First Weekend in Florence

Written by kristinkelly February 4, 2023

For our first weekend after LIFE, many of the CIMBA students decided to spend the weekend in Florence. Not knowing much about Florence aside from the Statue of David, I was looking forward to the unexpected. We were all able to find Airbnbs at relatively low prices; most likely because it is the off season. District 1 is the place to be in Florence, and we were in the heart of it. We took the train from Castelfranco to Florence and then walked about 15 minutes to the Duomo.

As we walked into the square, we admired the beautiful architecture; I quite honestly have never seen anything like it before. Out of coincidence, other member of our group were in line to tour the Duomo so we chatted with them about how their journey had gone thus far. We were all starving from the train ride so we found a quaint sandwich place to refuel. By this point, our Airbnb was ready to check in. Our host met us in front of the building and escorted us up the stairs. We dropped off our backpacks, took a look around and then rushed out to make our next excursion.

A few girls in our group found a tour to climb the almost 500 stairs to the top of the Duomo along with the Bell Tower. We decided to do the Duomo first. A little more than half way up the tour, we were able to walk around the inside of the building from at least a dozen stories up. The stunning display of artwork covering the ceiling was magnificent. Walking around, I was in awe of the magnitude of this building but also hesitant to get anywhere close to the edge. If you are one that’s afraid of heights, I might caution you to not do this tour. We then made it up to the very top which was outside. The pictures we were able to take were incredible with the view being surreal. We walked back down the stairs after we were done taking in the view. Once we got back down, I went into a café near the Duomo and got an orange juice. I’ve been told by friends that orange juice in Italy is so much better than in the States because it is freshly squeezed for every order. This was my first opportunity to get some, so I had to try it. It was absolutely delicious.

After I was done with my juice, we decided to climb the stairs to the top of the bell tower to see the sunset. I would not have thought of this idea because I was already really tired from the first hike, but once we were up, there it was absolutely gorgeous. We got up at the perfect time to see the pinks and orange colors hitting the historic buildings. The feeling we got standing up there was incredible; there was nothing else we needed to do except take in the view. That was the point in the trip where it really hit me that I was in Italy, which was an amazing feeling. As we watched, the other girls and I talked about our experiences with picking CIMBA and it was so nice to realize we are all in the same place, doing the same thing and bonding tremendously.

After we got down from the tower, we headed back to our Airbnb to get ready for the night. We found a small, nicely decorated pizza shop next to our place and decided to try it. Once we started eating, a musician came out to sing and play the guitar in the center of the restaurant. This was such a beautiful touch to a spectacular meal. We finished our meal then caught up with the rest of our group, which was quite a lot of people to spend the rest of the night with new good friends. The next day, we unfortunately did not get to do much because our train left earlier in the afternoon. Sitting on the train I realized how spectacular this weekend was and this was only the first of many.