My experience in Florence was nothing short of extraordinary. I stayed in an endearingly unfussy bed and breakfast close to a small cafe, where I would settle daily to drink my morning coffee (*early* morning coffee, to avoid the Italian summer heat). Every morning, I would leave my temporary home with a deep breath, peering skyward though the quintessential Italian clotheslines, and marvel at how privileged I felt to be there.
I’m an aspiring writer, and I find that traveling really helps to nudge inspiration along. I had saved a few (okay, quite a few) extra dollars working a couple of jobs and doing freelance editing, and the lease at my apartment was just about up, so I put my things in storage and decided to travel for a couple of months. I intended for Italy to be one of many stops, but once I arrived, she held me like a jealous lover. I saw a couple of other countries, which I reached by train, but always came back to her.
Florence is an incredible city. When I first landed there, I was a little taken aback by an unpleasant odor springing from every corner, but eventually decided it must have been the area I was in at the time, since it didn’t persist once I ventured into the city. Like the many tourists that circulate through the city (my only complaint about the whole experience), I saw all the things you’re “supposed” to see – the Duomo, Michelangelo’s David, the Palazzo Pitti, and more. But what made me fall in love was the way the city unrolls in front of your feet like a changing maze. Every alley I strolled led to another brilliant square, with its own unique aura, architecture, restaurants, and people. I felt for days as if I never saw the same street twice (although, I obviously did).
The nightlife in Italy is intoxicating, and Florence was no exception. It’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced in America. It’s so…comfortable. Dinner is served late – around 9 or 10 at night – and then everyone spends another couple of hours just chatting, drinking wine or coffee. Children play in the squares while their parents exchange ideas about art and politics (and probably ordinary gossip, but it seems so much more magical in Italian).
While in Florence, I was able to maintain some income with my remote freelance editing jobs, which funded the purchase of probably a million glasses of wine, too many daily fresh fruit cups, painting supplies (I discovered I love to paint while in Italy), one cup of coffee for a ruddy, backpacking stranger from Boston that I now call my boyfriend, and so many more essential experiences.
If you get the chance to go to Italy, just…do it. Just go. There is no chance in hell that you will regret it.