs. Ten minutes? Who knows? He throws up his hands. The traffic, you see. Ah yes, we were in the midst of Florence’s morning rush hour. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s pouring rain today. We zipped and zoomed and careened around corners. Well, actually it was a rather jolting pace. We’d zip, then screech to a stop. Zoom, then another stop. Lots of red lights. 12:10. 12:12. !2:15. 12:18.
“We’re not going to make it, are we?” I say to Sweetie.
In my mind, I’m running through options. Another train? Except there aren’t very many trains running to Chiusi. Rent a car in Florence? A bit scary but maybe our only choice. I deliberately rented a car in Chiusi so as to avoid trying to make our way out of a busy city. Ah well. I try to convince myself it’s just part of the adventure. We decide to make a run for it, anyway.
“Have your money ready and be ready to hop out.” I gather myself together, ready to hop.
We make it to the station. At 12:20. I notice, as I’m quickly scanning the area, no sign of car rentals. It’s not much of a station. Down a flight of stairs, cases in tow. A young, rather bedraggled young man grabs a bag from Sweetie. More panic! He’s helping. For a fee, of course. We find our platform. The closest, as it turned out. And surprise! The train hasn’t yet arrived! Sweetie fishes a few coins from his pocket to retrieve his case from the young man. We can’t believe our luck. With the train and the bag.
The train pulls into the station. We are in car three. We spot car two. We hustle down the platform. Next car also labelled, two. And the next. “Just get on!” Sweetie yells behind me. We hop once more. Wander up and down the aisles of the cars. Finally, we just collapse in some empty seats. We’ll move if we have to. The ticket collector comes by, punches the ticket, moves on.
Sweetie and I look at each other. We smile. The sun is peeking out from behind the clouds, dipping in and out but maybe it’s a sign. We are on our way.