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Cruise Day 3 & 4 - Livorno & Civitavecchia

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Day 62 Tuesday 16 November - “Cruise Day 3 – Livorno”

The Jade docks at Livorno which is a huge industrial port about 180 Km out of Florence or as the Italians spell it Firenze. The sky looks threatening, what's new? And we pack wet weather gear just to be sure. There's a shuttle bus service for 5,00 € each and as there's no other way off the dock, it is pay up and like it.

The bus takes us to the main square where we crowd onto a local bus to take us to the railway station. Trains to Florence leave about every hour or so and we purchase our tickets with barely minutes to spare. Jenny came close to breaking into a sprint to make sure we got aboard.

The train sets off at a good clip and shortly we arrive in Pisa which is a large industrial city served by a number of rail lines and an airport. From Pisa the countryside changes to mainly agricultural and we travel through a number of villages and one of the longest tunnels we've experience.

The ticket checker approaches and Jenny confidently hands over our ticket, but !! there's a problem. He points to the fine print (in English) which states that the ticket must be 'validated' before boarding the train or risk a fine “for details see our web site”. Very bloody helpful and informative – NOT!! He points out that the fine is 40,00 € but for 5,00 € he scribbles some words on the end of the ticket. No, it wasn't graft and corruption, he issued us a receipt for the money. We'll know to validate tickets in future.

After about an hour or so the train comes to a halt, there's an announcement in Italian and we sit there. Some young girls near us try to explain that the delay will be 20 minute. Time passes and there's another announcement, the girls explain that they don't know how long the delay will be. In a series of fits and starts we arrive in Florence fully an hour late.

Dreading the possibility that we'll be similarly delayed on the return we work out that we'll have to return on the 13:37 train back to Livorno. We stroll along the narrow cobbled streets and discover the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore. A massive structure clad in marble and ceramic tiles. It is so beautiful on the outside that the cavernous interior almost pales into insignificance. The main dome high above our heads is covered in an exquisite mural of heavenly images.

The cathedral sits in the Piazza del Duomo which is ringed by many speciality shops ranging from food to religious items including vestments and altar furnishings. We head back towards the railway station and chance upon the Basilica di San Lorenzo in the Piazza San Lorenzo where there were dozens of market stalls. We're assured that every item on sale is made in Italy. There were many fine leather goods and other items of clothing at very reasonable prices.

We arrive back at the station and ensure that we validate out ticket, a simple process of shoving one end into a machine that stamps some information on it. Could have saved myself 5,00 €. The train back arrives in Livorno right on schedule taking fully an hour less than the outward trip.

On arrival we are greeted with a massive thunder storm that literally dumps inches of water in minutes. We board the local bus back to the main square and dash through more rain and inches of water. The shuttle bus takes us right up to the gangplank and we crowd aboard like drowned rats.

Another exceptional dinner and we join the gathering crowd for tonight's entertainment. They are the Duo Acrobatique, a Russian strong man and a French ballerina who enthralled us with acts of grace, agility and strength. The act lasted the best part of an hour and was wildly applauded by all in attendance. As the Cruise Director was wrapping up the show, the performers involved him in a final show of strength, the man will be in anything.

A big day with lots of experiences, the 'storm' is causing the ship to rock a little, I doubt we'll take much rocking to sleep.

Day 63 Wednesday 17 November - “Cruise Day 4 – Civitavecchia”

Civitavecchia is the cruise ship's port for Rome and we tie up at about 8:30. The morning promises a sunny day and we've decided to just do a reconnaissance for the trip to Rome. We'll be back here in six days time.

Wandered around the town and found a bank where we recharged our € cash account. The town has some interesting features ranging from the top fashion houses to the traditional markets in the older part of town. Parts of the old town date back to the early centuries AD and many old but more recent structures.

We returned to the ship and spent time watching the various activities in this very active port. After another great dinner we were talking to the young lady that keeps track of the available tables in the dining room. She explained that she'd been to Rome today and seen all of the main attractions. We asked how she manage to get to Rome, by train or bus? She told us she'd been part of a crew's tour, the company provides a tour bus to take them to the more significant places. Not sure if the crew members have to pay, but it is still a very thoughtful gesture from the company.

Tonight's show was titled SHOUT!! A musical tribute to the sixties performed by the five female members of the Jade Stars and music provided by the Jade Orchestra. Another great hour of entertainment which I'd be happy to watch again as it will no doubt be repeated.

As a foot-note, we were a bit worried that we may have missed an opportunity to see Rome in fine weather, be that's as it may. Taking to some passengers who went on organised tours to Rome, they had their tours curtailed because of a student demonstration. Large sections of Rome were in total gridlock. We'll see how we go next week.

Posted by greynomadm 13:00 Archived in Italy

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Damn students - they should just suck it up :) Oh hang on, they're my brothers in arms.

Good to hear that on balance you had a good time.


by DrTard

My comment...BLOODY RAIN.
Love Maria. PS. Am enjoying your blogs. Thanks.

by mbessems

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