Tourist Central: Firenze
This past weekend I ventured out of the city walls of Urbino and headed to Florence. A group of eleven of us headed to the Urbino bus stop at the (early) hour of 7:30 AM. Luckily, we were able to catch the “rapid” bus which only takes forty-five minutes to get to Pesaro, unlike the normal bus that takes an hour and fifteen minutes. Once we arrived in Pesaro we began our train adventure to Bologna and then to Florence. The total travel time was about four hours.
Apparently mapquest does not like the streets of Italy very well, and we took a minor detour when attempting to walk to our apartment that we rented for the weekend. Eventually, we gave up and took a taxi (only to realize we had been going in the completely wrong direction). However, the correct location was optimal for all the main tourist attractions. We were located between the Duomo and the Uffizi, and we were only about three blocks from the Arno River/Ponte Vecchio. The apartment was absolutely ideal for the four of us staying in it: Megan, Ashleigh, Rachel, and myself. It had a bed, a pull out bed, a kitchen, a bathroom, and most importantly, air conditioning.
After putting our bags away and getting everything situated with the landlord, Giovanni, we headed to a restaurant on the corner of our street called Alfredo’s. It seated about twenty or so, and had a decent menu. Unlike Urbino, Florence is extremely Americanized. This makes it easier to understand menus, but takes away from the Italian culture. The fact that Alfredo’s served fettuccine alfredo proves that they cater to Americans frequently. I opted for the bolognese, which was ok. It is not something I typically order so I don’t really have much to compare it to.
One thing I absolutely HATE about Italy, actually two things, is that 1) there is a cover charge of about $1.50 to $2 per person to sit down at a restaurant, and 2) water is not free. Thank you America for providing these two experiences. I feel spoiled now.
We headed to the Duomo next. It was beautiful, the intricate architecture was captivating. Megan and I shopped for a little and I picked up a few things: scarves, a “Longchamp” style bag for 5 euro, and a present for my boyfriend, Shawn. While outside the Duomo, we were ushered to stand behind a bride who was throwing her bouquet to willing recipients. That was definitely interesting and not something you see every day.
That night I had some of the most delicious pizza I have ever had. It was hot and the cheese was gooey and stringy. It was basically a plain pizza but with pesto on parts of it. It was to die for.
Our reservation to see the David was at 8:30 AM the next morning so we moped there bright and early and didn’t have to wait at all. I am so glad we went in the morning before it became extremely crowded. The statue itself is seventeen feet tall and SIX TONS. That is crazy.
On the way to the central markets after the David, we grabbed a croissant. Mine was filled with cream and was really yummy. The markets were similar to those in the United States. People tried to make you feel special by offering you “special” discounts to be their first customer. I fell in love with one bag but could not justify spending one hundred euro on it (even though it was BEAUTIFUL Italian leather). After looking at every bag the markets had to offer, I bought a beautiful white and brown leather bag that the woman originally wanted forty five euro for and I was able to buy it for thirty euro.
The Uffizi was amazing and had so many beautiful pieces of artwork to admire, but eventually I got tired of seeing so many paintings. Outside of the Uffizi (which literally let out one block from our apartment) was a little cafe where I got a mozzarella and prosciutto flatbread. It was really good, but made me really thirsty because I did not want to spend $3.50 on a tiny water bottle. No way Jose.
We wandered around the Arno River for a bit after lunch and I stopped by the hotel my Aunt Sheila had been staying at because she left me a bag of goodies to pick up. (She’s the best.)
That night my group of four met up with the seven others and we all went out to eat at Bistro 69. I had the Italian burger… I know I know, who gets a burger in Italy?! Well I did, and it was honestly one of the greatest burgers I have ever had. Following dinner, a few of us hung out on the Ponte Vecchino and watched a concert that was going on. The concert was pretty cool because the guy singing would alternate between Italian and American songs.
The next morning we made out way back to the train station and began our long trek back to Urbino.
I had an amazing time in Florence, it is definitely beautiful and there is so much culture and history in this city. But I did not enjoy how many tourists there were. The weekend trip definitely made me appreciate the city of Urbino.