Welcome to Florence, Ya’ll

6 Jun

Friday

This past weekend, we loaded up the vans and began our journey to Florence. The bus was jam-packed with everyone in the group and I was sandwiched in the backseat, uncomfortable, sweating and claustrophobic. Not a good combination for a 4 hour bus ride, but I was in it for the destination. Our professors were raving about how the bus had air conditioning. But if air conditioning is the equivalent to blowing hot air out of a drinking straw, then clearly I have been missing something. Two hours into the ride of doom, we stopped at a rest stop to get cappuccino and something to eat. Finally, we could stretch our legs! Things were especially looking up when I by mistake, received a free orange juice.

After downing my cappuccino and orange juice (not the best idea), we all hopped back on the bus and pressed on. We drove through the beautiful countryside of Tuscany. One of these days I hope to visit there. I’ve always seen pictures of the vast fields of sunflowers and it would be amazing to experience it in person.

And then, four hours later we finally made it. We received our roommate assignments, and took our luggage to our rooms to unpack and freshen up before we gathered for our art class. Suzanne (our art teacher), does not mess around. For someone who is about to be turning 50, she is in better shape than all of us combined. She walked us all over the city. We visited museum after museum after church until finally, we saw the greatest piece of art work in all of Florence, and maybe even Italy…The David. I am not, by any means, an art buff, but once I saw him, I had one of those artsy moments. An artsy moment, in my opinion, is when you literally stare at a piece of art for over 10 minutes, putting your hand to your chin and pointing and occasionally walking around it, . That was me.  It was the most beautiful sight I had seen in a while. From the time I was in grade school, I always saw pictures of the statue, but what I had pictured was completely different in person. Once you turn the corner to enter a different room of the museum, there he is at the end of the hallway, 18 ft tall, glowing and gorgeous. If he was a real man, girls would definitely be taking numbers.

After art class, we walked around the city for a little bit. Some of the girls went their separate ways to go shopping, but some of my friends and I yearned for more. We decided to climb the Duomo. The Duomo is this gorgeous church in the heart of the city and for 8 euro, you can climb it, all 500 steps of it. Definitely would not recommend for those who just scarfed down gelato in under 5 minutes while waiting in line (me) or those who are extremely claustrophobic in tight spaces. But all of that aside, it was the greatest experience. For those of you who ever travel to Florence in your lifetime, you MUST do it. The view is incredible.

A group of us on top of the Duomo after conquering Florence.

After climbing the Duomo, we wandered around Florence, in search of a local bar for some cold beer. We made a pit stop at the ATM, and to our surpise, the cast of Jersey Shore (Pauly D, Deena, and J Woww) walked past us. So of course, being the typical American reality show fans, we did what anyone else would do. We followed them, cameras in hand. Let me just say, the TV does not give them their orange appearance, they really are that color. That was a nice little encounter to end our extremely eventful day. We stopped at a little supermarket for some Peroni and snacks and headed back to our hotel.

For dinner we gathered at a local pizza place and I got my usual, the Caprese sandwich. Seriously, I have a problem. After dinner, we stopped by a little stand and bought a bottle of wine. We made our way to the rooftop of our hotel to join other people in our group sharing in wine and star gazing. It was a great first night in Florence.

Saturday

Saturday morning, after a restful nights sleep, I woke up bright and early to eat a delicious breakfast and head out for art class. Saturday’s art class was definitely not as eventful. In fact, it consisted of me almost falling asleep standing up. Have to say, I did not have one artsy moment on Saturday. After being at one museum for 3 hours, and after having previously been at another one for 2, our day of class was finally over and we were able to experience Florence. The shopping that is. Mom, if you are reading this, I really can’t wait to give you your gift. You will die. With that being said, I’m not going to say exactly what I bought because it would totally give it away. Let’s just say money was spent and the damage was done. But it was so worth it.

That night we all dressed up and headed to a restaurant for the most amazing meal. It fed me for days. The singing waiter brought us eggplant, cheeses, caprese salad, toasted bread with white beans and tomato paste..and those were just the appetizers. For the main course we stuffed ourselves with 3 different kinds of pasta–ravioli, pesto pasta and penne with a spicy tomato sauce. I of course, was stuffed but not enough to not eat my tiramisu. The wine was flowing, waiters were singing and banging on pots and pans, we popped the champagne and everyone was having a great time. It was an amazing last night in Florence.

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