As part of the Summer in Rome program, we have a weekend in Florence. Remember when I said that Rome was a beautiful city? Well, Florence is twice as beautiful; it’s gorgeous. A weekend wasn’t enough in Florence, so it’s definitely on my list of places to come back.
On Day One, we took an early train from Rome to Florence in the morning for an hour and a half. Once we were in Florence, we dropped our bags in the Hotel Maxim, and went to the Uffizi Gallery Museum. This is one of the most important Italian museums, which holds collections particularly from the Italian Renaissance. For someone that has taken three art history classes, it was very fascinating to physically see all of the artwork that I’ve studied for the past three years at Drexel. While we waited in line at the Uffizi, there were some men dressed as statues, just as they do in New York City with the Statue of Liberty. One of them followed me around the line asking me to give him a kiss on the cheek while I screamed repeatedly “Don’t touch me!”. Even though I didn’t like the experience, my group thought it was hilarious and took a bunch of snapchats. I’m telling this story because in Italy is very common to be harassed by people on the street. This can happen from people selling water, selfie sticks, bracelets, or just begging for money. They get in your personal space, and most times it can get very uncomfortable. I guess this is part of the culture shock I’ve experienced in Italy.
June 24th is a holiday in Florence where they celebrate the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, Florence patron saint who’s considered as the “symbol of moral rectitude and political correctness”. For centuries they have celebrated this day with parades, calcio stork (soccer), and fireworks. After the Uffizi, some of us went to the Ponte Vecchio bridge, where we watched the sunset and fireworks that ended the night. It was very special for me to celebrate this holiday because in Puerto Rico (where I’m from) we also celebrate St. John the Baptist in slightly different way. Puerto Ricans spend June 23rd all day at the beach, and at 12:00am of June 24 everybody runs to the cold water and throws themselves backwards seven times to get rid of bad luck. I may have not spent this day at the beach, but I saw cool fireworks and a breathtaking sunset.
On our second day in Florence, I woke up early and went to explore the non-touristy area. It didn’t take me long to get lost and end up hiking a hill at noon. Even though it was hot with a burning sun, I don’t regret it at all because I had an amazing view of Florence. After I found my way back, I met with some friends. It was nice to see familiar faces. While wandering around, we saw a lot of people standing in a long line for a panini place. We decided to wait in the 30 minute line, and ended up eating THE BEST PANINIS ever. The place is called All’Antico Vinaio, and they offered huge paninis for only 5 euros. We also went to the leather market, where we bargained for some “real leather” bags. To be honest, we are still debating if the leather is real or not, but that’s what you get when you buy at places like this. To end our day, we went to a market, got some wine, and climbed the very long hill to the Michelangelo steps to watch the sunset. Hear me out, when I say that if you ever go to Florence you have to come here and watch the sunset, you really do because it’s unbelievable.
On the last day, we went to the Salvatore Ferragamo museum, ate paninis from All’Antico Vinaio again, and took the rest of the day to chill until it was time to head back to Rome. There’s so much in Florence that I wasn’t able to see, so I definitely have to come back at some point. For now, I can say that it’s my favorite city in Italy. It was a dream, and I felt like I was in a movie the whole time.