A few weeks ago was my fall break: no class, extra sunshine, and a week-long visit from my great boyfriend. The week topped every birthday bash thrown on My Super Sweet 16.
Isaac and Zach flew over from Des Moines on Sunday, and Emily and I deprived them of sleep right away. We jumped right into walks around Florence, good food/gelato, exploring new parks, shopping in the markets, cribbage games, making coffee, and ended the week with a trip to Cinque Terre.
Florence seemed just a little more alive and beautiful when I had someone to show around. Plus, it was Isaac. So even sitting on a bench seemed like a European-blast-and-a-half. Showing him my favorite places and introducing him to the friends I’ve made was so exciting, but we were able to explore and find so many new things together as well.
If YOU find yourself with a boyfriend/friend/mother/neighbor/dental assistant visiting you in Italy, here are some suggestions from me to you:
-Central Market. It is full of fresh fruits, veggies, breads, and treats. There are also packaged pastas, sauces, and limoncello for gifts. I always have fun grabbing some coffee and walking around.
-The Duomo. Yes, it’s pretty touristy, but the view is pretty ideal. We climbed 460 steps to get to the top, so if I’m still suggesting it, you know it’s worth it.
-Boboli Gardens. YOU MUST, OKAY? The huge gardens are complete with lemon trees, amazing views, trails through the woods, fountains, and benches for days. It was my favorite part of our week.
-Gusta Pizza. The best and cheapest pizza I’ve found. Plus it can come in the shape of a heart. So just try to debate me now.
-Cinque Terre. It’s the best day trip to take. The trip is easy**, and the views are unreal. We hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza, and the world’s greatest pesto pizza is in Vernazza. This may be my opinion but it’s the right one.
-Cascine Park. It’s the biggest park we’ve found and it is a treat from the crazy city center. There are trails and beautiful trees everywhere. On Tuesday mornings, there is a market that lines the path along the Arno. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Yes, of course that bag is not real leather, but it is 5 euro. Soooooooooo, whose side are you on anyway. Isaac and I bought some cappuccinos and walked through the whole market. It was one of my favorite mornings! He was a champ too; he oooed and aahhed at all the right necklaces and sunglasses.
-Take a breather. There are a million things to see and it’s so fun to get up early and have a full day, but I definitely loved the time we just chilled out for a bit too. The four of us always had a good homemade breakfast in the morning to sit and enjoy each other. And we took one rainy morning to watch Pitch Perfect and play some cards, and it was just as enjoyable as running through the streets of Flo like a couple’a’kids.
**I mean, sure, we maybe missed our transfer and got stuck in Pisa for 3 hours, but USUALLY it’s a breeze. We camped out at a coffee shop and played some cribbage and then got milkshakes for the train ride. Dried those tears right up.
The week was an absolute blessing. It is still a little surreal we were able to hang out in Italy. Very thankful. Here are some pictures to prove I’m not lying about this whole thing.