Sunday, April 14th was day 7. The original plan for the day was to take a train to Pisa so we could fly to Greece the following day. But we had to add a little detour to Florence when we found out that our friends (from St. Norbert, who are studying in Florence) were going to be back from their weekend away. So once agan, meeting up with people worked out ridiclously well. So far we have met up with Alex in Montpellier, Julie and Hayley in Rome, and Andy and Katelyn in Florence. Couldn’t plan it that well if we tried!
Our day began at the crack of dawn…woke up at 6:30 am to catch the 8:15 train from Rome to Florence. We met Olivia-our 4th travel buddy-at the train station and made it to Florence by 9:30. A very high-speed train. We arrived in Florence and made our way to the city centre where we contacted Katelyn to decide on where to meet. In the meantime, we stumbled upon the Duomo-the main church of the city. And then found a market. While walking through the market, the bakery items lured us in and I ended up getting a donut that was sliced like a bagel, filled with cream, and topped with powdered sugar. We sat down on the sidewalk and ate, because at this point we were still lugging around our backpacks.
At 11:00, we met Andy and Katelyn at the Duomo and began our personal tour of Florence. It started with dropping our bags off at Katelyn’s awesome apartment. Classic Italian apartment. So cute. After that, we walked around the town a bit and ended up running into Mimi Randall (who’s from SNC and studying with us in Cork), and her friend from SNC, Taylor. Next, we made our way to the outdoor leather market. The street was filled with leather vendors, all of whom will try to sell you something if you give them the slightest amount of eye contact. I had no intention of buying anything. I’m not a huge souvenir person because not much can beat personal photoraphs, but I am collecting post cards. Anyway, long storyshort, I bought an authetic leather side purse. Aqua and brown. As a professional barterer, I had Andy represent me to barter down the price. After trying 3 vendors (all whome were selling the same exact purse), he got it from 30 euro all the way down to 16! I told him the max I was going to pay was 17, so he did well!
After the market, we made our way to All’antico Vinaio, where I literally had the best sandwich I have ever had. Ever. I’ll basically eat anything, so I asked Andy what he recommended and everything he said sounded delicious, so he ordered 2 of the same sandwich, plus cheese on mine. It was this crunchy, thick, but flat, fresh bread, with prosciutto, salami, spicy eggplant, slices of cooked zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke sauce, and cheese. I think that’s everything. And it was huge. And only 5 euro! I want one right now just writing about it. Definitely a place my mother would just love. Oh and the line was ridiculously long and apparently it always is, but now I understand why!
We walked around a bit more. Checked out Andy’s apartment, and even though we had a huge lunch, who doesn’t have room for gelato? So we went to Grom gelato, the most famous place in Florence. I had lemon and pink grapefruit. Two delicious sorbets.
After gelato, we went to The Ponte Vecchio, which means “Old Bridge”. It was beautiful day, so we took our time and took some wonderful pictures from the bridge. Next we headed to the grocery store to pick up some wine\champagne to bring to a place to watch the sunset.
We made our way up to Piazzale Michelanelo, which offered the most famous view of Florence. Ridiculously beautiful. It was a definite hike, rivaling St. Peter’s Basilica, but entirely worth it. Plus, I’ll probably have killer calves after this month. We were really lucky that we were able to spend a good amount of time up there because we were able to view the city from sunshiney to sunset to night. It was a beautiful sunset and the city lights were fascinating. We had some wine and champagne (no open container law), and watched the city transform.
After we were about the only people left up at the Piazzale, we decided it was time for pizza. So we headed to Gusto pizza and each ordered personal ones to go. I got spicy salami. We took it back to Katelyn’s, thorougly enjoyed it, and booked it to the train. We took the 11:07 pm train, arrived in Pisa around 12:30, and checked into our hostel.
Florence was an amazing surprise and we were so lucky to have Andy and Katelyn to show us around. They were ridiculously wonderful hosts and we were able to see some amazing parts of Florence even though we were only able to stay for a day. At least it was one fantastic day.