Two Italian cities down! I’ll be covering Florence and Levanto in this blog post. Both were amazing for different reasons. But first, we eat!
Having arrived in Florence in the late afternoon/evening, there wasn’t much left to do but eat (we were also starving). How excited we were! About to have our first reali Italian meal in Italy! Our enthusiasm showed as we treated ourselves to a bottle of Chianti wine (regional wine that is very famous in that area), we split a starter of bruschetta, each got our own pizza, each got our own dessert, and oh! we got a basket of bread with olive oil and balasamic vinegar. Suffice to say, we are every bite and drank every drop. Such a delicious meal. There was one point when I literally started to tear up. Not at the food (although no one should be surprised) but because I felt so privileged! How many people my age can say they got to eat an Italian meal made by Italians in Italy? Not many. It was amazing.
We had to stay in an airB&B this time around because all hostels were booked or only had one bed left. It was pricier but we had to do it. We stayed at Il Mercato Centrale. Being the silly American tourists that we are, it took Emma and I aa day to figure out our airB&B was given such a name because directly across the street was the central market. Oh man. Let these pictures do the talking.
Okay, I have to talk about this market. You can literally watch them make the pasta from scratch, boil it, then serve it to you! Sorry mom, but this was the BEST pasta I have ever had or probably ever will have in my life. You can taste the ingredients in the pasta itself like the egg and the salt. There’s also a fresh produce market open during the day directly below this market. I love how easy it is to get cheap and fresh fruit to go in Europe! Oh and the gelato! I don’t know what the hell other countries are serving but it is not gelato! Every lick tastes as if they took a syringe and sucked out the juice directly from the fruit and put it into the gelato. Freaking good!
Florence was cool but honestly by the time we reached it, we had been traveling for two and a half weeks. You could say we were hitting a wall. I was mentally overwhelmed and just kind of tired from the tours, the history, the learning. My mind needed a break! We really took advantage of having our own room and bathroom. Long showers, sleeping in, lounging in bed after dinner with the lights on (not worrying about if other people wanted the lights off), and just catching up on some much needed rest!
We walked around the city, saw a woman singing opera (such a compelling and melodic voice) in the square, admired all the leather work (Italy loves their leather!), enjoyed the view from a bridge, did a couple of tours (much less informative than the Sandeman’s tours), learned we are awful at speaking or understanding Italian, enjoyed the hell out of that food market, and relaxed. But my absolute favorite part was when we went to the Boboli Gardens! These gardens are huge! They are located behind the Pitti Palace (once owned and lived in by the wealthy and powerful Medici family). This entire garden is located on a hillside so there is some serious incline going on! When we got to the top, we were treated with a stunning view not of the city but of the beautiful hills and homes hiding in the lush, green vegetation. There was also a costume gallery which included pieces worn by the Medici family (not allowed to take pictures). It was really cool to see outfits worn by people from so long ago and to see how they’ve aged. Super cool! From the time we entered the palace/gardens to the time we exited, it took us a grand total of four hours! Sounds like a lot but the time flew by. There was so much to see and it was beautiful.
So Florence, thumbs up!
A small village that is the next stop on the train after the five villages that make up Cinque Terre. Our first afternoon/evening was spent in Levanto swimming in the ocean (eek!), got a delicious dinner and planned out the next couple of days. This region is famous for its pesto (honestly life-changing) and this delicious bread called Focaccino. Obviously we are helping ourselves to this region’s plentiful and delicious resources. You can bet your bottom dollar we are satisfied! Italian food is simply delicious. Our second day we ventured the villages of Cinque Terre but only hitting three of them: Riomaggotie, Monterosso, and Vernazza.
Each village is a little different especially in terms of layout because each is set onto a hillside next to the ocean and nonhillside is the same. We took a train (so cheap and so easy) to two villages and back to Levanto with the exception of hiking along the cliff side to get from Monterosso to Vernaza. We hiked TWO HOURS and all I can are two things: booty work and gorgeous views. It was honestly painful; the most intense incline I have ever experienced but the view was nothing to be compared to.
Our last day Emma and I split up. She wanted to see the other two villages of Cinque Terre and I wanted to RELAX. Plus, I was in serious need of alone time. Anyone who knows me KNOWS I need just Brookie time and I got that on my last day. Emma enjoyed herself but so did I. I laid on the beach, collected sand glass, walked around the city, walked through the water’s edge, got food, walked more, journaled A LOT, and took a wonderfully hot and long shower as no one was in our hostel room. Emma and I met up again for a bottle of wine then some cheap dinner. Relaxing night in to pack up our backpacks and prepare for an early morning to ride a bus all day. Joy to the world. So that is half of my italy excursion! Excited for the second half. Enjoy the photos.