It's been a week since I left for my trip, and so much has happened. Between trying to explore to wedding festivities, being in Florence was an incredibly fulfilling and tiring time. I didn't spend much time doing the overly touristy shenanigans, and quite frankly, I'm okay with that.
Day 1: Traveling
Because I am a post-grad student on a budget and still paying student loans for the rest of my life, I booked a series of flights to get maximize my money as best as possible, which meant multiple flights and layovers for me. From the time I left Boston at 2:35 PM on Friday, I did not arrive to Florence until Saturday roughly 3 PM. I went from BOS-KEF-CDG-FLR. What a journey. When I finally reached my hotel, I was exhausted.
My parents and I had a suite over at Hotel Berchielli between Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita. I had the room to myself as my family had not yet arrived. I barely slept in between flights in fear of missing my next flight, and sleeping on the plane was difficult, too. Note to self: bring some diphenhydramine (that's Benadryl for all of you folks who didn't study drugs like me) to pass out on the plane next time.
Day 2: Mama's 50th Birthday Celebration
In the AM, the #finallylevy crew went to the Gardens, whereas I decided to go on a street art scavenger hunt. I noticed on my walk to the hotel that there are a few artists that pop up on many different locations, and I started seeing a trend in the art style - I was hoping that if I captured enough of the art on the streets, I could put together the story these artists were trying to tell. There will be a post dedicated to the street art alone.
I grabbed breakfast at Caffe ChiaroScuro, where I had a honey-jam filled croissant and a cappuccino, and oh my goodness, that was quite possibly the best cappuccino I've ever had. I've been in Italy for a week now, and I haven't found anywhere that compares. The foam was the perfect mixture of light and fluffy, very enjoyable.
After some more exploring and street art hunting, I stopped into Gelateria Perchè No! I was sitting on the bench and eating my gelato, and I thought to myself - wow, it is funny how in movies and cartoons, it is always showing the scoops of ice cream falling to the ground, and yet that has never happened to me. Sure enough, at that exact moment when I was thinking this thought and licking my gelato, the top of my cone slipped over and fell. Never say never, right?
I stopped into Oibò to grab a frozen chocolate (holy hell, that was a decadent drink that I was not expecting. They probably thought I was a dumb American when I ordered that) and then rushed over to SoulSpace for a spa afternoon with my sister and her friends. It was my first time having a true spa experience, where we went into a sauna, enjoyed the warm spa pool, and had relaxing chairs to lay on in between our massages. I got a massage and facial, and I didn't realize how much I needed that until I actually went through with it. I should treat myself more often!
My family arrived to the city not too long after the spa extravaganza, so I met them over at the hotel, and my younger cousin and I went out to grab a light bite of gnocchi and salumi e formaggi before my mom's birthday celebration over at Bar Due Ponti.
We went to La Buchetta. It was a huge group of almost sixteen of us going out to eat, and we all had a great time. A three-course meal beginning with Salumi e Formaggi, moving onto various pastas, and ending with the best Steak Florentine. I also threw back shots with my family. I am pretty sure my aunt thinks I am an alcoholic now. (I'm not, I can just hold my liquor is all...)
The younger crew moved onto drinks at Locale and we asked for a gin-based bramble, and YUM that was good. There were some rum tiki drinks that were being made as well, I was jealous of that. After the crew started to fizzle due to a long day of drinking, we headed back around midnight and I dropped off my cousin at the hotel and met up with Niccolo.
Who is Niccolo? He is from Florence and went to school in Boston and lived there for 8 years. And I never had the opportunity to get to know him. He took me to Santo Spirito, and it was out of control. There were so many people drinking publicly and sitting on the steps of the church. It sure was a hoppin' spot for locals. We grabbed two gin and tonics, and sat on the steps ourselves and got to know each other. We were out until almost 4 AM talking all night. To be honest, I am really upset that I didn't get to know him during his time in Boston. Talk about a missed connection.
Day 3: Rehearsal Night
I woke up late. Not surprising. I meant to wake up early to go to Piazzale Michelangelo and take a shot of Duomo and the rest of the city with the sunrise... but that's what happens when I am out until 4 AM. I felt bad because I meant to do that with my cousin, oops. Instead, at 10 AM, the sister, mom, and friends went to Maniboo to get our nails done for the wedding. That was the longest I've ever done a gel mani/pedi, because I didn't leave until almost 2 PM. I ran over to All'Antico Vinaio and grabbed the summer sandwich (prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil) - that was SO YUM. The crunch of the bread was all around perfect.
Then a quick change and wedding rehearsal later, we were at Continentale and were with the wedding guests for a welcome reception at La Terrazza - the rooftop bar. I've gotten to know my sister's friend Xavier on a more personal level, and we were making jokes about being single and watching the couples surrounding us. Post-drinks, he and I went to dinner at Nella and got a bruschetta (WOW they're fresh here), ragu & walnut sauce ravioli, and porkchops with buttered spinach. Then we scooped up my cousin and grabbed gelato over at Gelateria La Carraia and called it a night.
Day 4: #FinallyLevy
I was the PIC for the wedding, and DAMN that was stressful. All in all, the wedding went well. Shout-out to Conseula for hair and makeup, Stefano for photography and Chiara for wedding planning and doing such an amazing job.
I cried while getting my makeup done and my sister walked out with her hair, makeup and dress. I cried when Alex started saying his vows to my sister. I cried when my sister and Alex surprised my parents with a first dance (Julie and Alex got married on our parent's wedding anniversary because my parents never had a wedding). Overall, I cried a lot, and forced a lot of people to dance. The wedding was at Castello di Vincigliata. That's right, my sister got married in a castle.
Day 5: Wine Tasting with the Mr. and Mrs.
After breakfast at the hotel, the #FinallyLevy crew went to Tentuta La Borriana for a wine tasting with the newlyweds. We ate so much food. Pasta on pasta on pizza on pizza on pizza on pizza. I'm going to need to do some serious Orange Theory Fitness and Turnstyle Cycle when I get back to Boston.
We said our goodbyes at the plaza as some people were leaving after the tasting. I went to shop at Desigual and got a light scarf and reversible wristlet, then relaxed and packed for the evening and said my goodbye's to my parents. The remainder of the #FinallyLevy group planned to meet up for gelato on our last night together. I grabbed a panini over at Gustopanino - I got the tomato, mozzarella, pesto and turkey sandwich and that pesto was so fresh! If you know me, you know I am on a pesto-making kick at home, so I appreciate pesto so so so so much. Then we all got gelato at Gelateria Santa Trinita - we chose this location because they have sesame gelato and that was flavorful. Not too rich in sesame, and not too thick. It was some great gelato.
Florence has its charm. It is bustling and stylish, but calms down in the evening. Florence, thanks for having me.