Often throughout college and also while teaching in South Korea I was presented with the question "If you could go anywhere where would you go?". My go-to answer for years was Italy, I don't know what the original appeal was but it was a country that continued to stay high on my list. That's why it surprised both family, friends and myself when it wasn't included in my itinerary for this trip. I decided that I didn't have enough time for Italy, a few days wasn't enough, how was I supposed to pick just one or two cities to visit? I really wanted a month (minimum) to devote to the country, travel north to south, eat my way through the cities, meet locals and maybe pick a place to stay put for a while. I thought it'd be a tease to only stop by for a few days, but then I changed my mind.
I had already submitted myself to numerous long-distance, sometimes overnight, bus rides so why not round out the trip with a few more. I had a week in between friend meet-up commitments and deemed that a visit to Italy was in fact what I needed. From Salzburg it was an overnight bus that brought me to Florence, a city I've dreamt about since one of my good friends studied abroad in Corona (a small town near Florence) so with his seal of approval I was confident I'd have a good time. Changing my plans at nearly the last minute left me with little preparation time, but that's kind of how this whole trip was going so I didn't worry. I began sending Couchsurfing requests, skimming WikiTravel and most importantly reading blogs, gathering suggestions for the best places to eat (clearly I have my priorities straight).
I arrived bright and early, heading straight for the hostel I scoped out the night before. Thankfully I was able to get into my room immediately, where I resisted crashing for a nap, instead venturing into the city to explore. My hostel was a stones throw away from The Duomo so of course,that was the natural place to start. The lines all wrapped around the building for miles so I decided to save the tour for a later day and just enjoy the outside, easy to do as impressive as it is. I had no set destination in mind, but rather chose to follow my friends advice, "just walk", his response when I asked what I should do in Florence.
My walk eventually led me to the Piazza della Signoria, where the replica of David stands, along with a collection of other impressive pieces of artwork. I wandered the streets, admired the architecture and lusted over all the food, every corner offering one delicious food after another. It was hard to chose what to have fun lunch, but somehow I stumbled into a discrete cafe and ordered myself a veggie panini, simple and delicious. Dessert was soon to follow, which thanks to my research was some amazing gelato. I soon realized my bus sleep wasn't going to cut it so I ventured back to the hostel for a quick nap. The day ended with a walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo for an amazing view and gorgeous sunset.