I was telling you yesterday about my weekend visit to Florence. I took the 5.45pm Trenitalia train and travelled Second Class – cost was Euro 90.00 or around NZ $153.00 (one-way). The train was modern and clean, with a dining car to pick up drinks and snacks.

I was really taken with the train station in Florence. In Italian, it’s called Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella. The station was built in the early 1930s and is an outstanding example of Italian modernism. If you view the station from above (which I didn’t), the design apparently represents the logo of Mussolini’s fascists, the fascio littorio. Inside, the station is well-lit and spacious.  For me, it was a weird mix of rationalism with a touch of Art Deco thrown in for good measure.

Going back to Rome, I decided to travel First Class – Euro 126.00 or around NZ $211.00. Never having been First Class on a European train before, I thought what the heck, you only live once. I assumed it would be like Business Class – better service, better food. Well, dear reader! What a joke. An announcement was made in Italian, then English, that drinks and food would be served. A chap came along the aisle wheeling a trolley and asked if I wanted a sweet or savoury snack. I hesitated so he gave me both – and here’s what you get in First Class on Trenitalia. I repeat – First Class.

One pathetic mint sweet and a packet containing two small bread sticks. Oh, and a refresher towelette.

Hello? Trenitalia? I think even good old CityRail back in Oz (and you know how I used to complain about CityRail) could do better than this. I’m paying Euro 36.00 for the privilege of having a small mint and some lousy bread sticks thrown my way? The only difference I could see between First and Second Class was the seats. Slightly bigger, with arm rests in First Class. But Second Class was perfectly comfortable thank you. And I bought a great lunch in the dining car (cost around Euro 10.00). I was ranting and raving the whole journey about the pathetic service. I think some Yanks were also carrying on. But the Brits sitting behind me kept a stiff upper lip in the face of the colonial hissy fit.

I’m thinking of going to Florence again before I leave Italy. But I won’t be going First Class, nope, no way.

Firenze train station.

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