Frenzy is what happens when you forget to book ahead before going to Florence. It’s also what happens when your accommodations cancel on you. But more on that in bit.
Florence was absolutely beautiful! From the moment we got off the train and onto the bus to take us to our accommodations, you can tell it’s a much smaller and friendly city. I was pleasantly surprised to find that more people there speak English than in Rome, and that the costs of food and more importantly, gelato, were less than previous towns too. We arrived early Friday afternoon, and because I didn’t book Uffizi Gallery tickets ahead of time (woops), we had just enough time to settle in and then wander over to the gallery.
Two weeks before our trip I got an email saying that our room had been cancelled. Great. In a panic we googled anything possible and Tianna found a site called Monastery Stays, that acts at a sort of trip advisor for monasteries or convents around Italy. We had kept it as a sort of last resort and ended up booking at a place called the Gould Institute. Google it, and you can read all about the lady that started it and how it functions today. Pretty cool actually! Anyways. Thank goodness we ended up booked this place. It had an air condition and a fan, two beds and our own bathroom. Sweet deal. And for about the same we were going to pay for an apartment with one double bed and questionable air conditioning. Woo! The location was awesome too, located in the Santo Spirito neighbourhood south of the Arno River. Our wine geography prof Donna had recommended here too, so we lucked out.
We grabbed lunch at a place Tianna found (and turns out is also in the Rick Steves guide book), I bought some really nice, original art and an ATM stole my money I tried to withdraw (TD is working on it, sad day for me). Then we meandered over to the Uffizi Gallery and marvelled at the million pieces of art. The Borghese was better I think, but perhaps I am just more familiar with those artists than the ones in the Uffizi. After that we headed back to our room for a nap before getting dinner at a tiny place down the road from our place.
Saturday morning we got up relatively early to go to the Accademia. Again, I’m an idiot and didn’t pre-book so we ended up in line for an hour and half waiting to see David. In the end it wasn’t so bad and was worth it, plus the café across the street had these amazing pistachio cream stuffed croissants and coffee to go, which is rare in Italy. Once we got in though, it was amazing. You come around the corner into the museum and look down this long hall lined with other works by Michaelangelo and bam! There’s David. I got goosebumps. I didn’t realize how tall the guy actually is. It’s really beautiful. Another neat part of the museum is that it is home to Michaelangelo’s Prisoners, which are unfinished sculptures. You can see all the detail and chisel marks. It really makes you consider how much time and effort went into creating each and every piece of art he did.
Following the Accademia we went to Mercato Centrale, it’s like the Granville Market of Florence and it’s awesome. All I wanted to do was buy truffle oil, prosciutto and salami, and half a dozen cheeses. We limited ourselves to a bowl of pasta before I dragged Tianna halfway across town to an antiques market that we discovered doesn’t really exist. Oh well! Exercise can only make us stronger right?? Tianna went home and I wandered around for another few hours before grabbing an Aperol spritz at a bar Donna had recommended. The bartender was a total schmuck, but the drink was refreshing and I headed home after for a nap as well.
We grabbed an early dinner on Saturday and then found some spots on the river for the San Giovanni Day fireworks! We met some girls from the states, watched the fireworks, and then marched straight home to our air conditioned beds.
Sunday was a lazy, wander around town sort of day. Half the things we wanted to do were closed, so we ended up just buying our train tickets for the next day to Pisa and then doing a little bit of shopping. We bought haggled for a couple belts outside the market, and I bought a cute little change purse and some scarves. Tianna bought some scarves too, and then we found a bench in the shade to eat our cheese buns and fantas we’d bought earlier for lunch. I bought some cute shoes too, and now I’m struggling to find places to fit all my purchases. I’m going to end up looking like the Michelin tire man on the plane home. That night we hiked up to Plazza de Michaelangelo to watch the sunset with all the love struck youth of Florence. Too much PDA for us, but it was really beautiful if you ignored all the couples necking and just watched the sun set.
Monday morning we just checked out of our place, went back to the market to get some baked goods and fruit for lunch, and I stood in line to see the inside of Florence’s duomo. It’s beautiful, and the frescoes on the dome are impressive, but after seeing both St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel it’s just not as mind blowing. Either way it was cool to see. After that I went back to the market to meet up with Tianna and we headed back to grab our luggage and catch our train to Pisa.
We were only in Pisa for one full day and two nights, and that’s probably more than enough time. The leaning tower is… well… leaning, and only 56 metres tall. I think we both got more entertainment out of watching everyone try and hold the thing up for photos than seeing the tower itself. It took two centuries to build something that isn’t even straight. Why would you waste that time and those resources? No capisco. We ate at a cute restaurant the first night where the owner wouldn’t let us pay full price, and a sandwich shop the next day where I accidentally ordered a sandwich with lard slices in it. Tasty, but the consistency is not fun. I’ll translate better next time. Our hostel there was mediocre at best and we had some weird roommates.
When we left Wednesday morning it was absolutely pouring, and we had to make a mad dash for the train station. Not going to lie though, it was a nice break after 33°+ weather for 2 weeks straight. We got into Manarola in Cinque Terre around 2:30 and hung out until we could check in at 4:00. But more on that later! As promised, I included more photos! Also, if you want specific names of anywhere we’ve been, feel free to comment and I’ll send them your way! Also, the tower was actually neat to see. I’m not completely ignorant of its wonder 😬.
We’re headed to Venice tomorrow! If you have any suggestions let me know!