Disclaimer: Florence cannot be done well in six hours, so don’t even attempt it like I did.
With three weeks left in the program, I am spending two of the three traveling. This past weekend myself and a fellow blogger decided to pack our overly tiny carry on bags (a down-side of Ryanair) and head to Pisa and Florence for the weekend. When booking, flying into the tiny airport of Pisa seemed like the perfect alternative to an exorbitantly priced flight into Florence. Hindsight: it was not the smartest.
Let me tell you a few things about Pisa. It is the typical tiny Italian town and therefore public transportation runs sporadically. Or at least that’s how it seemed when we landed at the airport and realized the bus we needed to take stopped running at 8:30pm. Flabbergasted that public transportation, on a Friday no less, would shut down so early we had to take a cab to our hostel.
After arriving at our hostel (and temporarily trying to get into an old Italian woman’s home- she had the same address as the hostel) we decided to regroup and find dinner. Naturally if the buses stop at 8:30 most of the restaurants do as well. Let me repeat it was a Friday night! So eventually we found a tiny pizzeria not too far from our hostel and sat down to have a slice of our first ever Italian pizza. It was…ok but the atmosphere made it so much better. We sat in a tiny restaurant with all of three tables and laughed and joked with the family who run the restaurant about why we would choose to leave Paris for Pisa. Believe me, we were thinking the same thing! But the next day would surely make up for the pitfalls of Pisa. After a pit stop at the leaning tower we set off on a bus to Florence.
The way public transportation ran, and the fact that our hostel was in Pisa, meant we only had six hours in Florence. I will say it again: six hours is not enough.
Florence is just indescribable. The atmosphere and the streets are unlike anything you will ever see in Paris. While the blueprint of the city and its attractions are similar to Paris (museums, bridges, art, large domes to summit etc. etc.) the lifestyle is different. Pizza and gelato stands are about as common as panini and crepe stands in Paris, and there are markets and tourist traps scattered throughout the city. But I really enjoyed how nice the people were. I constantly felt like I was being welcomed into a friend’s home, and that I was not a paying customer.
Of course the scenery was beautiful and walking around a new city and breathing in the Italian culture was wonderful, but to truly feel at home in a completely foreign place is something you can only find in Italy.
If I didn’t love Paris so much, I think I just might have put in my application to transfer to Italy! It will truly capture your heart. So do take more than six hours and do Florence and Italy the right way. It will be a trip you will remember the rest of your life. And, if you’re like me, you just might cry from how beautiful it all is.