Thursday, March 19, 2009

du bu fl(orence)

Ah, Firenze. Italy, the last stop on our Eurotrip was equally as incredible as the past two destinations in it's own unique way. I found the Tuscan region to be a dream, and the people to overall be very helpful and friendly. You'd think with my studies in Spanish and French that I'd be able to half-way maneuver my way through Italian.. as if. I guess I'll have to learn Italian next... ;)

Our plane landed in Pisa, Italy eight o'clock and by the time we got settled in our Florentine hostel, around 11, we were beyond starving. There aren't many eating options that late on a Wednesday night but luckily we were able to eat a fantastic find.

Like I said, I was hungry, as was Liz, but with the rainy weather all I wanted was a warm and filling soup. That's why I ordered the best Minestrone that I've ever had in my entire life. Oh my gosh, yummmm.

The next day we woke up early to go with our hostel's free tour of the historical Florence. After a short introduction the first stop was, of course, the Duomo. It was beyond beautiful. The architecture is like nothing I've ever seen before, and although I've learned about it enough in art history, I could not have been prepared for the sight.

After strolling around a bit more, stopping at countless Middle Age and Renaissance creations, the tour wrapped up in a plaza right by the Uffitzi, you know, just another Italian plaza filled with sculptures.
Then we began our own tour. The weather left much to be desired and we were without a map so we just let our heart and intuition lead us. First we crossed the Ponte Vecchio and then felt the climbed small stair wells and steep narrow roads leading us to...

our own secret garden. It was situated behind a Villa that housed an art exhibition and restaurant, and it was completely ours as the rain had scared all the tourists away.

We were both blown away by the natural beauty of the garden, and were overjoyed when the man who had sold us our tickets directed us up the street to the famous Medici family Boboli gardens where our same tickets would give us free entrance to the grounds and the costume musuem.

Lovely, once again. But our eyes couldn't keep our attention away from our prominent hunger! We exited the gardens about half-way through, made sure we could get back in later, and wandered through the neighborhood for lunch.

It was quite the search but we finally found a place that was open, an Italian restaurant. English was not at all spoken so I was surprised when I ended up ordering a salad with prosciutto and fresh tomatoes parmesan cheese. I just pointed and smiled!

It was amazing though, and alongside a few slices of Italian bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil, I had quite the lunch, finished as it always should be, with an Italian expresso.

When we found our way back to the gardens though, I must admit we were a little hyper, I blame the lack of sleep. The entrance we walked into had many odd and twisted sculptures and I thought it was completely appropriate to imitate them.
We didn't stay out too late that night and just went out for drinks with a group of girls we met at our hostel. And the next day the sun was shining! It was absolutely gorgeous out. We immediately went to the Uffitzi to see countless pieces of art that we had spent our lives seeing reproductions of, it was mind-blowing to see them in person.

Following our long morning we left the tourist center again to find where my university has it's Florentine center on the outskirts of town. We stopped for divine pizza for lunch.

And some Italian chocolate goodies and coffee for dessert.

After our day of wandering we also felt the need to get completely dolled up for a night on the town. If only we had known what we were getting ourselves into! Haha, we got home at five the next morning!

All in good fun though, right? :) And it didn't actually end up being too painful to wake up the next morning for our group bike ride through the Tuscan countryside.

Beginning with a little wine and olive oil tasting. Obviously.
The rolling hills and vineyards are to die for! Us, on the other hand, looked like two kids on their first day of school, lol ;).

Half-way through we stopped at a small restaurant for our group lunch.

We started with a salad and fried pizza dough.

Followed by mixed vegetable pasta with olive oil and cheese.

As for dessert, we split a decadent tiramisu alongside our coffees. What a fantastic meal!

And the rest of the afternoon was spent with some more bike riding. I think they call places like this paradise.

Our final evening in Florence was low-key. We might be young but we were exhausted after our non stop 10 days of exploring! And still, it was not over yet. Liz may have returned to Strasbourg the next day but I flew right on past to meet my roommates from school in London. Do you think you can last a little bit longer for my UK experience? :) Afterwards I will most certainly follow up with regular French postings: small Alsacian town exploring, touristing Strasbourg, and a trip to Nancy, Verdun, and Reims complete with champagne tasting! Hope all is well darlings, see you again soon!

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