In 2014 I took a fantastic trip to Italy! Although I collected this experience over a year ago it lives with me daily and has become a huge part of who I am. It is probably the reason why I decided to give this blog a go! I have to share this with more people so this is the first of a few post you should see from me about Italia! I'll start with La cittå d'arte (The city of art).
Ahhhh Firenze (Florence)! Definitely my favorite city I visited during my tour of Italy. The art! Duomo! The food! Oh and let's not forget my first limoncello! First off, it's a walkable city and one of the first European cities where I felt very comfortable walking alone at night. After the sun sets, Firenze kind of feels like a large beautiful college campus with a lot of excitement and energy in the air. The people were also amazing and appreciated my "so-so" Italian. Actually, I noticed that most locals in all cities I encountered were very excited about my speaking Italian. I even received a discount at a store for speaking the language. I insisted on learning as much as I could before my trip so I could really imerse myself in the culture. My experience with learning Italian via Rocket Italian sounds like another blogpost so let me continue talking about Firenze. Florence top sights are "typical" but if you are an art lover I promise they do not disappoint:
- Accademia - Had a date with a beautiful man named "David". He was shy when I met him in April 2014 but by June he came out of his shell and now allows you to take selfies with him (You can now take photos of the REAL David!) In all seriousness Michelangelo's Statue of David knocked my socks off! Cultured Americana tip: Reserve ahead of time and get there on time.
- Duomo Museum
- Uffizi- Feast your eyes on the most incredible Renaissance art! Cultured Americana Tip- Reserve ahead of time.
- Gucci Museo- Cultured Americana Tip- Eat lunch at the Gucci Museo cafe before venturing into the museum. It's a very chic experiences with Gucci table cloths, dishes and even "double g" sugar cubes. By the way, Uffizi and Gucci are in the same area. I hit Uffizi in the morning and walked over to Gucci afterwards. Gucci museum is a quick, pleasant visit so don't worry about getting inundated with too many museums.
- Day Trip: Pisa
The highlight of my trip was when I took a pizza and gelato making class from Florencetown! I travel solo and I enjoy it. However, in a country like Italy with such wonderful cuisine , I felt it was a shame not to share the "foodie" experience. Taking the pizza making class took care of that. I got to meet other travelers, drink wine, cook and share! Our instructors were buonissimo!
Florence was also my favorite shopping city in Italy. Of course there are high-end iconic designers in Italy (e,g, Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo, etc). However, since I have access to Neiman's and Saks at home I opted for local brands that you don't see too often in the U.S. My goal was to come home with a handbag and a pair of shoes or boots. Instead I came home with 3 purses, 2 pair of shoes and a fabulous pair of boots.....Oh and a leather jacket.....oh and a couple of cashmere scarfs....I think that's about it. I left Florence feeling like I could justify a an annual shoe pilgrimage!
I collected an experience in Firenze that was particularly beautiful. One night after dinner I heard loud live music coming from a lounge and since the night was young I decided to check it out. I ordered my first limoncello and enjoyed the lively atmosphere. There were cover artist singing Lionel Richie songs, tons of cigarette smoke and a plethora of joy and laughter. A large party of about 8 or 9 entered the lounge with an older gentleman who appeared to be a patriarch. They sat at a large table near me. The patriarch called the waiter over and insisted he move my table to connect to their table. The man exclaimed "da solo non va bene! (alone not good!)" He spoke little English and my Italian is mediocre but he proceeded to introduce me to his friends. It was an amazing moment that made me fall in love with the people of Firenze. This is truly a place to love! I can't wait to visit Florence again. La Citta` d'arte!