After a nice wander around La Spezia harbour, we got on our train to Pisa. There was a fun moment during that trip where we had to get off the train and find our connection in 3 minutes. Half of the passengers on our train were doing the same thing so at least we had other people we could follow. It was a hot mess, but we made it to the right train! We left our luggage at the station in Pisa and wandered through the town, grabbing some Greek food at an international food market in one of the main squares. After lunch we followed the crowds to ye’ old tower. Of course the best part was just watching everyone else pose for photos.
At 4pm we got on our train to Florence. It only took an hour so we had some time to wander around that evening. First up: the hostel was perfect. It’s the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in. The beds were A++ and they gave you free breakfast AND they put out food at 5pm every day, which included pasta and focaccia at 6pm, PLUS a coffee machine that you could use whenever you wanted?????? And it was in walking distance of the centre????? Goodness gracious ladies and gentlemen, if you’re ever in Florence don’t go anywhere except for Hostel Gallo D’Oro. Unless you’re not a student and can actually stay in a nice hotel…
Anyway, that night we met up with Maggie, another exchange student from Strasbourg who happened to be in Florence at the same time as Jenna and I. We had dessert by the Duomo (I had some amazing tiramisu), where a group of old Italian guys were playing classical music. Very nice.
The next day Jenna and I walked through the Duomo and its museum, but had to wait until the next morning to climb up the dome as it was booked out.
It was super cloudy but at least the rain held off for most of the day, so we were able to wander through the city centre. We walked over the main bridge and up the (steep) hill to Forte Belvedere in search of some nice views of the city, but once we reached the top we saw you had to pay to enter the gardens. It would’ve been nice but we couldn’t really buy tickets for everything. Student life, and all. At least the walk up was interesting (for me).
After that, we headed back over Ponte Vecchio through the masses of people, in search for somewhere to get lunch.
Lunch that day was one of the best experiences we had – we were given free wine by the owner of the pizzeria, and when we went up to pay he pulled us into the kitchen for a photo. My favourite part was when he took my phone and zoomed in on me and Jenna and said “Bella…bella…” and when he zoomed into the chef on the left he said “the most beautiful one”. Very sweet and such a good memory!
More wandering ensued… a bit of shopping… and then we made our way to Galleria Accademia to see the statue of David. The line was pretty long, and the weather had turned very unpleasant and windy, so we were really happy to get inside the gallery. It was way smaller than I remember, but still worth a visit. We headed back to the hostel afterwards for a nap and some tea as it had really started to rain.
On our last day we woke up to beautiful sunny skies! It was still a bit cold, but we were super happy to get some clear weather before we had to leave. We started off the day by taking the bus to Michelangelo Piazza. Well, we took the bus three stops too far, but at least the walk back to the Piazza was scenic.
We then walked back down to the Duomo to climb up the dome. I didn’t think my legs were still tired from Cinque Terre until we had to climb up those stairs. I guess something has to balance out the daily gelato! The views from the very top of the dome were great, especially because the wind from the previous day had made the air extra clear.
Overall, I enjoyed Florence! The only bad thing that happened to us besides that not-so-nice afternoon was that poor Jenna had to cough up 50€ for not validating her bus ticket on our way to the train station. Not fun. But we made our next train with time to spare and continued on to the next stop: Rome!