I loved the whole experience when we were in Florence last year for the Firenze Marathon 2017 that I made sure we were back for the 2018 edition.
The journey started on Saturday, November 24, 2018 with a flight at 7:05 AM from Brussels South Charleroi Airport to Pisa 7:05. We landed right on time at Galileo Galilei Airport at 8:50 AM. Bus fare from the airport to Florence was 14 euros per person, arriving at Santa Maria Novella Stazione in an hour and a half. Bus tickets may be purchased right at the baggage claim area or from the bus driver.
From the station, we transferred to the T1 tram in the direction of Villa Costanza and got off on the second stop. Bib pickup was at Stazione Leopolda, Viale Fratelli Roselli 5. Registration for the race was 64,55 euros.
Race credentials in hand, we proceeded to our hotel from the expo by the C2 bus, alighting at Ghibellina Bargello. Bus fare was 2,50 euro each and can be purchased directly from the driver. Be careful when buying bus tickets. Some bus drivers can let you purchase tickets from them; other buses don’t have that ticket facility available.
The rain started pouring by then. The hotel was just the next corner but we had to seek shelter at one of the stores to let the worst of the rain pass.
Hotel Bernini Palace is a boutique luxury hotel in a 15th-century building that used to be the House of Parliament when Florence was the Italian capital.
We checked in and went out to visit now familiar tourist spots nearby.
We also stopped by a couple of leather stores to buy leather jackets and buttery soft cashmere-lined leather gloves. Make sure you bargain at the leather shops though. The shop we visited seemed to have inflated prices for tourists but were will to give us discounts.
We were tired and famished by the time we finished our short walking tour. There was just so much to do that you really need at least a week to soak in the culture and the history of the city! We stopped at one of the sidewalk cafes for pizza and pasta dinner.
A champagne breakfast buffet greeted us at the great hall of the hotel. The hall used to be the ballroom of the House of Parliament and had beautiful paintings in the ceiling.
We walked to the start and finish area Piazza del Duomo to toe up at our starting corral. The race started at 8:30 AM with a six-hour time limit.
The course was the same beautiful route as last year. Richard waited for me to pass by the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
The usual water and isotonic drinks were available at the aid stations. They also gave out energy gels at two of the stations.
The starkly beautiful finisher’s medal was designed by renowned artist Clet Abraham. I made sure to take photos of some of his artworks adorning Florence’s street signs.
I finished the race with a net time of 5:27:27 and an official time of 5:31:51.
I saved the energy gels they gave out during the race. Finishers also got prepackaged cake slices.
It was an easy after race night before we flew back to Brussels early on Monday morning.