Italy Recap: Firenze
I am so excited to be writing this. Mostly because it’s long overdue, but also because I just got so happy looking back over all the photos and memories from this city. Florence was my favorite region we visited. I’m not sure why, considering I’m a beach girl through and through (and we were in Positano shortly after Florence!) but this was the only city that I sincerely thought, “I could live here.”
The First Day
We arrived in Florence by train on October 3rd (cue Mean Girls line). I was sincerely surprised by how smooth the ride was, considering the only experience I have with public transportation is BART and the San Diego Trolley. Their trains were extremely clean, safe, secure, and freaking fast. We got to Florence in like 3 hours after leaving Venice. When we stepped off the train, our guide met us on the platform. So far, everything on this trip had gone SO smoothly. I always get anxiety in foreign countries because I have no idea where I am and if I can’t communicate, I feel even more isolated. Luckily our guides were locals who happened to speak great English (and worked for a tour company that makes bank, I’m sure).
I was actually exhausted by the time we got to the hotel. Honestly, I was cranky and I didn’t want to do anything. I was dreading our 4-hour walking tour we had scheduled 2 hours after we arrived to the hotel. I almost wanted to stay back, but it was barely the third day of the trip and I was not about to be a party pooper. Let me tell you, this walking tour made me fall in love with Florence, history, and Michelangelo.
Piazza di Santa Croce & Piazza del Duomo
Our hotel was probably 30 steps away from Piazza de Santa Croce, one of the main political centers in Florence. It was bustling with tourists and gypsies. Normally this would scare the shit out of me, but when I looked to my right, all I saw was this massive church (first photo in carousel). It was literally the most beautiful structure I had ever seen in my life and I was in a trance. Everything about it was perfect to me, and I couldn’t wait to get inside. However before we were able to step inside, we learned about the crazy story of Dante Alighieri, an Italian poet known for being the first scribe of the Italian language. He was exiled from Florence, however he became very famous before he died. When he was laid to rest, the nobles of Florence asked if his tomb could be placed in the Church of Santa Croce; according to our guide, the response to the Florentine’s was, “you didn’t want him when he was alive—you can’t have him when he’s dead!” Now, every statue of Dante seen in Florence has a pissed-off stank face on it, because Dante rightfully did not like the people of Florence.
Just more petty history that I wish I learned about in school. This stuff is hilarious. Although we spent most of our time in the Church, I wasn’t mad. The Duomo was under construction and the outside view was captivating enough for me. (Photos above)
Since this was one of my first experiences of an authentic Italian church (Ancient Roman I guess you could say), I was completely mesmerized. It was huge, it was intricate, it was so beautiful. I have been in a lot of churches in my day (thanks Catholic school) and I have never seen anything like this.
A few things, I almost wasn’t even allowed in because I was wearing a tank top. They’re very serious about modesty in these ancient churches (even though Louie was literally wearing a tank top and shorts…but I digress). Luckily, our guide was smart enough to bring an extra jacket. She draped it over my shoulders and we headed in.
Inside, it was even more massive than it seemed on the outside. There were ancient tombs of Michelangelo (first in carousel below), Galileo (second in carousel below), and Machiavelli (third in carousel below) to name a few. This was shortly before I realized my love of Michelangelo, which was solidified when we visited his dedicated museum later on the tour.
Realizing I don’t have a lot of photos inside because I was really that mesmerized. (Also it was hot as shit)
Above on the left is the edited version of the photo I took of the incredible David statue by Michelangelo, and the right is how far back the line was to get up close to the statue when we first walked in. This place was a madhouse, however my anxiety wasn’t triggered because I was so focused on listening to our guide.
In the photo on the right, you can vaguely see a few other statues. These statues were “self-portraits” that Michelangelo had created of himself. Michelangelo is remembered as being one of the most famous artists of the Renaissance, with work like the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel in Vatican City to the very famous statue of David which is shown above. His artwork was particularly famous because he was one of the first artists to show detail in his work. Facial expressions, veins on the arms, defined hair, as well as defined fingers and toes were Michelangelo’s specialty. I also think it’s worth mentioning that he wasn’t using modern tools used for sculpting. AND, he was sculpting MARBLE.
Anyway, his self-portrait statues depict a stressed, tormented, confused Michelangelo. It is said that Michelangelo went through severe psychological issues due to his own perceived “faults”. It’s believed that Michelangelo was gay. He was also left-handed. If you forgot, Michelangelo was employed by the very strict Catholic church. Back then, they had VERY strong feelings about both of those traits. Seeing these sculptures brought a human aspect to Michelangelo that I didn’t resonate with in school. This truly changed the way I looked at Italy for the rest of the trip.
Oh yeah, we also stopped at the house Jersey Shore stayed in during their season in Italy. Definitely a highlight if you know me!!
I know, I can’t believe I’m only on day two either. I’ll make this a little short even though this was truly one of my favorite days of this whole vacation. Our second day in Florence, we were picked up at 9am (ugggghhhh) for an 8-hour complete wine tour of Tuscany and Chianti in Greve. Since we left so early, our driver and guide for the day insisted that we go to the top of Piazza di Michelangelo. Given my love that sparked the day before, I was more than down for the journey. Not to mention, it was a little early to start drinking.
The view was amazing. I was in one of my favorite outfits I had for the trip so naturally, Louie was kind enough to have a little photoshoot with me. Whole ensemble (except the headband which is Aerie) is from Forever 21.
After our first stop, we arrived in Castello Vicchimaggio which, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know it was one of the most photogenic places I’ve been.
We spent most of the day riding around Tuscany. Our driver told us how Tuscany is Michelle & Barack Obama’s favorite region in Italy, and they even have a home there. The city always welcome them, and the neighborhood where they live, he said, has a gelato flavor named after the lovely former FLOTUS. How cute is that?
We stopped at a couple wineries in Greve and learned about Chianti Classico wine—a wine that has very strict guidelines about how it is made. In fact, it is only considered a “true Chianti” if it has the coveted red seal with a rooster on the label. It was great wine, but I still have to say my heart belongs to Fruitcraft 😂😂😂. Click through the carousel below to see our adventure through Tuscany on that beautiful day (and all of the cat friends we met!!)
The Last Day
At this point I truly did not want to leave Florence. However we did make the most of our last day. We had a cooking class with an extremely skilled chef, Chef Desy! He has cooked all over, but currently teaches at the culinary school in Florence. We started our day with meeting him at the “locals” grocery store. I can’t lie, it smelled really bad in there. But that means everything is fresh right? We spent about an hour walking through the market and Chef Desy explained the difference between all the different kinds of parmesan and ways to make pasta. At this point I was starving and ready to get out of this smelly place, and I was excited when we finally were heading to the culinary school to start cooking.
Cooking: Authentic Florentine Cuisine
I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated walking into this lesson!! But we quickly got the hang of everything and were actually having fun in the kitchen. I actually think Louie became Chef Desy’s favorite, as he kept pulling him aside to help him cook things.
On the menu was a mushroom bruschetta, fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli with a sauce made from scratch, and tiramisu also made from scratch. You tell me that’s not intimidating? Well, we actually nailed it. Click through the photos below.
Our Last Night
was actually so much fun. We had gotten a little tipsy at this lesson and Louie, my brother, and I didn’t want the party to stop. We found a pub pretty close to our hotel and kept on drinking. It was a really great time and memories were definitely made. We walked back and Louie and I got to take some photos on the bridge outside of our hotel. You can definitely tell how drunk I was, so I never posted it 😂😂
Florence definitely has my heart. If I mysteriously disappear one day without a trace, you will most likely find me in this beautiful city.