The sky was so dark, you’d think it was the middle of the night and not very early in the morning. It was 5:50 am and I was leaving my house on about 4 hours of sleep. (I had resisted watching the last episode of Stranger Things, or else those 4 hours would have been 3). My excitement seemed to have overpowered my fatigue, as I didn’t feel even slightly tired. My friends and I were about to get on a plane to visit our friend Jennifer in Florence, Italy.
I met my friends Karla and Sabrina at the station to catch a bus to the airport. The bus was full despite the early morning, proving my theory that Parisians never sleep. When we checked in at the airport, we managed to get (good) seats right next to each other; signs that this trip was going to be a good one.
SATURDAY // We landed in Florence around 10:30 am after an hour long flight. At the airport, I found myself pointing out how many words I could understand in Italian. (Thank you, español.) It was shocking to be spoken to in Italian, since I rarely get mistaken for a Parisian in France. We didn’t know if we were actually being mistaken for Italians, or if they were doing it out of politeness. Either way, it was nice to not be spoken to in English.
The first thing we did in Florence was actually leave Florence–to go to Pisa! Forty-five minutes on the train was all it took, and we were already on our way to another charming city in Italy.
The walk to the Leaning Tower of Pisa from the train station wasn’t a long one. It was funny to see the tourists all doing their own yoga-like movements to get the perfect photo. We joined in, of course.
After our short trip to Pisa, we went back to Florence where we met Jennifer’s host family. She then took us to the delicious pizza place across the street from her house. We spent a lot of our time inside, that night, as we were trying to avoid the pouring rain.
SUNDAY // On Sunday, we woke up to the sound of bells and cheers. The Florence Marathon was happening that day, and since our Airbnb was in the center of the city, we heard it all. When we left the airbnb early that afternoon, we actually got to see the last of the runners cross the finish line.
Sunday was spent getting to know Florence better (and freezing our butts off). A great way to do that is by eating tons of food. It was forty-seven degrees out but that didn’t stop us from buying gelato.
Jennifer showed us around the city, where we got to see the famous Duomo di Firenze. The cathedral was under construction, but still managed to take my breath away. The details on it are honestly insane. Little did I know that that wouldn’t be the best view of the Duomo I would see that day.
Our walk through the city also lead us to the Ponte Vecchio, easily the place where I took the most photos. The row of colorful buildings on either side of the Arno River made for the perfect backdrop.
After buying a few souvenirs (and taking a lot of photos), Jennifer took us on a hike to see the best view of Florence. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it didn’t matter anyway; the view surpassed any expectation I could have had. We somehow managed to make it up the top of the hill just before sunset, making the view even more magnificent. I can honestly say it was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life.
Above is a bad-quality snapchat selfie from atop the hill we were on. Eventually, the sun went down and so did we. We took a bus to grab an early dinner. I had already crossed off paninis, pizza, and gelato from my list, which left two things left to eat: real Italian pasta and cannolis. Jennifer took me to a restaurant (whose name I forgot) where I had the most delicious spaghetti I have ever had in my life. I’ve always loved pasta, but I had no idea it could be that good. Every pasta dish I eat from now on will have to measure up to the pasta I had that night–an impossibly high bar to surpass.
Below is another bad snapchat photo, of my dinner this time, from Sunday night. I couldn’t describe the best pasta I’ve ever had and NOT include a photo. (Plz don’t judge me for the amount of cheese I put on my pasta. thx.)
If your mouth isn’t watering yet from the fresh tomato and basil in my spaghetti, then the next photos are sure to make it happen. Jennifer suggested we get cannolis after dinner and nobody opposed. I’m generally not a huge dessert person, especially with cream-filled desserts. I almost passed on the cannolis (especially since I was so full from dinner), but I figured it was best not to skip out on the opportunity to eat real Italian cannolis. I was right.
I bit into the cannoli and my life was changed. It was at this moment that I was convinced I wanted to learn Italian and come back to Florence in the future.
I went with a ricotta filling (as opposed to the pistachio filling my friends chose) and nuts and chocolate chips for toppings. As with the pasta, I realized that every cannoli I had ever eaten up until this moment had been *insert trash emoji* I couldn’t believe how good this cannoli was.
We went back to the airbnb that night and snacked on popcorn while we watched a movie. We all went to bed late, and after two hours or so of sleep, we were back at the airport, Paris bound.
I am so grateful for our trip to Italy. It was the first trip we’ve taken outside of France via plane, making it feel like our first real european adventure. I am also so grateful for my friends, who make the greatest travel companions and make traveling on two hours of sleep worth it.
A special thank you to Jennifer for showing us around the place she’s called home this past semester. You were the greatest tour guide!