As I left the train station in Florence, I felt underwhelmed. People said it was a beautiful city, but in the fifteen minute walk it took for me to get to my hostel, I didn’t really see anything special. However, when I check into the Plus Florence Hostel it was packed with people and vibrance, Florence was booming with life, now all I had to do was dive into it…
Date: May 28th, 2016
Time: 6:16 p.m. – 06:16 EST
Location: Funny Place Inn Hostel – Roma, Italia
Sometimes I think to myself that world is so absolutely huge, but every once in a while, I am reminded of how connected we all are. About a year ago, I matched with this guy on Tinder, and although we exchanged phone numbers and added each other on FaceBook, we never got around to meeting since he goes to UGA and I’m at Georgia State. However, the night before leaving for Florence, he posted a picture on FaceBook saying that he was there, so I commented on it, and he messaged me about meeting up when I arrived in the city.
After checking in, I met up with him and his friend at this little spot for lunch, La Burrasca, and as is standard when meeting other travelers, we swapped stories about where we’d been and where we still had to go. “The view from the Piazza Michaelangelo is the most beautiful thing ever,” he gushed, “You have to see it!” As for the food, I asked the server what to order and he suggested, “The trype! Very typical here in Florence. It’s the insides of the cow in a stew.” Without thinking twice, I ordered it – none of the servers had led me astray, so I trusted that this would be just as delicious as everything else. Nope. I was wrong. Basically I ate the intestines of the cow, and even though I wasn’t really thinking about it like that, the actual meat tasted unappealing in both flavor and texture. Sometimes being adventurous with food pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t – this was definitely a case of the latter. Overall I’m sure there are much better places in Florence for to eat – I wouldn’t really recommend this spot.
After lunch, I wandered around Florence aimlessly walking, taking it all in. Now I understood why people spoke so highly of it. I stumbled upon a busy bridge and decided to sit down and people watch. As the sun slowly began to set, I enjoyed the busyness of the city. I saw a guy crossing the bridge, walking my way, and he came over to introduce himself. “You have a beautiful smile, so I wanted to come say hi,” he said. I laughed and politely shook his hand. “You know what would be crazy?” he asked, “Oh lord,” I thought, bracing myself, “What if you just kissed a stranger on a bridge in Florence!” This time I actually burst out into laughter, “No,” I responded, as I tried to compose myself, “but I appreciate the offer.” He chuckled, “Well, at least I tried,” and walked back over with his friends across the bridge.
I sat on that bridge over an hour, enjoying the art of doing nothing.
Within fifteen minutes of getting back to my room, my friend from Venice texted me saying he had just arrived in Florence, and as it turns out was actually hanging out at the same hostel I was in with two of his friends from back home – again, the whole small world thing. I went up to their room, and we made plans to grab dinner at a place a friend of theirs’ had suggested. Osteria il Gato Y la Volpe.
We stopped by at a supermarket to pick up some wine for later, and then walked over to dinner. The place looked small on the outside, but was a huge maze on the inside. MY friend’s friend had suggested asking the waiter about the family style dinner, so of course we took her advice. The family dinner is 20 euros each and the chef picks out the appetizer and four different pastas. We were totally in.
When the appetizer came out, we knew we had made the right choice. It had different meats and cheeses and veggies and all of the flavors came together wonderfully, so much better than lunch. The waiter then brought out spaghetti with bolognese, penne a la vodka, four-cheese gnocci, and ravioli stuffed with pesto and ricotta. Honestly, I’m not sure which one tasted better because every bite blew my mind. Yet again, we cleaned our plates with leftover bread. “Buenismo! Buenismo!” I enthusiastically told the waiter, waving my hands around with Italian flourish.
After dinner, we had planned on wandering over onto a piazza to drink wine, but somehow stumbled into a little hookah bar. The Biebs played in the background, and we enjoyed fun cocktails while talking amongst ourselves as well as a fun Indian couple next to us. About an hour and a half later, we left looking for a piazza, (as in a plaza, not pizza) again, and came across an outdoors opera performance #OnlyInItaly. Eventually though, we did end up finding a piazza for our wine, and cheered to yet again, “Good friends, good food, and good wine!” Another happy night enjoying the splendor of Italian architecture and Italian wine.
We made it back to the hostel around 1:30 a.m., and in the morning I packed up all of my things since I would be leaving for Rome later in the day and dropped off my bag in the luggage room. My friend and I decided we would check out the famous David and see the amazing view from Piazza Michaelangelo. The line to get into Galleria Dell’Academia was over two hours, so we decided we’d splurge and pay the extra 10 euros to cut the line, which ended up being worth it because when we left we saw the same girls we had been in front of when we first got in line still waiting to get in.
Although I can appreciate art, I have to admit that I’m fairly clueless about most it, but was still very impressed by all of the beautiful pieces in the museum. That being said, my jaw dropped upon seeing the David. In the pictures I had seen of it, I hadn’t been able to tell how massive it actually was. The astounding detail mesmerized me. My friend and I went back and forth trying to imagine Michaelangelo chipping away at marble, creating this epic statue. It’s definitely worth going to see, even if you’re not a huge art person – go ahead and make the reservation ahead of time too so you can skip the line!
We walked by the Duomo and took in its splendor, but opted not to go in, since I was trying to catch a train before 5:00 p.m., and we still had to make it to the Piazza. The walk there was a little long, but very rewarding. My friend had been right – the view from the top was magnificent. We stood there for a few minutes taking it all in, and then decided to find a good place to eat.
Despite loving Italian food, for some reason we were both craving Chinese, so we went on a hunt for something a little different. We actual ended up stumbling into this very authentic Asian spot swarming with Asians and delicious aromas, but when we asked for the table, the Asian owner looked us up and down and said, “No,” point blank. Dejected, we continued searching for something fun and eventually found an all you can eat sushi place, not quite Chinese, but still promising. For 12,50 euros each we consumed an embarrassing amount of very delicious sushi.
After lunch, I was ready to move onto the next city. Next stop Roma – la citta eterna.