Travel Revival (Non-COVID Related) – Florence, Italy

Upon looking back at the sad, unfinished first post I created to start on this blog, I decided I should take this down time, before the Hubs and I depart for Ecuador in December, to actually detail that trip. It was our first ever trip together way back when in 2015 before Beer Flu became a modern day plague on the world, and masks became the reality on planes. It was the first of many international excursions that we would take. We began the trip in Florence, Italy, launching my return to traveling after studying abroad in 2006, and thus explaining my blog name – Redefined Timeline – but that can be read about in my About & Contact.

The then “friend” and I met up at the airport, excited to escape normal life for a couple of weeks. This was pre-experienced traveler status, and I stupidly carted along a suitcase, instead of the much preferred, lighter backpack option. While I didn’t regret it immediately, I would hate myself for days on end after checking into the hotel in Venice. ADA rules do not apply in European towns and cities. However, lugging your annoyingly heavy wheeled-nightmare up dozens of flights of stairs (yes, I may have exaggerated that) is a distinct possibility.

But let’s rewind a little bit… The tiny airport in Florence lacked what we expected to see for security, and it was shocking to two security-conscious Americans.  We strode straight off of the plane into what appeared to be an airport terminal.  Expecting customs, or at least the European equivalent of TSA, we were confused as we simply continued striding straight out of the terminal and out to a cab stand-type area.  Where’s security…?  Once over our bewilderment, we hailed a cabbie.  The gentleman dropped us off near our hotel, but the semi-secluded entrance was a challenge to find.  Are we already in Venice? That’s what the alleyways looked like. Once inside, the unique building was interesting to navigate, very maze-like with not so level floors. Unschooled tourist syndrome rears its ugly head again. When hotels in the EU ask for the number of travelers, they want to honest amount. Having not discovered the wonders of AirBnB yet, nor knowing the hotel would charge an additional fee for additional occupants, we were forced to fork over more Euros. The unintended consequence… upgraded room.

Our room was a loft… the bed on the main level with tall windows and a huge space, and the bathroom upstairs in the loft.  The view, unfortunately, backed to an alley with a less-than-desirable scenery outside.  At least overlooking a wall allowed for sprinting sparsely-clothed upstairs to the bathroom without worrying about pulling the curtains closed.  To compensate, the parlor of the hotel overlooked Piazza della Signoria.  Free Wifi and great for people watching! Oh, the outfits people adorn and brave going out in public in.

During our stay, we found a particularly appealing restaurant. More than one meal was consumed there… Il Porcospino.  Our hearty, friendly waiter definitely had something to do with our returns… that, plus the food, mixed with the people watching, since it featured outdoor seating on a less touristy street, made it ideal to experience what Florence had to offer.  Also watching vehicles and pedestrians fight it out for who had the right-of-way was rather entertaining.  Hint:  the metal machine always wins.

We wandered the streets of Florence for hours during the day, including finding a treasure hidden amongst the dirty city blocks… Giardino di Boboli.  This park spanned eleven acres, and offered breathtaking views of Florence.  An art feature at the time of our trip consisted of numerous human-like forms in strange positions strategically placed throughout the park.  I quickly learned you are not to sit atop these statues, which came in round and block form.  While straddling one (yes, I meant that to sound dirty), a rent-a-cop yelled at me to get my tush off the rusted figure.  Granted, I could not understand but a couple of words she said, I managed to put two-and-two together to ascertain I should dismount the statue at once. Lame.

Florence is partially cut down the middle by the Arno River. We spent a fair amount of time wandering the banks of the river. Had I been better versed in travel planning, we probably would have visited more of the basilicas and cathedrals dotting Florence’s city streets. However, the strolling did result in some nifty handstand photos.

Since our hotel was nicely situated next to the Duomo, we were not forced to walk very far to see that tourist attraction. One of the most visited galleries in Italy, Galleria degli Uffizi, also made our list of things to do. Pre-COVID, the halls were packed with maskless visitors wandering the art-adorned walls.

In a country known for its wine, one cannot spend a night out without experiencing some of the fermented goodness.  We played a game of barhopping one night, which concluded in skipping down the dark streets of Florence in our booze-addled state.  A single photo commemorated that night – a fuzzy moon behind a Florence street.  Don’t expect much from drunk photographers.

Arrivederci, Florence! Next stop… Venice.

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