Lovely compact old cities, easy to navigate but bumpy roads and high kerbs make a companion and a Freewheel something of a must. Johnny and Juanita flew BA to Pisa airport and took the new Pisa Mover shuttle to the Centrale railway station, from where they set off on foot to the famous tower. Most of the route is pedestrianised so it is easy to find after a 30-45 minute stroll.
You can imagine how popular this place is with tourists and, indeed, it’s a thrill to finally see an edifice so familiar from Year 3 Geog. Everyone strikes the pose in some form. We stopped en route for ice-creams at La Bottega del Gelato, north of the Ponte de Mezzo in Piazza Garibaldi.
For the rail journey from Pisa to Florence (trip times range from 40 to 80 mins), it’s a good idea to contact SalaBlu (SalaBlu.email@example.com) who will help you with timetables and the luggage, and get you onto the right bit of the train. The transfer to the train itself is level so they are not essential but for a first-timer, why not?
We stayed in the ground-floor accessible room at the Kraft Hotel (krafthotel.it) on the Via Solferino. Three steps in Reception are negotiated via the slowest platform lift ever, but it arises from flush with the floor which will impress a small child. Meals are taken on the roof terrace with romantic views over the city.
If you’re there for the art, the good news is that wheelchair users skip the queues (over two hours at the Uffizi when we visited) and get in free everywhere. Access to the attractions is good but the Ponte Vecchio is usually crowded and always steep; get someone to take a pic of it for you. We recommend the food at Mercato Centrale; browse the products on the ground floor and eat them on the first. They know their meat in Florence; Johnny had a great steak at Trattoria 4 Leoni (not far from the Pritti Palace) and Juanita’s spag bol contained five per cent boar and scored a palpable hit.
We also did opera (a new venue at Viale Fratelli Rosselli looks a bit like the Basingstoke Anvil, which is not meant as a criticism). It turned out to be a school performance of the Magic Flute; the principals were adult but, at the drop of a hat, 50-odd blooming kids were wheeled on to wave their arms about like Mr Gumby. Still worth seeking out a ticket if you can decipher the poster.