My journey to Florence was one of my first times traveling on my own. In order to get to my destination, I had to take the train from Farringdon station to Gatwick Airport, hop on the plane, arrive in Bologna, Italy, take a bus from the airport to Florence and find Sophe in front of the McDonalds. Sounds like an ambitious day- and I forgot to mention that my train was at 5:38 am! I also thought that it was a good idea to pull an all-nighter the night before. The day was successful until I somehow missed my bus at Bologna Airport. I was stranded at the airport for hours and was grasping at any bit of WiFi I could get in order to alert Sophe about the delay. Although absolutely drained, I was so excited when I found Sophe that I was rejuvenated with some energy. She made me a delicious dinner before we hit the town with her roommates.
After a very late night, we nearly missed our bus for our day’s excursion. We somehow made it to the bus and were on our way to Chianti, a small winery town in Tuscany. The town had less than 1000 people in it. It was beautiful to see such an open landscape. We did a hike of the area. At first we had some great weather, but by the end of the walk we had come across some torrential rain/hale. At times like that, you just have to laugh! Next we were on our way to the Chianti Classico winery. We got a tour of the winery and learned how his wines were made. It was 7 generation winery, so it was a great representation of Chianti wine. We were invited into what appeared to be his home (we later found out he lives in Florence, but uses this house for guests and for during the busy seasons) for lunch and wine tasting. Sophe ad I joke that it was the 5 year long lunch. But in all honesty, the 5 course lunch and wine tasting took 4 and a half hours. We had traditional Italian food (yum!), 3 red wines, a dessert wine and grappa.
The next day we got an early start and went to mass at the Duomo Cathedral. Sopeh lived right outside of the Duomo, so it was a quick walk over. The Catholic mass was in Italian and although I started off keeping up with mass, by the end I was very lost! Many aspects of the mass were the same, but there were differences I noticed.
I went to the Accademia Gallery which houses the Statue of David by Michalangelo. It was kind of expensive to go in and see, but once I saw the statue it was WELL worth it. It is unbelievable to imagine how Michalangelo created such a masterpiece. We also went to the Uffizi Gallery which is one of the most famous art galleries in the world. Much of the art was medieval and renaissance work. Going to galleries such as these makes me wish that I had more art knowledge. Although I appreciate art, I wish I knew more about it in order to truly value the opportunity to be in the Uffizi.
I went to the Pitti Palace on Sunday as well. The weather could not have been better! We stood in the gardens overlooking the city with the blue sky backdrop. It was truly beautiful. Perhaps I could have been royalty in Italy J
My favorite sight however, was the Piazzale Michalangelo. We had to climb hundreds of steps to reach the top of this lookout point, but I would do it a thousand times more for the view! We could look out over the entire city, the river and mountains, once again, with a beautiful skyline. At that moment I realized how lucky I was to be in Florence, Italy and to be studying abroad. There are so many sights, such as this one, that many people will not see. What a shame that such beauty cannot be easily shared. I read a quote today that said, “Travel: It’s the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer.” This is beginning to ring true. Although I am going to come home without a dollar to my name, being able to see Florence, the Uffizi, statue of David etc, is more valuable than the money I spent for the experience.
How could I talk about Italy without talking about the food! By far this was the best food I have eaten while abroad! Sophe cooked for me 2 of the 3 nights I was there and got all the food from a nearby market. It was so fresh and flavorful! The 3 euro wine wasn’t half bad either. 😉 I ate pizza at Gusta Pizza which was absolutely delicious. Only 5 euros for a pizza that was so big that I couldn’t even finish! I also had gelato everyday while I was in Florence!
I feel so blessed for the opportunity to travel to Florence, Italy. However, traveling with those you love makes it even more special. I am so grateful that Sophe and her roommates welcomed me into their home with open arms. Although the sights were amazing it will be eating sweets at 4 am in the rain, watching a movie huddled around Sophes iPad and making a mess with air-pooped popcorn (no microwave!) that will truly make the weekend one of a kind. I am so appreciative for my time in Italy and I can only hope that my upcoming adventures can be just as spectacular!