The Firenze Weekend that Almost Wasn't

Written by Adam June 3, 2014

The best part of my weekend in Florence was that it actually took place.

A day and a half before the travel weekend officially began, I was still scrambling to find out how to get there and where I was going to stay. If anyone ever tells you that it is fun to wing it and arrive in a city not knowing where you’re sleeping that night, they are liars. In the end, I was able to get to Florence and sleep with a roof with a roof over my head, but it was extremely stressful to get everything in order at the last minute, especially when I had an exam to study for at the same time.

Basically, I had plans to take a bus to Florence and stay with five other guys in an apartment. The bus was chartered through a guy who works at the CIMBA campus, Alberto. If you ever do the CIMBA program, you will almost definitely do one of his weekend bus trips. They are very convenient for students as they take you right from campus to all sorts of cities, like Rome, Florence, Munich and Interlaken. With his system, he gives you a very specific appointment time to pay him and secure your spot on the bus. I was fifteen minutes late to my meeting and as a result I lost my spot on the bus. I thought my weekend was ruined and I would have to stay in Paderno instead of gallivanting around Italy. I was pretty upset, but it’s Alberto’s system and he organizes these trips for students on his own time. They are very helpful for getting around, so I’ll say this to all future CIMBIANs, Alberto giveth, but Alberto absolutely taketh away.

Luckily, one of the other guys I was suppose to room with also lost his spot on the bus, so I didn’t have to scramble to find transportation alone. I eventually found us a train that was only 90 minutes and about ten more Euros than the bus. So I had a way to get to Florence and get back to campus. The next part was finding a room. The four other guys had their spot on the bus, and when our weekend plans were in limbo they had to book a different place. I knew we would be able to crash at their place, but I also didn’t want to get them in trouble with the people that booked them for having more people stay in the room then they paid for. In the end, all six of us were able to stay in the apartment no problem, but I did have to sleep on a kitchen counter top Thursday night, which surprisingly, wasn’t that bad. As I liked to joke, it really builds character.

Once everyone was all settled in, we finally got out to walk around and explore the beautiful city of Firenze, which is what they call it in Italy instead of Florence. Our apartment was about a four-minute walk from the Duomo, which is simply put an outrageously large and ornate cathedral. It is also on of the most unbelievable detailed buildings I’ve ever seen. Lining the walls of it are monuments and statues, and a facade of biblical events. The 50+ pictures I took of the Duomo do it no justice. Only its beauty surpassed its detail. One thing I’ve noticed about Italy is you think you’ve seen the most gorgeous view or architecture, but then you go to a new city and your jaw drops all over again. While the inside of the Duomo was not as detailed as the outside, the fresco more than makes up for any shortcoming of the Duomo’s interior. It’s basically a large mural that lines the inside of the dome, and when you loo at it, its hard to believe that a person painted it. It’s hard to see the detail of it when you are on the ground, but luckily I had my digital camera and was able to zoom in and do a 360 pan of the entire thing.

Seeing pictures on the Internet of amazing things like the Duomo and the fresco inside the Duomo only gives you a glimpse of how truly stunning they are. When I first laid eyes on the Duomo and tried to process how incredible a sight it was, my jaw was dropped for a few minutes while I stood there starring at it like a typical American tourist. I would have been embarrassed, but when you are gazing at truly one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, you don’t really care.

We deemed the line to go to the top of the Duomo to be too long, so instead we walked about 10 minutes to the Palazzo Della Signoria where we were able to see statues and sculptures on par with the Duomo, but with the added benefit of being only five or ten feet away. Being closer to the statues lets you see exactly how detailed they are.

After snapping photos of the statues, we decided to get some dinner. We went to a place my sister recommended, Osteria II Gatto E la Volpe. It was probably the best meal I’ve had during my time in Italy, but that’s a biased opinion since this place had Hawaiian pizza, which is my absolute favorite.

After finishing our dinner we decided to sample some of the other Florence attractions, the nightclubs. Earlier in the day we ran into an employee of Bus2Alps, which is a tourism company that specializes in setting up trips for college students traveling abroad in Europe. They are pretty good at their jobs, because they know exactly how to reel in visiting college students; hosting a pub crawl where ten euros buys you a spot on the crawl, culminating in a final stop at one of Florence’s most popular clubs for tourists, the Space Bar.

The club was very fun, and I would highly recommend looking into the Bus2Alps organization for students in Florence that want to sample the nightlife in probably the safest way you can.

Looking back over my weekend, I’m sure we could have seen more museums and some more art galleries, but I had a lot of fun nonetheless, As is the case with Cinque Terre, I doubt that this past weekend will be the only time I visit beautiful Firenze. The Duomo on its own is reason enough to visit, but add in, the numerous plazas with gorgeously detailed statues, and all the other art and museums I didn’t even get to see, and you’ll quickly realize that you need more than one weekend to fit in all that this wonderful city has to offer you.

Next weekend it looks like I’ll be heading to Rome, and hopefully for this last weekend, my final hurrah on this peninsula, I’ll know exactly how I’m getting there, and I wont have to convince myself that sleeping on a kitchen counter is not that bad. But if I don’t, it’s not that big of a deal, because even if you don’t exactly have plan, it is a little bit of fun figuring it out as you go.

Thanks for Reading,

Adam Zogas