What can I say about Italy that hasn’t already been said by other people? The history, the culture, the food…. Rome was the center of one of the most advanced empires in the West, and Florence was the birthplace of the movement that reclaimed that Greco-Roman tradition, springing the West out of the Middle Ages and into Modernity. I was fortunate to see both with my siblings, and it was an unforgettable experience.
Florence first. I can’t tell you why exactly we selected Florence, all i knew was I did not want to be in Rome for Easter and Florence seemed like a fun, engaging city. Shortly before we left Bath, someone told me that Florence was “one big open-air museum.” Walking around the city late our first night, not two blocks from our hotel, we stumbled upon the Duomo, the first domed cathedral built in the Renaissance. It was only fitting that we had a great meal of homemade pasta, pizza, and local Chianti after this first experience.
Our second day was marked by one disappointment. We tried to get into the Uffizi Museum, home to some of the greatest artwork from Forentine and early Italian artists, but unfortunately it was a rainy day and every other tourist in the city had the same idea. In the two hours we waited, we only moved about 30 feet in the line. We said forget it, got lunch, and regrouped. Fortunately for us, the sun came out shortly after, and so we were able to explore the Ponte Vecchio, and then hike up to the Piazza Michelangelo for some amazing, postcard-quality views. Here you can really see the history played out, as well as understand just how impressive the Duomo really is. Dinner that night was Florentine BiStecca, a local steak lightly seasoned and served rare. Honestly, one of the best steaks I’ve had in my life. We ended up at a local study abroad bar before turning in for the night.
Day two we explored the Boboli gardens. If the Piazza Michelangelo was where you get unreal views of the city, the top of the Boboli Gardens is where you can situate the city in the Tuscan countryside. After a few hours here, we grabbed pizza at “Gusta Pizza,” which was a great way to round out our last day in this famous city.
A quick stop to grab our luggage and we caught a train for Rome. The 90 minute was the perfect amount of time to rally before we had to hit Rome hard. THe way we figured it, we had about 3 hours to see as much as we could before we had to head in the for the night, then get up early the next morning for our flight home. Fortunately, our hostel manager was a huge help in this regard. He gave us directions to the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountains from our hostel, And we were able to see both in the few hours we had in “The Eternal City.”
To be honest, though, I’m hesitant to even list Rome as a city we visited. Three hours in a city like Rome is completely inadequate, just enough time to do what we did, which is run around the city and take a few pictures. Our meal that night wasn’t even that good, just some run-of-the-mill tourist trap. Rome definitely deserves at least a few days, but hey, just means I’ll have to go back, right?
After that, it was a simple matter of a 30 minute train ride and a flight to Dublin, where we grabbed a pint and a meal, cleared Customs, and then flew back to Boston. So concludes a whirlwind Easter Break voyage to Europe, where I got to explore three very unique cities with my two siblings.
To be able to have this opportunity, and to be allowed to take the time off from work, I’m eternally grateful to my parents and to my colleagues. Onto the next one!