Third year at St Andrews ended with spontaneous walks on the beach, picnics, and BBQ under that Scottish summer sun that never fades. I almost always wear a waterproof layer when I'm out so when I finally get the chance to let my skin breathe, it's joyous. Its like everyone is buzzing on that shared relief - to be outside, in the sun, exams behind us. Everything comes alive and it's hard not to be happy.
I was sad and reluctant to leave, but I had important business - visiting my best friend in Italy. Oh, my life!!
First off, Florence. I touched down in Rome just long enough to eat M's food and drink her wine. We left really early in the morning for our journey to Florence. With my 2 euro water bottle and an overnight bag, we boarded this sleek, modern train.
After a peaceful hour and a half we made a quick stop for a breakfast of espresso and cornetto taken standing at the bar like proper Italianos. I was so excited for some blazing summer sun that I only packed shorts and sandals. It didn't take long for me to get cold and develop blisters all over my feet. Bad idea!!
I apparently brought Scotland's dreary weather with me on our first day. But Florence didn't look so bad did it?
We wandered round and round the center of town. I was surprised by how small it seemed. Even after a day and a half I felt like we had walked around the same streets repeatedly.
We climbed the tower next to the Duomo. The climb was steep, narrow, and kind of scary. The passage really only allows a single file line so passing others going in the opposite direction on the twisty stairs freaked me out.
I admired Florence's faded yellow buildings and orange rooftops. Such a change from St Andrews.
The other part of the adventure is discovering unpleasant things you're not used to, like the constant smell of sewage. With the cold and my very blistered feet along with the constant wafts of sewage in my face, I definitely was out of my comfort zone. I blame not liking Florence mostly to extraneous circumstances, cause I'd visit it again. Although I don't like cities, I feel guilty ruling out a place entirely after only two days in it.
I had the best meal of the trip at Trattoria Mario. One of M's friends raved about his last time here many years ago... and now I totally understand.
The trattoria was small, humble (backless stools, bathroom-like tiled walls), and crowded full of Italians. I hadn't done much research about where to go in Florence so I didn't know what to expect. And wow. This is the kind of extraordinary meal that you travel to Italy for. Juicy, succulent, perfectly cooked veal chop followed by strawberries in white wine.
M took this picture of me as I tucked into the veal chop. I had no idea until she showed me later. It says everything.
My phone died on the second day so I don't have any pictures of Ponte Vecchio or the pretty streets we wandered.
Via Rosina, 2, 50123 Florence, Italy
- Far and AWAY the BEST meal I had on this trip. Out of my taste test of everyone else's lunch, which included roast chicken (best chicken skin I've ever had), steak, risotto and pork chop), M and I declared the veal chop as the best.
Via Porta Rossa, 58, 50123 Florence, Italy
- I had pizza margherita - pretty good, not great in comparison to Trattoria Mario. Kind of disappointing based off the things I'd read. Someone else got the wild boar salami pizza and that was AMAZING. SO GOOD!! Order that instead.
Piazza Danti, 19, 06123 Perugia, Italy
- I got the mushroom truffle ravioli. Pretty good, not great. It was beautiful the second day. I recommend sitting outside and people watching with vino della casa and proscuitto and buffalo mozzarella.
We stayed at Plus Florence Hostel in a private twin room. The main areas looked pretty nice for a hostel, so I was underwhelmed by the room's spartan, utilitarian feel. Not sure if I'd recommend it unless you're just looking for a place to crash. It was €34 euro each.