This is where I will be posting updates on my everyday adventures on this journey called life.

Monday, 4 November 2013

A Weekend in Florence

Ciao a tutti!

Having been in Hamburg for a month now, I finally went on my first big trip outside of Germany.  As most of you already know, I spent my weekend in Florence, Italy!

It all started when I was browsing Skyscanner for cheap flights (really great for discount airlines as you can search from a specific city to anywhere in Europe!).  I ended up finding a cheap flight between Hamburg-Lubeck and Pisa, so I booked my flight and began planning my trip.  Now I know what you're thinking - "Pisa?  But you said you spent the weekend in Florence!".  Upon landing in Pisa, I took a bus directly to Florence where I met up with my couchsurfing host.  Couchsurfing is amazing because you get to meet real locals who love to show off their town... and you get to crash on their couch!  My host for the weekend was Elena and her family, who were all amazing and truly welcoming.

The first night I arrived, Elena picked me up from Santa Maria Novella, the main train station in Florence.  Her boyfriend drove and dropped us off at Elena's place, where after taking some time to settle in, we had dinner with her family.  Though there was a slight language barrier between her family and I, they were all very friendly and made me feel right at home.  Her mother offer me some liquor that was brewed at a monastery not too far from Firenze.

 After having a delicious meal with her family (homemade Italian pasta!) we picked up her boyfriend and they showed me Firenze from above.  We also proceeded to walk around, and  even saw a bit of the city center (where all the main tourist attractions are).  I had told Elena earlier that evening that one of my must-sees was Il Porcellino, so I was really happy when we got to see him!

Fake David

Looking down at the city center (Palazzo Vecchio on the left and Il Duomo on the right)

A really nice church


Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio

Il Porcellino
It is rumoured that if you put money in his mouth and rub his snout, you will someday return to Firenze

Rumour has it that while Michaelangelo was imprisoned, he made a self portrait of himself as seen on this brick on the outside of a church

Fountain featuring the God of Wine

My host was busy running errands on my second day in Firenze, so I explored the city center on my own.  The walk from her house to the city center wasn't too bad (about half an hour), and the weather, despite being cloudy, was still around 20 degrees celsius.  Getting lost among the hustle and bustle of the city center was truly one of the best ways to enjoy Firenze.  The crowds were manageable and the landmarks were breathtaking!  The pictures don't really do them justice.

Following the river to the city center

If you look closely, there are people standing on the concrete next to the water!  In the summer, the water levels are lower (the 'falls' aren't there) and you can actually cross the river!  It is also a popular sunbathing spot

Il Porcellino during the day (and the market behind him)

Il Duomo

Il Duomo

Giotto's Campanile

Florence Baptistry

Gold doors of Florence Baptistry

Il Duomo

Tortellini and sparkling water

Tiramisu and pistaschio gelato

Another market

Statue of Dante

Basilica of Santa Croce

Basilica of Santa Croce - courtyard

Pinocchio riding a bike!

Dante's house

Dante's church

Another church

On my third and final day in Firenze, Elena and I went on a walk, also to the city center because not much else was open on Sundays.  Later that day, she drove me to Fiesole which is just outside of Florence.  It looks down on Firenze and was absolutely breathtaking.  We ended the day with a coffee and snack before heading home for dinner.

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella - with rose garden in front

Interesting fountain

Panzerote Prosciutto

Panzerote Prosciutto

Beautifully adorned doors

White chocolate pistachio and biscuit flavoured gelato

On the way to Fiesole

Huge trek uphill

...and there's more

Monastery at the top

Monastery at the top

Coffee and pistachio cream puff at Il Barco (both miniature and delicious!)
Thanks to Elisa (Elena's friend) for the treat!

Il Barco

Il Barco

It was a great way to end the weekend.  After coffee, Elena and I went home for a last meal with the family.  We then stayed up talking until 12:30am (which was bittersweet as I had to wake up at 2:30am to catch the 3:35am bus back to Pisa airport) but it was well worth it!  Thanks to Elena for making my couchsurfing experience to Firenze an amazing one :)

I arrived at Pisa airport around 5am for my 6:50am flight, which was not enough time for me to find the Leaning Tower of Pisa (without taking a taxi) so I ended up walking around and taking pictures in/around the airport.

Bought a cappuccino from a machine!

Interesting graffiti

Popcorn machine!

Ciao Italia!

All in all, it was a great trip to Italy! I can't even begin to describe how incredible everything was: the architecture, the art, the atmosphere!  I have no doubts that I will be back one day.

That's it on my weekend in Firenze.  Until next time!  Ciao for now :)

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