Monaco, Riomaggiore and Florence

Staff member: Shariah // Trip date: Nov 2017

From designer brands to fast sports cars and bikini-clad women wearing my life savings around their necks, Monaco lived up to all the hype that surrounded it.

 

I did feel a little like a fish out of water but I enjoyed my time in Monaco nonetheless.

 

After a few sunny days in Monaco, it was time to move on to the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore to be exact! I departed in the morning from Monaco and took a French TER train through to Ventimiglia.

 

This specific train is comparable to Auckland Transports electric trains, it's rather basic but does have two levels and toilet facilities. I decided I would sit in the lower level to save the trouble of carrying my luggage up and down the stairs. When approaching each stop, announcements are made in French and English so you can prepare yourself to disembark.

 

Once in Ventimiglia, I took two Trenitalia Intercity trains. One through to Genoa and the second through to Sestri Levante. The first intercity train was delayed by 5 minutes but we were advised over the overhead speaker that all connecting Intercity of Freccia trains would also be delayed for 5 minutes so we could still make our transfers.

 

Unfortunately, that did not extend to the Trenitalia Regional trains, which I needed to take from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore - so I missed my final regional service. Luckily for me, I had a Eurail pass, which meant that I wasn't out of pocket and all I had to do is simply board the following regional service free of charge.

 

As the next regional service wasn't terminating at Riomaggiore and continued through to La Spezia, I had to make sure that the next service was indeed going to make a stop at Riomaggiore and not pass through it.

 

I checked this by going into Sestri Levante station and used the self-serve ticketing machine. The self-serve machines are really easy to use and offer its services in many languages. You start by selecting your language and then type in where you want to go. The machine will then let you know the next departure, train number and platform number you should be on.

 

Payment is the last step in this process but as my Eurail pass lets me board Trenitalia regional services for free, I didn't need to swipe my card.

 

Once in Riomaggiore, I spent a few days gawking at its beauty, enjoying the local cuisine and the lively and genuine people that reside in this cliffside village. If you arrive on platform one, you'll want to walk out and to the right where you'll find a tunnel filled with mosaics.

 

 This tunnel is lit day and night and will take you to the main street of Riomaggiore and will have you skip the big hill - I only learnt this after I lugged all my bags up that big hill! 

 

When it was time to move on from the Cinque Terre, I decided to have a day trip in Pisa and then travel through to Florence.

 

To get to Pisa, I had to take one regional service to La Spezia and one Intercity train to Pisa. Again, Pisa station is really easy to navigate as all signage has English translations under the Italian description.

 

Pisa station has a left luggage area where you can store up to 4 bags for 5 euros each for the entire day. You will most likely spend a maximum of 3 hours here as once you have your classic Leaning Tower of Pisa picture, you'll probably grab a bite to eat and head back to Pisa station.

 

Finally! My last train to Florence was yet another regional train so it meant I was able to take my time in Pisa and simply board whatever next regional service that would travel to Florence SMN station.

 

Once I arrived at Florence SMN station, I found my exit to the left and queued up in a taxi line to my hotel.

 

A tip I would like to let you in on is that you should try your best to carry cash on you and not rely solely on your cash passport or credit card as a lot of places in Europe prefer cash over cards.

 

Sometimes they will require you to spend a certain amount to be able to charge your card or they won't serve you at all! A friendly local in Riomaggiore told me that one of the reasons for this is to encourage tipping - which isn't quite compulsory like in the States, but certainly a friendly gesture.

In small places like Riomaggiore, they rely a lot on having cash come through their tiny village, which is understandable. 

 

Happy travels to you all who choose to use Trenitalia services!

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