Day 17: The bus ride to Florence was long and uncomfortable. There was zero leg room whatsoever!! Granted, things could’ve been a lot worse, but I was exhausted and there was no room to even sit comfortably, let alone sleep! We made a quick stop for lunch in Milan, but we were on the road again within 90 minutes. Once we got to Florence, we had some time to settle into our rooms before going on a short walk to dinner at the Central Market. After dinner and my 2nd cup of gelato, we walked a little further to a touristy bar where a bunch of Americans were celebrating July 4th. Myself and a few others were too tired to stay and celebrate, so we walked back to the hostel. After learning all about Italy for 4 years, I couldn’t believe I was finally there!
Day 18: Today was our guided walking tour. During it, we saw Dante Alighieri’s old house, Ponte Vecchio, and a replica of the Statue of David. The tour dropped us off at Santa Croce, and we walked to a nearby handmade leather shop. I learned that the only reliable way to tell the difference between real and fake leather is by looking for imperfections. Real leather products will look slightly different from each other! After making unnecessary leather purchases (when in Italy, right??), we ate lunch in Palazzo Vecchio, got more gelato, and went back to the hostel. Next was the Tuscan wine tasting!! It actually took place at a family’s house. They provided us with TONS of homemade pasta with pesto, bread with olive oil, a meat and cheese platter, and a few bottles of each of their wines, so we could taste them all!
We obviously had the opportunity to purchase all of our favorites, so I brought a bottle of wine and a container of olive oil back to America. (Ask me about how I only got to drink one glass of the wine :/ ) After the wine tasting, we were all a bit tipsy (oops). We went back to the hostel and watched the sunset over Florence from the roof. It’s moments like these that make me realize just how incredible my life is!
Day 19: Today we went to Cinque Terre! Cinque Terre is made up of five little fishing villages, and they’re all extremely popular tourist spots in Italy. The most recognizable one is probably this one. I’ve seen a bunch of variations of this picture all over Pinterest. This was our first stop. In an effort to make it to as many as possible, the first two stops were super quick. Our third stop was lunch. The restaurant we went to, nobody spoke a word of English, so that was quite the experience. The food was delicious, and we had an outstanding view!! Getting there took a little bit of effort. It was located in this back alleyway with tons of steps, all of them uneven, but it was totally worth the effort. After lunch, we almost missed the train to the next village, but we made it just in time. We had the most time at our final stop, and the weather was scorching, so we all went for a dip in the ocean. Only one complaint: there was no sand. Just rocks. Turns out walking on hot rocks hurts A LOT more than walking on hot sand. After a long day of fun in the sun, we went back to the hostel for dinner, and took a dip in the pool to take advantage of the beautiful weather and our last night in Italy.
Pro tip: eat alllll the gelato, I promise you won’t regret it, but you’ll miss it dearly when you leave!