Florence / Tuscany
Wow, where to start, I am so excited for this post because Florence is now my favourite place I have ever visited and I was only in Florence for less than 48 hours. That's how much of an affect it had on me and I cannot wait to come back and spend more time there.
I don't even know where to start so here are a few photos for you to look at (just a sample). The city just took my breath away.
I arrived in Florence from Rome close to midday and after dropping my things off at my host's house he vespa'd me into the city (ikr! really doing it the italian way) and I was free to explore. I started by just wandering the streets and taking it all in. I went to the Dante museum and learnt all about the birth of the Italian language.
I then did some more wandering, found a cute café to eat in and met up with my host on his work break for a drink. We talked about travel and various must see places and I told him about my full day tour planned for the next day to explore Tuscany. He asked me if I'd seen the film 'Under the Tuscan Sun' and I had to embarrassingly explain that was the whole reason I'd be desperate to visit.
After our drink my host went back to work and I joined up with a free walking tour of Florence. The guide was absolutely phenomenal! I learnt so much in such a short period of time. I knew Florence was a key part of the renaissance but I hadn't realised that's where it was born. Basically every single ninja turtle got their roots in Florence, Da Vinci spent time getting up close and personal dissecting dead people here which spurred his fascination with anatomy and Brunelleschi built his famous Dome here. I could spend a whole post talking about how awesome the Dome is but I suggest you look it up, or you can read about it here. It's definitely something that fascinated me.
After the tour I walked along the water and saw the Ponte Vecchio Bridge which is super famous and managed to survive the second world war, a feat in itself.
The whole area is just beautiful. I spent a while just walking around in the lovely warm weather that wasn't too hot. After a while I headed back across to the other side and over to my hosts restaurant where he works, La Bussola. I had the most incredible meal (that's the pic above). If you are in Florence I recommend you eat here, I had steak Florentine (ofc!) and it was just beautiful.
After dinner I spent some time writing, finishing up my exam which - quick update for those who read the previous post where I got my dates mixed up - I was able to redo! Thank god!
Then it was a vespa ride home and bed.
My second day in Florence involved a long 12 hour adventure through the Tuscan hills including stops in Sienna, San Gimignano and Pisa. It was another early start but the day was absolutely fantastic.
We stopped first in Sienna, which is a beautiful town about an hour or so from Florence. Here we had a two hour guided tour where we learnt about some of the origins of the town and its wars with Florence. We got to explore another cathedral (I've lost track of how many I've seen at this point) but this one was pretty special. It took over 600 years to build which is completely insane to even begin to imagine. Because of this it contains styles and art from four different periods being gothic, renaissance, Romanesque and baroque.
It's kind of funny to consider that someone would've started work two hundred years in thinking "why they hell did they want it to look like that? it's so ugly!" as the styles and fashions changed.
Here are some pics before I go on:
After Sienna we drove a little further out between Sienna and San Gimignano to a winery where we participated in a wine tasting and had a beautiful lunch with pasta and a platter of various meats and cheeses. Honestly, after lunch and multiple glasses of wine I was ready for a nap but we had to venture on!
The next stop was the town of Sam Gimignano, which is the archway picture above. You know I'm a whore for a good archway!
The town itself is so cool! Because so many of its inhabitants sadly passed away during the plague it basically didn't evolve with the transition to new design periods. This means it serves a miniature time capsule into the early gothic design of the 12th to 13th century.
After San Gimignano we headed to our final stop, Pisa. Now you know exactly why we were in Pisa. For one thing and one thing only. To take a cheesy pic with the leaning tower, which by the way, really is leaning. I know that should be expected but I was still shocked by just how much that thing is leaning.
I met a fellow aussie and an irish girl on the bus (also solo travelling) and we all took turns taking pictures of each other for our insta's. One of which you can see above. It was a really fun time.
And that about concludes my trip to Florence and Tuscany. After I returned to Florence I rushed to the airport for my flight to Barcelona, and there my night of hell ensued. But we'll get to that later.
Till next time,