An hour before my friend Paige and I left for the bus station in Granda, I started packing.
My mother would have expected it, after all, I waited until the last minute to pack up most of my belongings for college. But still, it kind of shocked me. The fact that going to a famous and beautiful city like Florence, Italy didn’t make me jump up and down and start packing weeks in advance is a little sad. I don’t want these amazing experiences to start to seem any less incredible. I’m determined to fully savor and appreciate these last few months in Europe.
Thankfully, I kicked off this new mentality with a Birthday visit to Florence and Rome!!
We arrived in Florence after a full day of traveling and began to explore the city. I was fortunate to have Paige’s wonderful friends from Gonzaga to show us the beautiful sights of the city. Without them I probably would’ve gotten lost and tried to take a nap on a park bench (ironically, I ended up doing just that in Sevilla a few weeks, later. You can read about that soon!)
After we put our luggage away and had a quick rest, we went exploring and hiked up to see a remarkable view of the city.
After seeing the remarkable beauty of the Florentine skyline we went in search of some delicious gelato. We found a sweet little gelato shop one of the professors had recommended and now I highly recommend it as well!
After a brief break and siesta we went in search of some authentic Italian carbs.
We got a little (okay, a lot) lost, but we eventually found a place with cheap and delicious pizza! The Italians are not only my people because of my actual genetic connection to them, but also because of our shared love of bread, cheese and pomodro.
The next morning we found a wonderful cafe with amazing fresh pastries…
After breakfast we went on a hike and I felt like I was back home in the Pacific Northwest.
After we found ourselves in a quaint little town outside of Florence we got surprising delicious sandwiches for lunch. I failed to order mine properly in Italian/ Spanglish, but it still turned out great.
After the hike we visited the Uffizi Gallery. It was a remarkable experience. These pictures don’t capture the feelings that come with standing in front of these works of art. (Also, thank you Grandma Brenda for teaching me about some of the world’s best artists… I’m beginning to appreciate all the hours I’ve spent in art museums with you. ❤ )
After spending most of the day in the gallery and occasionally listening to tours we didn’t pay for (I had to switch between English and Spanish to understand them and that was sort of like an educational payment, right?) we headed to find dinner. I’m not kidding about the food in Italy, it’s worthy of multiple mentions.
We went to an adorably Italian-looking restaurant a few blocks from where we were staying.
The next morning, Sunday, we attended mass at the Basilica di Santa Croce, which is the principal Franciscan church in Florence. It was a phenomenal experience, even though the entire mass was in Italian and I could only understand the parts that were similar to Spanish… which was actually quite a bit.
After mass we visited the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo di Firenze.
The rest of our time in Florence was spent bargaining for scarves, walking across the river and discovering more of the mesmerizing beauty the city has to offer.
We then headed onto spend my Birthday in Rome.
I had dreams of feeling like Lizzie-McGuire, riding around the city on a vespa, but sadly we arrived to a hailstorm. Thankfully, Paige and I are optimistic travelers and battled through the storm to visit the Colosseum!
I am beyond thankful for this amazing Birthday weekend and know I will remember it forever.
(Also, stay tuned for my Spring Break posts from Rome and the beaches of Athens, Greece!)