Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Florence

Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Florence

Saturday night: We had the perfect sunny day in Florence. Once we got there, we checked in to our hotel and set out for lunch. We got a little sidetracked along the way as we passed the duomo and Linds fell in love. She didn’t want to leave! We passed a gelateria on the way, … Read more

Saturday night:

sister

We had the perfect sunny day in Florence. Once we got there, we checked in to our hotel and set out for lunch. We got a little sidetracked along the way as we passed the duomo and Linds fell in love. She didn’t want to leave! We passed a gelateria on the way, called Bellamia, where we were persuaded into waffles… with nutella… and gelato… two scoops, for lunch. OK so we may not have needed that much persuading. They were so good and worth the sugar coma for the next few hours.

waffles

After lunch we made our way to Ponte Vecchio and explored around the Pitti Palace. Although I already visited Florence once before, this time it was so much different due to the weather, and of course who I was with. Every experience means so much more to me when I have the opportunity to share it with my family. The rest of the afternoon we walked around Florence to the shops and different sites. We then waited in line to climb to the top of the duomo. 463 steps and the work out of a lifetime later we made it to the top. Even the view from the top seemed different this time. Looking out onto the city, everything looked so much greener and livelier.

view

After the duomo we made our way through the streets and came across a cute restaurant for dinner, where we were thankful to take our time and rest our tired feet from our adventurous day. We then went back to our hotel to get some sleep before our 6:30 a.m. wake up call to catch the train to our next destination, Manarola. Here we come Cinque Terre!

Firenze Forever

Firenze Forever

This weekend I discovered Italian chocolate. If you love American chocolate, boy are you in for a treat if you get the chance to taste chocolate in Europe. My entire weekend involved chocolate, and I loved every bit of it. This past Saturday morning my roommates and I decided to take a trip to Florence. … Read more


This weekend I discovered Italian chocolate. If you love American chocolate, boy are you in for a treat if you get the chance to taste chocolate in Europe. My entire weekend involved chocolate, and I loved every bit of it.

This past Saturday morning my roommates and I decided to take a trip to Florence. We woke up at 6 a.m. to catch the first train out of Viterbo. After the first train, we had a half hour layover until the next one, so we stopped in the train station’s café and ordered pastries for breakfast. Since my arrival in Italy, I’ve always chosen the fruit pastries, but I decided it was time to test out the chocolate. I picked out a croissant filled with half cream and half chocolate. It was so good! The chocolate just melts in your mouth. It is nothing like American chocolate.

After four hours of traveling, we finally reached Florence. Although I always heard good things about Florence, it was not at the top of my “must see” list. I did not have very high expectations for the city, since I heard it was mostly known for museums. Wow, was I wrong. Florence is absolutely beautiful. The pictures I took do not do it justice whatsoever. Unlike any other buildings I have seen in Italy, these buildings were not only decorated incredibly, but were also colored with light greens and pinks. I loved the colored details.

duomo

First we saw the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the main church in Florence (also known at the Duomo) and decided to climb to the top! We got the work out of a lifetime while climbing all 463 stairs to the top and it was so worth it. The view of the city from the top was amazing. After the Duomo we went to a museum that held marble, gems and collections from the Medici family (the family who ruled Florence back in the day)! We grabbed sandwiches for lunch and then walked on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. The bridge was lined with jewelry shops galore. Supposedly the Medici family owned it in the past and sold jewelry there. We then went to the Pitti Palace to see the Boboli Gardens! Unfortunately, we missed the last tour of the gardens by two minutes.

ponte vecchio

Since the sun was setting soon, my roommate Min (who has been to Florence previously) wanted to take us to Michelangelo Square, which is a very high hill top, in order to see the entire city of Florence. The hike there took a while. However, what was waiting for us was beyond worth it. The sun setting over Florence was literally breathtaking. At the top, there was a set of stairs and an Italian musician playing the guitar and singing. Being the sensitive girls that we are, my roommates and I all started crying while listening to Fabio (made up name) serenade us and watching the sun set over Florence. The tears were then followed by tons of laughter though, as we realized how emotional we were.

michealangelo hill

We then did a little window shopping and grabbed gelato at the cutest gelateria (I chose tiramisu and chocolate chip this time, on a chocolate waffle cone – my second taste of Italian chocolate).

The next morning we went back to the gelateria and ordered chocolate waffles for breakfast! So nutritional, I know. I also asked for a latte, expecting a glass of cold milk. However, I was brought a steaming glass of milk. Whoops. I will have to ask for “un latte freddo” next time. The waffle was delicious, but also made me miss mom and the strawberry waffles that she makes.

waffles

We did some more shopping since we saw so many sites the day before and then got gelato again, right before hopping on the train for home (attempting to try something new each time, I got mint gelato). On the train ride home, we taught Min some American slang words and phrases and in return she taught us a few Korean words. I think I am learning just as much about Korean culture as I am learning about Italian culture while living here.

We got home late Sunday night and, once again, we were all exhausted. However, it was nice to be “home.” Our program advisor told us upon our arrival that we would soon consider Viterbo “home,” but I didn’t really believe him. It’s funny how soon you can adapt and view someplace new as your home. While I thought there would never be any competition for my favorite city, I am now torn between the huge, magical city of Rome and the quaint, beautiful city of Florence. Firenze forever!