My new favorite place
(decided approximately 20 min after arriving)We didn't even make it 2 blocks out of the bus station before I declared my love for the Florence. I'm not even sure what it was. Considering that our introduction to the Tuscan town was a lengthy walk through the rain, it's a surprise I viewed anything favorably. We left Rome bright and early, nearly missing our bus. Good thing Italians are nice! Even with the language barrier they helped point us in the right direction. After a couple hours on a remarkably comfortable bus (especially now that I have gotten used to eastern European ones), we found ourselves in a cloudy Florence. Managed to drag our stuff over to our Airbnb before it started raining. The thing I love about Airbnb, the thing so many people love about Airbnb, is the experience of living and interacting with locals. Our host had to run an errand and had her elderly aunt hold down fort and welcome us in. The catch? She didn't know any English. And we knew approximately two words of Italian. But everything was ok. The sweet doorman (who also spoke no English) welcomed us in and took us through the maze of halls right to the door of the apartment. There, said aunt showed us to our room and gave us directions in Italian that we somehow understood. I guess between my laughable understanding of French, remnants of Spanish from high school, and exaggerated body language, the broken communication channel somehow worked.
LUNCH @ ALL'ANTICO VINAIOAfter freshening up, and failing to wish away the rain, we decided we'd rather be wet and exploring so we set off. Plus we were hungry. Several friends recommended All'Antico Vinaio for the best sandwiches in town, so we wandered our way over, trying not to get too distracted by the beautiful city around us.
I guess every other tourist in the city had the same idea, because the rain didn't stop the line and people were huddled under tiny awnings with giant sandwiches. I was down. The menu was scribbled on one side of the wall, there was meat hanging from the ceilings, fresh bread laying on the counter, and a colorful palette of condiments displayed in a glass case. The assembly line moved fast, but didn't ever make a dent in the crowd of hungry customers pouring in. Because crowds and food decisions make me anxious, I'm pretty sure I just got the first thing I saw on the menu and went with it. In the end, I didn't really know what I was eating, but it was probably the best sandwich I've ever had. THE BREAD WAS TO DIE FOR.
DESSERT @ GELATERIA DEI NERINext stop, dessert. The nearby Gelateria dei Neri, also recommended by several friends. Established in 1989, the shop is loved by locals and (in stark contrast from our sandwich experience) not infested by tourists. Also, SO CHEAP compared to stuck up gelato places in America. The smallest cup was only €1,80!! Maybe it was better that I didn't study abroad here...
PIAZZALE MICHELANGELOOf course the next thing on the agenda is a poor attempt at walking off everything just consumed. It was time for the #obligatory panoramic photo from Piazzale Michelangelo. A friend assured me that a photo taken here would surely rack up likes. But it was hard not to get distracted by everything else on the way – the river, the colorful buildings against the lush green landscape...and the darkening clouds waiting to drench us.
COFFEE BREAKI am not exaggerating when I say that we were practically blown off the hill. The wind got so strong that it didn't take much energy to get back down to the river. Once there, we decided to follow the road, entranced by the shops and cafés lining the street. Photogenic AF. I don't think we walked more than 10 minutes before we decided to stop for coffee. Maybe because it was still drizzling. Maybe because our early morning was catching up to us. Maybe because we were just REALLY ATTRACTED TO THE PASTRY BAR. But it doesn't matter. The point is, we stepped inside, ordered two cappuccinos and selected our sweet pastry. I then proceeded to photograph our drinks and get the perfect 'grams.
Florence sure looks good in the rain.
GELATO ROUND 2What more to do, but eat again? I mean, granted the other highly recommended gelateria, La Carraia, was on this side of the river, and we didn't want to have to come back.
IL DUOMO DI FIRENZEBack in high school, my AP Euro summer homework was to read Brunelleschi's Dome. It's safe to say that I hated it. Or at least I just didn't really care and found it to be boring. Fast forward seven years and I'm staring in awe at the sheer size of the cathedral, finally understanding why the architecture was so impressive.
SHOPPING & DINNER
Italy Part 1: Rome
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