Of course, without being hung up on the mistakes I made, Italy was a great trip.
I always dreamed that my first Euro-trip would be across Europe in a span of a few weeks…but this was not the case. Carl had just started a new job and wanted to keep his vacation short but with a desire to finally step foot in Europe this year, I sucked it up and thought of how I can pack a trip to Italy in 1 week. I studied Rick Steves’ guide to Italy religiously and this is how we did it.
Day 1: On our way from Rome airport to Florence, we had 2 detours we could’ve taken. One was to visit The Mall (Prada outlet!!) or beautiful Siena was a highly recommend stop. Following the advice of my friends, I opted for Siena.The drive from the Rome airport to Siena was about 3.5 hours and there were a few gas stations along the way for us to hydrate.When we arrived we parked for free on a small street by one of the hotels and walked into the walled city. Unfortunately by the time we got into Siena, it was around 4pm and their attractions were closing. We did get to sneak into the Siena Cathedral before they closed and admired the intricate designs, something neither of us had seen before. It finally hit us that we were in Italy and we got extremely excited. We ohh’d and ahh’d for 30 minutes. By the time we walked through the boutique shops, had my 1st gelato and sat around the piazza, it was time to go. The first few nights we stayed at Fattoria Degli Usignoli in the very small region of Reggelleo hidden in the rolling hills of Tuscany. The view was breath taking, the rooms average but a good size though we soon found the inconvenience of traveling into Florence. That night we found a local pizza place and had authentic Italian pizza for the first time. How do we know it’s authentic? No one spoke English.
Day 2: From the Fattoria Degli Usignoli to Florence took a 15 minute windy drive to the train station and a 45 minute train ride into Florence. Weeks before we even got to Florence, we were told to pre-book our museum visits and the closer we got to the trip, the lazier I was to plan too far ahead. To eliminate that headache cost us 75 euros to get the Firenze card. This card helped us bypass some lines and gave us admission into most of the attractions Florence had to offer. It turned out though, that the lines were not as long as it usually was (we went in May) and the card really only helped us bypass maybe 3 long lines. The majority of our first day revolved around the Duomo. Lining up. Climbing towers. That’s what we did all day but it was beautiful. For 1st time visitors to Italy, Florence is a must. But the Firenze card obviously doesn’t get you to bypass lines for dinner so we didn’t quite get the food we wanted. This also became the first night of many that we missed our train. While we made it to our train, we sat towards the last carriage and little did we know, it was detached from the first. We sat there until 10 minutes after the departure time to find out and by then it was too late. The last train had left and we search frantically for the next mode of transportation home. We ran into a friendly security guard that spoke little English and we managed to figure out there would be a bus in 2 hours at 12:45 am that would take us back. Florence at night can be a little intimidating at the train station and we almost watched a violent fight break out but we made it back safely though exhausted.
Day 3: It was our last day in Florence and there was still plenty left to see. We took a map and circled out all the places we had left to go. First stop, we went to see the Statue of David at the Accademia Gallery. Without a single artistic bone in our body, we were still able to admire the hard work of Michaelangelo. Since we were in the area and with the Firenze card, we also stopped by the National Archaeological Museum of Florence. It’s worth a visit if you’re already in the area. As we walked back towards the core of Florence, we stopped by a place to eat a sandwich, a sandwich so good that I can still taste today. Loaded with prosciutto, stracchino cheese and heavy truffle cream. We then made our way to the Uffizi Gallery where many famous art pieces are hosted. Uffizi Gallery was a bit too intimating for us with 2 stories and multiple rooms of art that we didn’t know how to appreciate. If you’re like us, I highly recommend joining a small tour to fully comprehend these historical pieces of art. After spending 2 hours in the Uffizi Gallery, we headed off for dinner at the best restaurant we had in Italy. I found this place after watching Rick Steves’ video here called antico ristoro di cambi. I have never had a steak so juicy and perfectly cooked. Our waiter had recommended 1.5kg to be shared but in our head we thought it’d be too much so we opted for 1kg, boy were we wrong. If we had a do-over, I think Carl and I would’ve ordered a 2kg steak. By now we were exhausted and debated if we should climb up the mountain towards Piazza Michaelangelo. Carl insisted for us to go and I’m so glad he did. The view was indescribable and we were lucky enough to catch this beautiful sunset. All in all, this was one of the best days of our trip.
More to come: Part 2: Pisa and Rome