The Italy Series: Arriving in Florence

November 2009

I was sad to leave Rome. I fell in love with the city and found routine, even a few friends. And even now, almost four years later, I perk up at the opportunity to talk about it, dream about it, and get myself back there.

The ride to Florence started my love-affair with train travel. It’s so calm, easy, and dare I say almost romantic. I bought my ticket from the fool-proof kiosks then proceeded to the platform. After finding myself at the wrong one I rushed on to the correct platform and arrived breathless and settled into my seat.

The next four or so hours were pure bliss. I wrote in my journal and gazed out the window experiencing such wonder with every passing village and town. Arriving at Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station broke that peace, if just for a moment. A group of teenage boys found opportunity to test out their English yelling out to me as I tried to disembark. I quickened my pace and they quickened their pursuit before I turned a corner and found myself alone. The rain started as I found my way to the very basic Hotel Lorena directly across from the Medici Chapel.

I rested for a minute, collecting my thoughts, my money and a map. I end up at the Duomo, of course because really, how can you not? It’s truly more magnificent than in any photos you stumble upon and it seems natural to take a seat with everyone else on the steps. It was late Sunday afternoon at this point and most restaurants seemed to be closed. I found a cart serving steaming¬†bollito (boiled beef) sandwiches and rushed over before the rain hit. With every topping offered I exclaimed si By the time I handed over my 3 euros or so the sandwich was probably a pound, easy.¬† I leaned against a pillar of a building across the way and smiled at myself having realized that I found the restaurant with the most perfect view in Florence. It was, to this day, one of the most amazing foods I’ve ever experienced. While I can’t find information about the specific cart, this spot inside the Mercato Centrale was also divine (Of course I had to have another bollito before I left).

I arrived at the Ponte Vecchio as darkness and rain fell. Even still, it was sublimely beautiful. I wandered across and an older woman asked if I’d like her to take my picture seeing as I was alone. She had a daughter my age back home…as was the source of much kindness I received during my travels.

 

See the rest of my Italy Series posts here.

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