Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Grandma's Name is Florence

This post has nothing to do with my Mema and everything to do with my fall break trip to Florence. Additionally, please ignore the fact that I am wearing the same shirt in every photo and that my trip spans over four days. I packed extremely lightly for this trip and did wear things at other times of day and on the one day I am not in any photos. Thank you for your understanding.  

One of my number one destinations during my semester here in Paris was always Italy. My plan was to head to Rome, but after a friend decided to go to Iceland instead, my agenda changed to Florence. And thank goodness. 

My parents have always told me their favorite city is Florence, and now I completely understand why. My three short days there were not nearly enough and I am already planning my return for someday far in the future. 

A friend from school, Taylor, is studying abroad there this semester and she so graciously hosted me. From seeing the Birth of Venus to walking the streets of Florence till a ridiculous hour of the morning, I could not have asked for a better vacation. I've really been feeling stressed lately with school and such and going to Florence helped me gain some perspective and understand what this semester abroad is truly about.

As soon as I arrive on Wednesday, Taylor and I went out for a walk. She took me all over. It is so drastically different from Paris but beautiful in its own way. You walk everywhere, which is such a huge difference from Paris. The streets are small and all sort of look the same, but you rarely have to worry about cars and congestion everywhere you go. After our walk, she dropped me off at the Uffizi Gallery where I wondered around for a bit. I then popped into a  cafe for a tea, read my book, and headed back to Taylor's apartment where we got ready for dinner and going out for Halloween. We ate at an incredible pizza place called Gusta's. I took a business card and taped it into my journal. Some of the best pizza I've ever had. Don't get wrong, New York pizza is one of my favorite foods in the world, but this place is unparalleled. 

After dinner, we went out to a bar to celebrate halloween then wandered around the city taking silly photos. It was tons of a fun. We also stopped in a bar called Ebby's. A man named Ebby, who resembles Einstein, owns the bar so we ordered a shot named after him. He gives you a plate with orange slices, coffee grounds, sugar, and banana with something on it. You take the orange slice, place it in the coffee grounds then the sugar. You place the orange on your tongue coffee grounds side down and eat it you. You then take the alcohol with something mixed with coke (which was tough for me since I HATE soda) then eat the banana. It was such an experience all on it's own!

On Thursday, we spent the day walking around again and went to a beautiful spot that looks out on the entire city of Florence. It was truly amazing. I had such an emotional moment when we first stepped off the stairs and I saw my first glimpse of the city from up there. I know I say this all the time, but all my life, I've seen photos of this exact scene, and here I was, seeing it with my own eyes. We have a photo of Florence hanging in our house that my parents took when they visited, and now I have my own photos of the same beautiful city. I am so lucky.

Friday was another amazing day. We first went to a market to buy food to make for dinner. I'm not sure what it was, but the market gave me an amazing feeling about life. I had no idea a food market could do that. Everyone was so pleasant, sharing food and conversing. For some reason, this little market in a random place in Florence helped me realize how beautiful life can be. No matter how cheesy it sounds, it's what I felt at that moment and may never forget. After buying food for dinner, we took the bus up a giant hill to a small town called Fiesole. Taylor and I packed a lovely picnic lunch and proceeded to walk. We wanted to find a great spot to eat lunch, and that we did. We found a spot that not only looked over Florence, but gave us a marvelous view of the hills and mountains surrounding the city. As we were sitting have our lunch of fruit, cheese, and bread, two men passed us and told us we were far from the spot where Leonardo da Vinci took his first flight. We, of course, decided to go explore. Again, we found an incredible look out spot. We followed some trail markers and found a few cool things, but, unfortunately, couldn't find the exact spot of his flight. It was an incredible day of beautiful views, good food, and great friends and Taylor and I both absolutely loved every minute of it.

Saturday was my last morning in Florence. Taylor and I woke up and quickly headed to the train station where we made our way to Pisa to see the leaning tower. It was honestly one of the strangest sights I've ever seen. It was a bit smaller that I was expecting and, of course, beautiful to see. But really, it was so strange. You feel as though your mind is playing tricks on you. We took a ton of silly photos of ourselves but also of other people taking their own photos. Seeing the photos being taken is quite hilarious and I'm sure we looked ridiculous as well!

Overall, my trip to Florence was absolutely incredible. Having a break from Paris and stress was much needed. I hope to have a chance to explore the rest of Italy some day and of course return to Florence. It is such a unique place and, as my dad says, frozen in time. Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed! Much love <3

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