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Firenze! July 28, 2010

Posted by J.T. Foust in Travel Log.
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This past weekend, I had the huge fortune to return to Florence! I was able to travel there with my family the summer before starting at Tech. That’s actually where I was during PS signing day (explains why I’m not in any of the signing day photos). When I went a few years ago, it was part of the family whirlwind trip through the major cities of Italy: Rome, Florence, and Venice. I actually didn’t enjoy Rome as much as I thought I would, in spite of being very interested ancient Greek and Roman history. But from the second I set foot in Florence, my entire demeanor changed and I had an awesome time! It was easily my favorite of any city I’d ever been to.

So, when I returned to Florence, I’d already done a lot of the super touristy things and was able to experience new activities and aspects of a Florentine lifestyle. However well I was acquainted with the city, there were still plenty of pleasant surprises. For instance, upon getting off the train, I went straight to pay homage to the mammoth example of Renaissance architecture and engineering at its peak, the Duomo of Florence. After gawking once again at the sheer size and beauty of the third largest nave in christendom, I headed off toward the hotel.

I had gotten extremely lucky in booking a hotel about half a block from the very central Piazza Del Duomo with a rooftop terrace with an excellent view of the church and surrounding area. Upon checking in, I was told that a large group had accidentally not booked enough rooms, and the hotel had given away my room. I was confused as to why the clerk was smiling while she said this and she informed me that I had therefore been upgraded to an apartment flat less than a block away. So it turns out that, by a stroke of luck, I got to experience Florence from a city apartment (with air conditioning!). I spent the rest of the day visiting all the must sees: the Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio, the leather markets, and several gelaterias. I even was allowed into a very classy wine bar and restaurant right on the Arno! All in all, a very successful day.

The next day was spent hiking to all 5 of the Cinque Terre. It was an absolutely amazing hike. It was one of the most scenic and picturesque places I’ve ever seen! After passing through the first couple of towns (Riomaggiore and Manarola), we stopped for lunch in Corniglia. After that point, the trail became significantly more difficult and the day got much hotter. We were getting quite the work out until we came across the so called centerpiece of the Cinque Terre, Vernazza. I actually didn’t like it all that much as it was very crowded and noisy, whereas the others had been very quiet, calm, and the essence of peacefulness. So we pressed on to the last of the 5, Monterosso al Mare, and immediately bought bathing suits, changed, and jumped into the Mediterranean Sea at one of the many beaches. It was an absolutely perfect end to an incredible day!

Because of experiences such as these, Florence remains my all-time favorite city. I hope and expect to return, hopefully for a more extended period, and enjoy life the Florentine way.

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