In May of 2016 we decided to put everything on hold and take a crazy 10 day trip to Europe. The plan was to hit Scotland, England, France and Italy all in this time. Ambitious? Yes. Memorable? A thousand times yes.
It's so difficult to choose a favorite, but I'd say that Italy took me the most by surprise. I didn't expect to, but I fell in love with it.
Italy is romantic, magical, rugged.
It's been almost a year now since we were there, but I can remember it all so vividly. The plan was to hit a few of the highlights in just 5 days. Michael and I have a lot of experience with making the best of 24 hours in a city, so we figured why not hit Italy road trip style.
Here was the itinerary:
1 Night in Florence
(rent a car and drive to Tuscany)
2 Nights at a villa in Tuscany
(followed by a train ride to Rome)
2 Nights in Rome
(fly home to GA)
It was crazy, it was stressful at times, it was completely beautiful, and it was the perfect way to end our trip.
Over the next few days I'll share details and photos with you, one city at a time >>
Day One: Florence
They say that every trip has a hiccup, and Florence was ours...
Here's my recommendation for anyone who loves to travel: go ahead and expect at least one bad entire day.
On that day for us, the bad stuff just. kept. happening.
Go into it ready to laugh, and even ready at some point look at your travel partner and say..."Ok, so this is the day. Lets see if we can make some of it good!"
If you go into it with that mentality, your chances of still having a good trip are so much better.
I think we all know this, but it's worth saying out loud...
A good attitude changes everything
I wasn't able to jump right away into the good attitude...as you can see in the picture above.
To sum it all the Hiccups up quickly:
We were traveling from Paris to Florence, and by some CRAZY airport language miscommunications (even though we were there on time) we missed our flight. The next flight was 6 hours later. Too short to leave the airport (Paris is about an hour away), and TOO LONG to sit at the airport.
Flight was delayed twice. When we landed the line for a taxi was 2 hours long. So we decided to wait for a bus...which also took 2 hours.
So we didn't get into Florence until about 10:00pm. Who knew that all the restaurants in Florence closed before 10? Except one, "late night" pasta place, similar to Olive Garden, but much worse. (seriously, it was bad)
We left the next afternoon, but not before we got lost in Florence and were late to check out of our hotel, because we were lost. With no phones. And Michael got a $200 ticket. Cool.
So now for the FUN stuff
The most exciting thing was that our apartment was right beside the Duomo. We were truly in the heart of the city. The view was incredible and the winding cobblestone side streets right outside of our window were so whimsical. It made our initial travel misfortune a little less painful.
The next day in Florence was only a half day, but we made the best of it. We found an adorable little family owned restaurant called Trattoria Mario. The seating was limited, so Michael and I got seated with two other solo travelers. At first we felt awkward, but once the server came and took our order there was something so beautiful about sharing a meal with these two strangers. Our food was so homemade and delicious. Couldn't have asked for a more authentic experience.
Then we explored the town, popping in to get some gelato, some coffee, and to see the famous Ponte Vecchio--the old bridge with colorful buildings and shops built on it. The scenery and the atmosphere were incredible.
We wandered around and found an adorable little Italian man painting with watercolors, and he happened to be painting Tuscany, where we were heading that same day. So we bought a few of his small paintings to bring home with us. It was dreamy.
I really believe that every bad day has something to celebrate.
For us, a sweet little surprise came in the form of a FREE upgrade to a super fancy rental car. I was lost, running (and sweating) back to our Airbnb trying to check out on time. I didn't check out on time. BUT I was waiting on the curb for Michael to come pick me up with the car, expecting something cheap and grungy. And he drove up in this:
Looking back Florence was lovely, and even though it was our hiccup, it was so special.