From the title of my Roma blog, you can probably guess what 15.8 is. Yep, that’s the total number of miles that I walked in Firenze! Firenze is a great walking city because it is much smaller than Roma. The best part about the 15.8 miles is that it doesn’t account for all of the biking that I did…
We arrived in Firenze around 4 p.m., and took a train and a bus to our Airbnb. The apartment was beautiful (and so were the two male friends who owned the apartment…). They explained to me that they tried to make the inside of the apartment colorful because the city codes about historical areas restrict them from painting the outside of their house. The owners were wonderful, and gave us bikes for free! The location was great because it was very close to the bike path that runs parallel to the Arno River. We only had to bike 20 minutes into center city, and the route was beautiful. The bike path ran through a public park, and many people take advantage of this perfect trail. In Firenze, more people bike than drive!
We arrived in the city around 6 p.m., and immediately grabbed some gelato. On Tuesday, Firenze had the hottest temperatures in all of Italy and Sicily… and we had to walk and bike in it. It was so hot that we were hungry, but we can always find room for gelato. I had some of the best that I’ve tried! I had one scoop of pistacchio, one scoop of straciatella, and one scoop of dark chocolate & orange. The dark chocolate & orange is my favorite flavor that I’ve had so far. After this, we started our walk around Firenze by visiting the Duomo and Santa Maria del Fiore. I was stunned by its beauty. There are details everywhere you look. It is absolutely massive and beautiful. After this, we walked to San Lorenze market and the other famous outdoor markets, and oogled at the incredible clothing stores along the way. If I had all the money in the world, I would come to Firenze to shop!
From here, we walked to Piazza Signore and saw Uffizi, and other famous statues in the square. I am always amazed by the realistic details of these statues! I always feel like a real person could crack open the statue and come out at any moment. Then, we walked to Ponte Vecchio, which was my favorite part. It was different than what I expected, but better. Ingrid and I immediately decided that we needed to buy a beer to drink while enjoying the view, so we went and found some. We planned to go at sunset to get the best pictures.
After enjoying our beers at Ponte Vecchio, we began our hike to Piazza di Michelangelo. It is straight uphill from center city, and it’s even better when you see the stairs that you have to climb to be rewarded with the best views of Firenze. We planned to do this just past sunset to capture the lights of the city. On top of this hill, we went to the tourist area to get a few pictures, and to see the Statue of David. However, we did our research about where the best hidden spots were to take pictures, so we didn’t stay in the tourist area long. While we were up on this massive hill, we took time to enjoy the garden area and look at the restaurants. I found a restaurant that looks exactly like what Bravo’s wants to be, but fails miserably at. It made me laugh when I saw it.
Once the sun finally stopped beating down on us, and after we completed the hike, we were pretty hungry. We found a lovely trattoria at the bottom of the hill of Piazza di Michelangelo, and stopped for dinner around 10 p.m. We had Chianti wine because it is famous in the Tuscany region, and sacchettini pasta stuffed with gorgonzola and pears with a light cream sauce. It was amazing. Ingrid and I stayed to relax and chat for a while, and it was the perfect way to relax after a crazy day.
After dinner, we walked back through Ponte Vecchio, and went to retrieve our bikes for the ride home. We started home around 1 a.m., and all of the local people were still out! The bike ride was so peaceful, except for when we rode through a spider web and got bit a million times. The mosquitoes and spiders were happy to see me in Firenze. We arrived home around 1:30, and got to bed around 2 a.m.
I was nervous about my travels back to Ragusa. I had to take a bus, two trains, and a flight by myself. I successfully navigated the bus and trains, which made me confident. However, I should have known that something would go awry at Fiumicino airport. We just don’t get along. They had everybody board the flight to Comiso (the tiny airport close to Ragusa), and then told us that we had to wait an hour and ten minutes due to a problem at Catania airport. I was tired and cranky, and I had a screaming baby next to me. The mother wouldn’t control it, so it sneezed on me and kept kicking me. I was trying to muster a smile to her, but eventually gave up and just fell asleep. Also, there was no air conditioning. I found out what hell felt like.
I am so happy to be back in Ragusa! I thoroughly enjoyed my travels, but Ragusa is home. My family was so happy to see me, and missed me so much. It made me realize how difficult it will be to leave here.
Visiting Firenze was extremely important to me. This entire decision and journey came to be because of my interest in Firenze. In November of 2016, I began to think about my goals for the new year. My top goal was to travel to Italy, and I began to research how I could make this happen. I wanted to do an internship in Firenze, and had a few offers made to me, but had to refuse due to the price. I was devastated, but knew that I had to move on to plan B, which quickly became my plan A. I found out about the possibility of teaching English abroad, and realized that it was a perfect fit for me. I always want to give back and help others, and never wanted to be a basic tourist. Now that the process of waiting and planning is over, and I’m in Ragusa, I see that the universe somehow had better plans for me. No matter how much I wanted to live in Firenze for the summer, the universe knew that I was meant to be with this family. I realize now how perfect they are for me, and that this experience is everything and more than I expected it to be. Going to Firenze made this entire process come full circle for me, and I am so thankful for it.
So, friends and family, today makes one more month until I leave Ragusa to come back to Pittsburgh. Of course I miss everyone, but I’m not really looking forward to leaving here. If you tell me that I should be more excited to come home, save your words. I love the people here, and this is my new home. They make it very difficult to ever want to come back. I know that I will be back some day, hopefully soon.