Italian views from our train ride.

Our first train ride to Florence was easy. We took a direct train to Florence and spent about 3 hours traveling. We got off the train and I had the chance to practice my Italian. We couldn’t find a place to catch a bus or metro to where our hostel was. Sophia figured out that we needed to take a bus but the problem was we didn’t know where we could get our bus tickets. We were used to going to a machine where we could buy our day passes, but there was none in sight at the train station. I picked up my translation book and asked the guy in a small bodega where I could buy a pair of bus tickets. “Dove posso acquistare biglietti di autobus.” Fortunately, he spoke English and he happened to sell bus tickets.



Train travels with Sophia

Tip: If you don’t see a ticket machine or box office in sight, try the local bodega guy. They sell bus tickets most of the time.

We caught the bus just outside the station and it took us about eight minutes to get to our stop and walk a block to our hostel. I have to say I definitely recommend the hostel we stayed in. It was clean, friendly staff, wifi and it was themed! We had Superman in our room. Once we got settled we headed out to get some food because again we hadn’t eaten in a long time. We yelped and decided on risking a pizza place. It wasn’t too bad. Their pizza slices were squared and thick! I ordered pepperoni on mine and it was probably the spiciest pepperoni I ever had. The pizza was still delicious! Afterwards, we looked for a nearby marketplace to buy some cheese and prosciutto with wine. Sophia and I decided we wanted to have all of this on the Ponte Vecchio while the sun was still out. Unfortunately, the sunset was close and we started running to the bridge. We were literally chasing the sun (like the song: Chasing the Sun – The Wanted). Finally, we made it.

Ponte Vecchio:

Sunsets on the Ponte Vecchio

When we got there it didn’t seem like a bridge. This was probably because it was very wide and it just seemed like another street. What you couldn’t miss was the sunset we caught. Wow, what a sight. Some cool things we saw on the bridge walls were names of couples and quotes that were written in sharpie. I guess this was Florence’s Paris lock bridge. We then went to one side of the bridge and opened our wine and ate our prosciutto and cheese. Here is when I learned to appreciate a simple food like this. The pairing of the wine with the meat and cheese was just unlike any other. We had a mini photo shoot and then went on our way back to the hostel after finishing a whole bottle.


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“Life’s too short, have three scoops.” Outside the Duomo.


We stopped by the Duomo to eat some Don Nino gelato and listened to some beautiful Italian street music. This was something magnificent. My gelato was delicious, as always, and the music made me feel like I was in the Italy I dreamt of for many years. I thought of that scene in “Lady and the Tramp” when Lady and the Tramp are eating their spaghetti and the chef is singing to them. Afterwards, we walked back to our room and slept for a good eight hours.

Day 2

The Cathedral

Sophia and I woke up around 8:30 am to get dressed quickly and try to see Michelangelo’s David statue. Unfortunately, when we got there to get in line we were told it was a 3 hour wait time. Because of our time limitations (we only had one day in Florence) we had to abandon our place and try for the Duomo. I bought our tickets the night before so that we were guaranteed a spot, but we got on the wrong line at first. Apparently, once we got our ticket we were supposed to try to schedule a designated time to enter the Duomo and they were booked until the next day. We had a train to catch in the afternoon, so it made it impossible. The ticket still gave us access to the cathedral, bell tower, and Duomo museum. So we got in line to enter the Cathedral first, but when we got to the front they wouldn’t let me in. I was wearing jean shorts and a strappy shirt. They said I could only go in if my arms and legs were covered! Talk about old school. I stormed off walking to our hostel. It wasn’t a great morning for me. I changed to more appropriate clothing and we walked back.

We got distracted by a shop on the street near the Duomo and spent a good hour and a half trying on the whole store and buying some stuff. Talk about retail therapy. I felt much better and we got to go in the Duomo.

The Duomo:

Had to take a pic for my sisters back in Jersey <3.

Finally, we got to enter the cathedral. We were able to see the Duomo from the cathedral. It was basically another section of the church attached that had exclusive access. Everything was made of marble: the building and the floors. I was some OPA love (Omega Phi Alpha)! I lit a candle and said a prayer. We then proceeded to below the cathedral and visit the catacombs. It was a little creepy, but still, it was very informational about the history of the Duomo. We then went to the bell tower.

We probably reached about 200 steps in this pic.

I have to share that before we went on this trip and Sophia told me she wanted to go up the Duomo I did a little research. It has 463 steps! The bell tower is about a little less with 414 steps. I made sure I wore sneakers and had my asthma pump ready. The bell tower was insane! As you got higher up the stairs got narrower. Sophia stopped climbing about two floors below the last one. I went all the way to the top and was able to see the top of the Duomo as well! Tip: If you’re afraid of heights, I suggest you don’t go all the way up. This view is unforgettable and I strongly recommend it. I also recommend you go up the bell tower instead of the Duomo anyway because then in your pictures of Florence you’ll have the Duomo in it!


Almost halfway up views



We then left to explore the museum in another building and learned quite a lot not only of the Duomo but the major influence the Medici family had in Italy.   A funny story I like to share is about how there is a room in the museum filled with statues that used to be on the outer part of the Duomo. They were removed by a Medici family member because he wanted to make it more gothic like. Well if you have that kind of money, by all means, go ahead. Turns out he had his plans all set with workers and an architect. Suddenly Florence was hit with a plague and everyone died. So the statues were left in the room. A creepy but cool fact is that there are relics of saints in the museum as well. We got to see a piece of the Apostle John’s arm.


The statues the Medici dude thought was smart to remove.
Sophia’s love for doors continues… thanks Kelly lol.

We walked back to the hostel and rested a bit before we went to eat meeting up with Paolo. Paolo is Alessandro’s friend who lives in Florence and travels back and forth to Barcelona a lot. The reason we were meeting with him was that silly me forgot to return my cousin’s apartment key before we left Barcelona. They were able to ask if Paolo could get the key from me and since he knew it was our first time there he offered to take us out.



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Pici Pasta ❤


I had another delicious pasta experience. I ordered a pici pasta dish and it was the thickest pasta I’ve ever had, but oh so yummy! We then met up with some friends of Paolo that were in Florence for a wedding. They were from Brasil and they worked in the wedding industry. They were all really great people! We talked about Europe and everyone’s many travels. The couple was actually going to New York in the fall and we told them they would love it, especially with the leaves changing colors. Afterwards, we walked back to our room and rested for yet another day of train traveling! Some beach pictures await in our next destination!


Wine shenanigans.


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