Why hello there everyone, or should I say ciao! As a girl with a craving for adventure and travel, Italy has been on the top of my list of places to visit for quite a while, so I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to make it to Florence in Tuscany. I think it’s safe to say that by now, Emma and I were craving some warmer weather coming from some areas that were still in the transition between seasons.
We actually ended up booking a room at a small inexpensive family run hotel in Signa, which is about a 20-minute train ride from Santa Maria Novella, the central station in Florence. Since our travel plans for the beginning of our trip around Europe got a bit messed up we had to book last minute and being Spring holiday in Italy, everything was either super expensive or booked. After all we are University students and we can’t afford to live like the Medici’s. The people who ran the hotel were probably the nicest people that we met in Tuscany and made sure that we were able to find our way into the city, Emma and I always said that the Hotel owner was like the Italian father we never had. Even though we didn’t speak Italian, and he didn’t speak perfect English, we were able to communicate just fine! The streets were buzzing with tons of tourists making it difficult to navigate through the streets of the city, and being on a limited schedule I have to admit our patience for taking a leisurely stroll was being tested. We kind of unintentionally got in line to visit the inside of the Duomo because the flow of tourists herded us into the queue. It was a happy coincedence because we had wanted to pay this historical sight a visit, and there we were! When in Italy, you have to prepare yourself for extensive queues. Just think about going to a theme park and waiting in line, at the end of the day it’s all worth it right? Plus, in Florence you get the free entertainment of seeing the street vendors try to sell random crap and weather related accessories to the gullible tourists. They definitely had their stash of goodies at the ready to market at the drop of a hat. When it was rainy–out came the umbrellas and ponchos, and when the sun decided to peak out of the clouds they whipped out the sunnies. And when night began to fall, the vendors were selling these light up flying toys which had landfill written all over them, but totally attracted the eyes of kids on vacation with their families. Well, I guess you could say that this line actually went by really quickly and before we knew it we were snapping photos inside the cathedral.
To be honest, I probably could have skipped waiting in line to see the interior and just ran over to get in line early for the Uffizzi Gallery because most of the beauty of the building was on the outside. Since it was so dimly lit I wasn’t able to get the best photos, but you get the idea…If you are interested in a guided audio tour then sacrificing a 45min to an hour in line may be totally worth it, but for me, I’d say pass on this one in the future.It is totally worth taking some time out of your day to appreciate the craftmanship that went in to building such a historical landmark.
Since we only had a few days in Florence, we had to narrow down where we really wanted to visit, because there are so many museums, piazzas and monuments to visit that all sounded really appealing but you can’t have it all right? In the end we decided that we needed to visit the famous Uffizi Gallery and endure the extremely long line. We tried to reserve tickets before our visit but we were just a tad last minute, but looking at the queue we thought “how bad can it be?” Um, well yeah about that…First we ended up in the wrong line because we could barely see the front of the line and it was a little confusing where we were supposed to queue. I suppose this wasn’t one of those times to just assume that if we followed the crowds of people, we’d eventually end up where we needed to be. We shouldn’t have shied away from asking questions, but luckily we realized the mistake we had made and made it over to the even longer line of the miserable looking people, who like us, hadn’t reserved a spot. This is when the little supermarket around the corner was sounding very appealing. All we needed was a little taste of Nutella and a bottle of San Pellegrino to revive us during the long wait in line. The many restaurants near by with hungry people being served their afternoon meal didn’t do us any favors either. The unfortunate thing about the museum lines in Italy are that once you are through waiting, you’ve almost spent longer outside the building than in and by the time you get to view the galleries you are so exhausted from standing that the last thing you want to do is walk around the crowded corridors to view the art. Even if you can claim that you got to see The Birth of Venus, is it really worth the two and a half hour wait? My answer is yes. However, as a note to my future self-plan ahead, book your tickets, and get yourself some treats to munch on for goodness sake!Here is the fake David. The real one is now located in the Accademia Gallery, but this is where the David originally stood.Oh hello sunshine!Close up on the statue here it’s “fashion model documentary hour!” (You’ll get it if you know what that’s from)
Of course after a long day waiting in line and walking through rooms filled with works of Botticelli, Michelangelo and Titian we were ready gorge ourselves with a plate of pasta and a dish of fresh gelato. You can’t really go wrong with gelato in Italy as far as we experienced, but I would definitely recommend getting a taste of the fragola (the fresh strawberry) it’s like nothing I have ever been able to find in the U.S. and it’s simply delicious. During our second full day, we took a little hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to see the gorgeous view of the city skyline. It’s a very scenic walk up several sets of stairs so it is a great activity to do on a nice day, but be prepared and bring a big bottle of water to stay hydrated, trust me you don’t want to get to the top and feel so exhausted that you can’t enjoy the view.Photo of the Arno River on the way to the Piazzale.One of the gardens at the bottom of the staircase up to the Piazzale Michelangelo.There it is unedited and everything. It looks exactly like you would see in photographs, but it’s a shame because when you turn around towards the sculpture in the centre of the Piazzale Michelangelo there are quite a few vendors that kind of ruin the beauty of the place, but I suppose it is a major tourist attraction so it makes sense.
On the way down from seeing such an amazing view of the city, we treated ourselves to a gelato milkshake which was exactly what we both needed to refuel before heading over to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. Surprisingly the line to get tickets for the museums and gardens was only about a 45 minute to 1 hour long wait and on such a nice day, this was a perfect place to visit because there were lovely green spaces to relax on and soak up some sun. There were two different types of tickets to choose from offering entry to a different combination of exhibits, so I’d say do a little research beforehand and see what sparks your interest to get the most out of your stay. Probably my favorite part our visit here was seeing the Medici family exhibit displaying the remaining clothing that the family was buried in. Not only was it incredible how much of the fabric had survived over the years, but as someone fascinated by fashion, it was interesting to see the articles of clothing that people wore centuries ago. Granted the clothing was worn by the extremely wealthy so it’s not a diverse representation of the fashions back in the day, but I guess that’s what tv shows are for these days.We spent a good amount of time in Florence, any time longer and we would have been in an eternal food coma from indulging in all of the sweet and savory delights. I loved the smaller city feel that Florence had to offer and everyone was so friendly which was a nice contrast to the more reserved people we encountered in Vienna. Ta ta for now, Roma awaits!