When I think of romance, I immediately think of Italy. Narrow streets, couples riding Vespas, plant pots on Juliett balconies, sharing ice creams and cigarettes, the sweet smell of garlic lingering on your breath after a bowl of out of this world spaghetti and red wine stained kisses. And my bloody God, Florence was romantic. However, I went to Florence for a long weekend to visit one of my closest friends who is living out there at the moment. So, romance for me – not so much.
I arrived into Pisa and got a bus to Santa Maria Novella station. On arriving into Florence over one of the city’s bridges, whilst observing the picturesque scenery that greeted me, I knew, yes this place is for me! It looks like one big film set. I half expected it to all fall down, revealing a backstage crew. As the bus pulled up I grabbed my little suitcase and met my friend and her flatmate. We chatted away, bearly coming up for air, you know what women are like. Hens on speed! The street was filled with people, not to mention the sea of football shirts, the Tottenham match was on that evening. Florence is like nearly all cities, multicultural. I love listening to the mixture of accents; American, German, English and of course Italian all within me having walked about 500metres, a mishmash of culture.
After arriving at the stunning apartment, which has perfect rooftop views. I had an obligatory glass of red wine, unpacked and we headed to a well-known family run restaurant. My friend goes to the British Institute there so 10 of her friends joined us, all from across the world. The restaurant was particularly deceiving, it looked tiny from the outside but it seemed never ending inside. The atmosphere was electric and the food was what Italian food is all about. Not to mention the price, honestly, cheap as chips!!
The following day, while nursing a tender head, the girls showed me some of the places to go to in Florence. The famous squares, Piazza della Signoria and Piazza del Duomo, which were stunning. We then rewarded ourselves with the best ice cream I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot) at Gelateria Venchi, which is one of the most famous ice cream parlours in the city. If you go have the nougat ice cream! To die for. Afterwards we went to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. You won’t run out of things to see here, but it’s not a renaissance overload, a really good collection of sculptures, armoury and paintings. It gives you a real sense of Florence’s history. As the sun was beginning to set we trekked up to the highest point in Florence, Piazzale Michaelangelo. Breathtaking and accompanied with a man singing love songs with his guitar. What’s not to love? Take a little picnic and bottle of champagne, you’d gain some serious brownie points!
That night we went to one of the more fancy restaurants in Florence, but I’ve completely forgotten the name. Shame on me. We had a delicious meal and wine to match, the atmosphere again was great and was filled with people from all over the world. I think we were the last people to actually leave the restaurant, that’s how good it was. As our food was going down we walked across the city to meet everyone else at the Westin Excelsior Hotel, which is situated right on the river and has a glass rooftop bar that overlooks the city. The decor was typically Italian, marble floors, deep red cushioned seats, golden sculptures and the friendliest staff. Again, the views were breathtaking.
I had a brilliant weekend. I wish I had been able to stay longer but the reality of university started to encroach. Oh the guilt! I can’t recommend Florence enough. If it’s not on your to-do list then it should be. It’s an inexpensive city, you can even walk from one end to the other, no taxis required. The food and wine are, well, I think you know how I feel about them. Again, not expensive, even the cheap wines are good. Unlike in England where a cheap, house wine tastes like malt vinegar. Not to mention the horrendous hangover it gives you the next day. No thanks. There is so much to see and do that you won’t get bored after a long weekend. The only downside is the carbs, I’ve definitely come home a stone heavier, but when in Florence….
Have you guys been to Florence before? Where’s your favourite place in Italy?