The ‘Florence Bucket List’ 

I realized I haven’t really written much about my day to day life here in Florence! So here’s the basic rundown… I have my Introduction to Italian Philosophy class from 9-11:30 in the morning. After class my roommates and I typically grab a quick lunch at a restaurant or cook something simple at our apartment if we need to study. My Italian Language class is from 1:15-3:45.

Even after three weeks I still haven’t adjusted to the long classes, but thankfully we get a short break during each class period. In the morning we typically run out to a little cafe by our school, we always justifying eating pastries because the stairs up to our classroom are ridiculous…Meredith counted and to get to our classroom there are exactly 92 VERY steep steps. I’ve decided the Italian people’s secret to staying thin while eating amazing pasta on a daily basis is the architecture here. Since nearly every building in Florence is extremely old, there are no elevators and the stairs go straight up. Hey, with the amount of gelato and gnocchi I’ve eaten the past month I’m not complaining!

After Italian class every afternoon I head back to the apartment because it literally is one door down from my classroom which is great! During this time it is the hottest part of the day (typically in the 90s) so I stay in and work on homework, do laundry, etc. Last week when we (my roommates and I) realized that our time was halfway over here in Florence and we still wanted to do so much! Our solution? The Florence Bucket List. We all pitched in places/things we wanted to do in the city and make a schedule.

We checked the first item off of our list on Monday afternoon. My roommates hadn’t been to Mercato Centrale yet and I wanted to go there again, so we walked over after philosophy. Since I had eaten a burger last time, I was determined to try an Italian dish. I found a place where they were making homemade pasta, so my choice was pretty easy. I ordered spaghetti which came with a classic red sauce and another unknown sauce, but needless to say it was amazing. I got a massive plate for only seven euro which was a great deal and it was so delicious!

I was also told that a restaurant in the market had Florence’s best cannolis so naturally I also had to try one. Also amazing. (Have I mentioned that the food in Italy is fantastic?) They filled the cannolis in front of us, so we definitely knew they were fresh. One side was dipped in a chocolate/nutty powder and the other side was dipped in crushed pistachios. Definitely a good trade for my usual gelato!

We checked the second item off Monday night/Tuesday morning. Contrary to popular belief, study abroad actually involves a good amount of studying! We had a huge project due Tuesday morning in our Philosophy class, aka we all had to read and analyze Petrarch’s The Secret, write a paper and present for an hour and a half to our class. However, we were all gone the weekend before so Monday after class we sat down and worked. Around 2:30 a.m. Juliana, Meredith, Reyanne and I ventured out of our apartment in search of a secret bakery. Secret bakeries are one of Florence’s {worst} kept secrets but perfect to fulfill a late night craving of Italian baked goods. In Italy nearly every cafe and corner store has an abundant amount of pastries for sale everyday, however a majority of these businesses do not bake their goods in-house. Rather, there are a couple huge bakeries in Florence that sell their products to all of these little places throughout the city. So basically these ‘secret bakeries’ are illegal because they sell their pastries (literally) out the back door during the night.

We easily found our way to the bakery which was just over a ten minute walk from our apartment. After waiting in line, it was our turn! The back door opened up and the baker asked us what we wanted and we all asked for the Nutella filled croissants. A couple minutes later he popped out again, handing us warm bags with our pastries. In return we handed him one euro each and left. I know I was hungry and slightly delusional from the lack of sleep and intense discussions about philosophy, but the croissants were heavenly. Hands down the best pastry I have eaten here, it even beat out the homemade apple strudel I ate with Maggie. First of all, it was warm. Second of all, it was huge, overflowing with Nutella and covered in powdered sugar. Think melt in your mouth pastry at 2:30 in the morning…the best. We all finished our treats in record time and all of a sudden our long day of work didn’t seem bad at all.

The next morning we crushed our in-class presentation, survived our language classes, rested in the afternoon and then headed to the Pitti Palace. Short background on the palace: It was built in 1458 and was originally owned by Lucca Pitti who was a powerful banker in Florence. Eventually the palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549. (Basically the Medici family ran Florence in this time period and were huge supporters of the arts and culture) Starting with the Medici family, the palace became a great treasure house for precious works of art and rare items. Eventually in 1919 the palace was donated to the Italian people and is now the largest museum complex in the city.

From the outside the palace is massive but doesn’t look that impressive architecturally. However, the inside is a completely different story. There were amazing sculptures lining most of the corridors and every single was covered with beautiful moldings or intricate moldings.

  

One of my favorite things about the palace was how colorful it was, some of the rooms were bright red while others were covered in thick wallpaper with different types of patterns on them. The palace was so extravagant, every where I looked was a piece of artwork more mind boggling than the last. A majority of the room’s walls were completely covered in paintings by famous artists typically depicting religious scenes or greek mythology.

We also walked through the Royal Apartments which I loved. Some of the rooms still contained furniture and light fixtures from the Medici era which is amazing. All of the walls were covered with portraits of the family members which we all enjoyed since we have learned a ton about the family in our philosophy class. Like so many other places I have visited, it is just crazy that this palace is hundreds of years old and have withstood the test of time. I could of stayed in each room of the palace for hours, trying to absorb the thousands of details in every painting, panel or tile in the floor. The whole entire palace was complete sensory overload with all of the colors, gold and artwork.

The more time I spent there, I realized Pitti reminded me of Versailles simply because of the size and grandeur of every single room. No detail was forgotten in the palace and it was absolutely impossible to wrap my mind around the worth of all of the artwork contained in one beautiful building.


After Pitti we tried a new restaurant for dinner. Sadly no one us loved our food and the portions were so small that we were all hungry after we finished. We ended up going to this hilarious restaurant called Tequila after our failed dinner. The first day I was in Florence, Grace and I walked by it and couldn’t stop laughing. It just struck us as hilarious that this Mexican themed restaurant was in the middle of Historic Florence. When Grace left she insisted that I go at one point, so there we were! We snacked on the Italian version of chips, salsa and queso and felt much better. We also laughed a lot simply because we were eating Mexican food in the middle of Italy.

On Wednesday we were all pretty exhausted from our weekends of traveling, lack of sleep from our school work and everything we had been seeing in the city, so we opted out of a museum for the afternoon and just planned on a sunset picnic. We bought a couple baguettes, brie, nutella and balsamic strawberry jam. We made the hike up to Piazza Michangelo in plenty of time to get a good spot to watch the sun sink behind Florence.

Even though I had already seen the view, it still left me speechless. Seeing Florence from that viewpoint you can’t tell there are cars in the streets, lights on the street or any technology in the city. Looking over the city from the piazza it’s easy to go back in time because from above it essentially looks the same. Imagining all of the amazing philosophers, artists and the Medici family walking through the very streets I walk through every single day gives me goosebumps.

Our picnic was amazing, and I surprisingly loved the jam and brie combo on bread. Sitting on the steps watching the sun sink behind the city and reflect on the river was an indescribable experience.

The past two months have been filled with stunning views, sights and experiences but watching the sunset with my friends, eating a homemade picnic and laughing about our days is easily one of my favorite things I have done. It sure is funny how the simple things in life really are the best.


  

After the sunset we walked through Piazza Repubblica on the way back to our apartment but had to stop to ride the carousel. When I came to Florence for the first time two years ago I was so sad I never rode the carousel so I had put in on our bucket list. We paid and then hopped on, only to realize that there weren’t enough horses left for all four of us! We couldn’t stop laughing and squeezed two each on the tiny horses. Nothing like riding a merry-go-round in the middle of a plaza in Florence to make you feel like a little kid again. It was the perfect evening.

In class Thursday morning we took a little field trip to the Brancacci Chapel. Nicknamed the “Sistine Chapel of the Early Renaissance” it was amazing. Our philosophy teacher is fantastic and one of the most knowledge persons I have met. She took us into the chapel and we observed and discussed the frescos that depict the life of St. Peter. I love being able to apply the knowledge we are learning in the classroom to the historic sites in Florence.


On Thursday afternoon we went to the famous Galleria dell’Accademia. Two words: Michelangelo’s David. This museum is home to the 14.2 ft tall sculpture of David, the biblical hero who fought Goliath. Seeing the statue in person put into perspective how massive it was and how amazing it was that it had started out as a giant block marble. Beside’s the David sculpture, the building was filled with impressive paintings, frescos from churches throughout Europe and many more sculptures.

We got dinner at our favorite place Gatto with some friends from our program and gelato at my new favorite place, Gelateria dei Neri. (Think cookies and cream, dark chocolate and coffee all mixed together)

We listened to some live street music and headed home because we had class on Friday. We usually don’t have classes on Friday but next Wednesday is a local holiday and all offices and businesses close so we had to make up the day.

However we decided to prioritize so we decided to go to our morning class and skip our afternoon classes in order to see more of Florence. (Don’t worry mom, only one absence won’t hurt me!) After philosophy we headed over to Piazza Della Signoria. We grabbed a snack at a little cafe, we ordered appetizers and ate them without knowing what was on the different types of bread. We later discovered that one of the breads was covered with Paté which is a Tuscan liver spread. (so gross) Good thing I didn’t know what it was until after I ate it.

After our culinary adventure we headed over to the Gucci Museum. I take full responsibility for putting this place on our Florence Bucket List. I’m not the worlds biggest fan of museums but this was one that I couldn’t wait to go to!

We walked through displays of vintage handbags, luggage and even a vintage Gucci Cadillac. Our favorite part of the museum was where some ballgowns were displayed. There was a gown that was designed for Blake Lively and I totally had a fangirl moment over it. The gowns were absolutely amazing with the most intricate details from lace patterns to a train of feathers.

The Gucci museum is here because in 1921 Guccio Gucci opened his first leather goods company and luggage store in Florence. They had an awesome photo gallery showing the original workshop in the city. After drooling over all of the amazing vintage Gucci products we ate lunch at the Gucci cafe.

(I know it sounds super posh but it actually was reasonably priced!) The bruschetta appetizer was great and my pasta was fabulous. It was the first pasta dish I have found in Florence that was served with a red meat sauce!

After our Gucci extravaganza we had some time to kill before our reservation at the Uffizi Gallery. I was telling the girls how when I was in Florence before Avery and I had gotten our caricatures drawn in the same exact plaza. So of course we decided we needed to get ours done as well! After sitting patiently and nervously laughing in fear of what the artist would make fun of us for, we looked at our caricature and realized he had literally drawn us all the same….it was hilarious and disappointing at the same time. He was clearly a capable artist but apparently only draws one style for girls faces. A strange experience to say the least… (I’m supposed to be the girl on the far right)

We finally got our tickets and headed into the Uffizi. A short history of the gallery, it was originally started in 1560 for Cosimo Medici and was later completed in 1581. It’s original purpose was to house offices of the Florentine magistrates but eventually evolved into a place to display the astounding collection of artwork commissioned by the Medici family. Like so many of the other museums in Florence, the building itself is absolutely impressive, boasting huge corridors, high ceilings and intricate decorations. 

    

The Uffizi is MASSIVE. We could have easily spent all day (no exaggeration) if we took the time to look at every painting, sculpture or fresco. Some of my favorites that we saw were Botticelli’s La Primavera and his Birth of Venus. Both which were works we discussed in my class. I also really enjoyed seeing some of Leonardo Da Vinci’s works as well as some ancient Roman sculptures. None of us wanted to say it, but we were all fading fast by the end and were so ready to go.

   
  

  

After a quick stop at the grocery store, we made it home and all immediately crashed in our beds or in the living room. We just made dinner in and enjoyed having a laid back night after our awesome day.

I’m really excited to be staying in Florence for the whole weekend! I’m sad it is my last weekend here, but excited to see what it holds.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s