Travel Tales from Florence, Italy

I arrived early in the morning, after a long horrible train journey from Munich, Germany. Seriously, don’t you dare thinking about the classic, pretty, fancy, and comfy European trains. No, it’s not like that. Okay, maybe tourist trains or scenic trains look like that, but regular trains are not!

I sat in a room/compartment for 6 people, 3 by 3 face to face. Worried the smell is gonna annoyed some people, I ate my dinner (a pack of sushi I bought earlier at Munchen Hbf), outside the toilet. It was a night journey, about 9 hours ride. I was the only girl in that compartment, the big guy sitting in front of me was very smelly and noisy. The light was on until about 2 AM in there morning before somebody in the compartment smart enough to finally turned it off and I finally could sleep. I was wrapped up in my scarf, neck pillow, eye mask, and any other things you could imagine to make people more comfortable. Those men were probably think I’m mental or something, but I didn’t really care anyway.

I remember woke up early in the morning (probably around 4 AM), got out of my compartment, looked outside the window, into the dark, quiet, Italian night. The wind breeze slipped through an open window and blew my face. An Italian man from our compartment was also there. I remember asking him where we were, he answered with broken English that we’re in Bologna. Realising that it’s just a couple hoursΒ until the train pulled into a platform at Firenze S.M.N Station, I got my excitement back and couldn’t go back to sleep.

The train arrived in Florence around 6 in the morning and I went straight to my hostel. The room of course wasn’t ready until late noon, so I got quite a lot of time to kill. I hadn’t got any plan yet for Florence and didn’t even have a bucket list by then.Β I was too busy researching for another city, bigger city, like London and Paris. To be honest, Florence was the least city I was excited about. It stayed on my list just because I love Dan Brown novel, Inferno, and it seems to be a beautiful city. The other reason is because it’s not too far from Pisa. So I thought why not making it my base for a few days?

I remember opened my laptop that morning in the hostel lobby, did a little research, but decided it wasn’t help and I just wasted my time. I knew really little about this city, but I already knew that Florence is quite small and the best way to explore the city is by foot. So I just grabbed a map from the hostel reception, went out, and wandered around the city.

I’d just walked a few meters from my hostel when I found a Gelateria. Eating a gelato was literary the first thing I did when exploring Florence, what a classic story! I opted for yogurt and mix berry gelato for breakfast. Gelato in one hand and a map in the other, wandering the street of pretty Florence. I couldn’t be happier, I felt like a proper wanderer!

First place I visited was the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore a.k.a Il Duomo di Firenze (Florence Duomo). It’s the main church in Florence with the massive dome on top of it. Very beautiful, but also very hard to get pictured because it’s a huge building with quite narrow streets surrounding it. I came in to the church. The dome looks magnificent from the inside, it is fully painted with “Last Judgement” paintings by Giorgio Vasari and the other guy. I’m so impressed!

After a short visit to the Duomo, I walked pass Piazza della Signoria and went inside the Palazzo Vecchio. Found quite a lot of 18+ statues, if you know what I mean. Inside Palazzo Vecchio, an old Chinese woman asked me (with a body language) to take her picture with a super cute angel statue, I said yes, and took her photo. And then the woman’s friend also gave me her camera, and the other, and the other, and the other. Felt like I took the picture for all gang members, eh?

After that, I walked toward the river, called Fiume Arno. Some painters were painting alongside the river. They’re all facing the same direction, so I’m pretty sure they’re all painting the same object, the most famous bridge in all Florence, Ponte Vecchio. It’s a Medieval closed-type bridge with shops all along the bridge, most of them are jewellery, art, and souvenir shops.

I crossed the river by the bridge, headed west to Piazzale Michelangelo, a square in the hill with panoramic view of Florence. At first I wasn’t sure to climb the hill that day because I was so tired after that worst train journey, and after hours of walking around. But I was already there and I did’t want to waste that long walk I just did, so I decided to walk up the hill. I arrived on top of the hill at noon, probably around 12 in the afternoon, because I heard the all the bells rang from every church all across the city. It’s an amazing feeling though, seeing a jaw-dropping view of Florence, with the bells rang from every corner. I was so lucky to arrived just in time to experienced that!

I spent a lot of time in that hill before went down and made my way back to the hostel. Of course I needed to treat myself another gelato after climbed up the hill. This time I stopped at a Gelateria near Ponte Vecchio, bought a ridiculous combination of caramel, mango, and peach gelato as my lunch.

Thankfully, my room was ready when I arrived back at the hostel. Finally got a shower after probably a day or something. A little bit gross, I know. LOL! I met my roommates that afternoon. Mila from Canada and Hanna from Korea, both were traveling solo just like me. They’re both super nice, we became friends real quick. Mila stuck with me until Rome, because apparently she left Florence in the same day as me, rode the same exact train to Rome and booked the same exact hostel in Rome. Triple coincidences!

We decided to have dinner together and browsed for some popular restaurants in the city. We decided to go to a place called Gusta Pizza to taste the authentic Italian pizza. We’re a little bit lost on the mission to find that pizza restaurant. But finally found it in a corner of the street, with the help from Hanna’s Google Map. That’s a big moment, actually, because I just found out that we can use the Google Map without Internet connection. How can I not know about this before?! I got lost the whole time for the first 2 weeks of my travel, for God’s sake!

Okay, back to the topic. We sat at a big round table inside the Gusta Pizza, with a lady from the UK and her husband. Apparently they just got married and was on their honeymoon in Italy. We ate and chatted together. She just couldn’t believe it when we told her that we all three just met that day at the hostel, and we are from three different countries across the globe, and speak three different languages, and we were all traveling by ourselves. Aha!

By the way, I didn’t finish the pizza, I just didn’t really like it. I blame Pizza Hut and Dominos for that!Β We didn’t do much after that, we were strolling around and went back to the hostel. I passed out really quick that night. And that was it! A day of my travel life.

Florence map
This is the actual map I was using when roaming around Florence.
Yogurt and mix berry gelato. First gelato I ate in Italy.
Duomo 3
Florence Duomo with its huge dome.
Florence Duomo from another angle.
Duomo 4
The “Last Judgement” paintings at inside the Duomo’s dome.
Angel statue
The cute angel statue the Chinese women took picture with.
Fountain of Neptune
The Fountain of Neptune at Piazza della Signoria. It’s a cool fountain though.
Replica of “David” Statue by Michelagelo, outside Palazzo Vecchio.
Ponte Vecchio
Painting by the riverside, facing Ponte Vecchio.
piazzale micheangelo
Panoramic view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.
Michelangelo statue on top of Piazzale Michelangelo.
Walking down the hill. It’s a long way down, isn’t it? You can’t even see the bottom.
Caramel, mango, and peach gelato.

Moral of the story:

  1. Behind a bunch of pretty travel photos from Instagram, shit happens. Traveling is not always fun, sometimes you experience the worst.
  2. Don’t let negativity affect you and ruin your day. Face it and then move on. New adventure is waiting for you and the last thing you’ll need is a bad mood.
  3. Don’t expect too much from a destination, and you might be surprised! I arrange for 2 days in Florence and 5 days in Rome. I hope I could switch it off.
  4. We can use Google Map without Internet connection. Biggest lesson ever! Period.

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  1. I remember when I was for the first time in Florence. I was amazed by the renaissance architecture and I kept walking around speechless. Some places never die. I hope that mass tourism hadn’t affected too much this beautiful town.

    1. Hi Iuliana! Yes, I also just loveee walking around Florence to be amazed by its building and art! No I don’t think it affects too much, it’s still beautiful the last time I was there πŸ˜€

  2. Sorry to hear your train trip wasn’t so pleasant. Public transit isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Great photo of the gelato though! If you haven’t tried it, is a pretty great free offline map app that uses Google maps as a base. We’ve used it for 2 years in Europe and couldn’t get around without it. Happy travels! πŸ˜‰

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for letting me know about that app. Will definitely download it and try it πŸ˜€

  3. I’ve been to Italy twice but never to Florence. I think I should add it to my list! I know it has so much to offer! Great article.

  4. I also visited Florence on my Italy trip, mostly because my boyfriend’s brother studied abroad there. I had heard it was mostly art museums and galleries, which I tried to avoid on my trek abroad, but the entire city of Florence was like a beautiful painting with plenty to do! With so many colleges there and students studying abroad, there was always something to do at night. I also am a huge fan of Dan Brown and followed Robert Langdon’s entire journey through Florence, much to the dismay of my boyfriend as I dragged him along haha. I wish I had more than 2 days in this cool little Italian city, too!

    1. Hey Lyssie! Looks like we have a lot of similarities! I don’t really like museums and galleries as well, and didn’t go in any of them in Florence. Haha. Inferno movie is coming out in October! I can’t wait to see that and bring back my memories πŸ˜€

  5. How gorgeous! I love the painting in the dome of the Florence Duomo. The food also looks really delicious. I’m glad your travel misadventures worked out in the end and using Google maps without Wifi has definitely saved me before!

  6. Lovely photos! The communal table at the pizzeria seems fairly common in Italy– I’ve seen it in Naples and Rome as well. It’s always lucky when you’re seated next to friendly people who actually want to chat πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Erica! I’m totally agree with you. It’s one thing I love about travel, meeting new people and share stories with people you meet along the way πŸ˜€

  7. Well I’m glad you ended up loving Florence, and having a great experience. It’s an incredible city, and of course you can’t go wrong with some gelato πŸ™‚ What train did you take? And do you still keep in touch with the girls you met in the hostel? It’s one of my favorite things about traveling πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Jessica! I think I took a German train, City Night Line, if I’m not mistaken. Yeah, I still keep in touch with some of them, by Facebook, obviously. Hahaha. That’s also one of my favourite thing about traveling! πŸ˜€

  8. I am glade you survive with train journey but some people are annoying and it’s not in your hand. I never been to Italy but I want to visit it one day. I love the architecture in the Florence. I love to try Italian looks tempting.

    1. Hi Urvi! Yes I think you should visit it someday and yes Italian gelato taste as good as it looks! I ate tons of them when I was in Italy πŸ˜€

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