Hello! It’s me again! Sorry I haven’t posted in so long, I just like to keep my fans on their toes. Like when will the next post be? No one knows…. JK I have just been super busy. I had midterms, papers, and far too much schoolwork over the last few weeks. Isn’t my semester abroad supposed to be a joke? Well, it’s not.
Rather than blab about non-fun things like school, I want to brag about my last trip to the one and only FLORENCE! I just spent the last 5 days in Italy!!! How lucky am I? As you can tell by the many exclamation points used above, I absolutely loved it! Most of my trips have been confined to the weekend- we leave Friday afternoon and come back Sunday afternoon. But this trip was extra special. We left Friday afternoon and returned to Madrid Wednesday morning just in time to go to our weekly class in the Prado.
When I was going into the 8th grade, I went on a 3-week Europe trip with my school and best friends. We visited so many places but only spent 1 day on average in each destination. One of the many stops on this trip was Florence. I kid you not, we spent maybe 10 hours there and then left for Rome, but ever since, I have been saying that Florence is my favorite city in the world. This week just reinforced my naive opinion and solidified Florence as my #1.
I went on this Italian journey with 4 friends from my program who all go to Tulane. We rented an air b n b, book our flights and were on our way. We had literally been talking about this trip for 2 months and the anticipation was killing us.
On Friday, we arrived in Florence around 4pm, dropped our bags off at the air b n b and started exploring the city. We wandered the streets, stumbled upon the Duomo, went to the Magnum Bar and each customized one to our liking. Mine was chocolate ice cream, tipped in milk chocolate, topped with dried strawberries, caramel popcorn and brownie bites, and finally, drizzled with dark chocolate to complete my masterpiece. Classic Carly, am I right?! It really was as amazing as it sounds. After we sufficiently stuffed our faces, we walked and walked and walked until we were ready for our next meal. Because when in Italy!! Next to our air b n b is one of the locals favorite pizza places- Gusta Pizza. It was a dive with the line out the door. You order, pay and then fight for a seat while waiting for your food. With a group as big as 5 people, we were able to bully out another group and get a table rather quickly. Gusta Pizza is known for making their pizzas in the shape of a heart, so naturally we all ordered heart shaped pizzas because who wouldn’t? I ordered a Margarita pizza with pesto and was definitely feeling the love in the air when it was placed in front of me. This was easily one of the best pizzas I have ever had in my entire life and it was only 4.50 euros. Unbelievable. Oh the things I would do to be able to eat this again… We decided to go to bed with full bellies in preparation for the days ahead.
Saturday was spent doing all the musts in Florence. We climbed the duomo, had AMAZING paninis from Pino’s (again, I would highly recommend), saw THE David, ate Italian gelato, splurged on a leather jacket, and watched the sunset at Piazza Michaelangelo with wine and a friend from Tulane that we ran into. We ended the day at Acqua al 2 and again feasted on some amazing Italian food. It is hard to say what my favorite part of the day was but it was pretty special watching the sunset over the city of Florence with some people who I really love. Hard to beat if you ask me.
Sunday was a busy day for us. We booked a day trip to Pisa and Cinque Terre through Italy on a Budget Tours. We started at 7am and arrived back in Florence at 8pm. We loved our tour guide, Alessandro, maybe a little too much by the end of the day. He was so great, knowledgable, laid-back and fun! Our first stop was Pisa. We spent 2 hours here posing like fools with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was intended to be a bell tower. We visited the cathedral, and lastly we strolled through Camposanto (the cemetery). Interestingly enough, the cemetery was the initial reason for creating this famous plaza – piazza dei miracoli – that is now known for the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Once we were completely in awe of our surroundings and couldn’t take anymore, we trained back to Florence. Said goodbye to all of our new friends we made on the tour and went straight to dinner. We ate at Zaza’s and I had tagiliatelli with truffle — swoon.
Monday was dedicated to all things wine. We did a wine tour through the same company and to our surprise, with the same lovely, handsome tour guide. This tour consisted of three stops in the Chianti region of Tuscany. First, we visited a family vineyard, Tenuta Torciano, for a wine tasting class. This Italian family was lively, hilarious and extremely entertaining. I learned so much considering I usually drink the cheapest wine I can find whether it is in a box or a bottle- I don’t mind. The vineyard was gorgeous and the room that we had class in was set up beautifully with flowers hanging from the ceiling. We tasted 6 different wines- from white to red to dessert wine. We also sampled their truffle oil, balsamic oil, olive oil, and pepper oil. After this visit, you could say we were all feeling ourselves haha. Next we toured Pietraserena, which is a vineyard owned by an Italian couple. They showed us everything from the barrels, to the vineyard, to the machinery, but most importantly, the final product. Here we tasted 3 more wines while enjoying the view from their terrace. Lastly, we stopped in San Gimignano for one of the world’s best gelato at Dondoli’s. This could’ve been the wine talking, but it was unbelievable and exactly what I needed. When we returned to Florence, we were all hung over and exhausted at 5pm. Happy Halloween 😉 we decided that this was the definition of adulting- spending Halloween learning how to be wine snobs. I wouldn’t complain if this is how I Halloween from here on out.
And as if my day wasn’t good enough, I got to end it by having dinner with my lifelong friend Maddie from Denver and her mom Amy. I was so happy. I got to reunite with one of my best friends in one of the best cities in the world. I know what you are thinking- I am the luckiest. And I totally agree.
Tuesday was our last day in Florence so we made the most of it and did everything that we wanted to do. We woke up and went to the Medici Palace. We were the only ones there so it was pretty special. Next, we went shopping and I treated myself to a beautiful black leather purse. What’s next? Food, of course. We ate at the Central Market which was fabulous. They had many booths with all different types of food but when in Italy, you have to eat pasta. So that’s what I did… again. But it was amazing and the cashier asked for my phone number. So that was fun! After we ate, we shopped again on the Ponte Vecchio because we are fancy 🙂 and then stopped in the Gucci Museum. I did not know what to expect of this museum but I was blown away. They have an amazing collection. My favorite room had 5 stunning ballgowns and a projector showing what celebrity wore which dress- Blake Lively was featured!! After Gucci, we decided it was a good idea to eat again.. why? I don’t know. We went to La Prosciutteria and shared a charcuterie board. Yet again, we were stuffed, and in awe of the food in this city. Our last activity in Florence was of course another meal. We ate at Osteria Santo Spirito and ordered their famous 4 cheese truffle gnocchi. It was UNBELIEVABLE. We left the restaurant so full that we were in physical pain. I wouldn’t have wanted to end this trip any other way. Our flight was Wednesday morning at 7am and that’s the end of this journey. I give this trip a 10/10!!!
Sidenote- I joined a gym so there is no need to fret. Much love! Next post coming soon!!