Fabulous Florence

Saturday, Oct. 16

We’ve had a busy few days. After two nights in Milan, we took the train to Florence – the best decision of our trip so far.

Even after arriving late Wednesday afternoon, we still managed to see a huge portion of the city.

But first, we checked into our hostel. After staying in a few hotels, it was weird returning to a proper backpacking hostel. Our bedroom looked like the nap-time area for pre-schoolers. I was given two options when checking in: the sunshine room or the moon room.

Obviously, I chose the sunshine room. (Apparently it wasn’t so obvious – Matt and Kylie both said I should have chosen the moon room.) The walls were covered in a colourful mural featuring a smiling sun, flowers and birds. The beds were made with purple sheets, facing a wall lined with three lockers – two in bright blue and one in white, resembling the Finnish flag.

During our tour of the hostel, we discovered the stove wasn’t working – they had a fire about a year ago. I guess someone forgot to update the website because it boasted a fully functional kitchen, which was the only reason we booked it.

So the hostel worker showed us a second option – a sketchy back-alley apartment. We opted to pass.

On Thursday, we explored Florence some more. While there are hundreds of beautiful marble statues scattered throughout the city, we felt we should visit one its many museums, so we waited in line to see the statue of David. Matt said his hands are too big.

One of the things we love about Florence (besides its central location in Italy) is that it’s a big city with a small city feel. It’s not as intimidating as Milan or Istanbul. It has great shopping (better than Milan), the buildings are colourful, the architecture is unique and there’s a great outdoor market.

On Friday we took the train to Cinque Terre – a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera (thanks Wikipedia). There’s a trail that connects five small cliff-side villages. While it was a little cloudy, it was a perfect day.

Cinque Terre was one of the few places Matt and I had been hoping to see, based on a photo we found a year ago. The concrete houses in each village are painted in vibrant reds, yellows, greens, blues and oranges. They all funnel down towards their individual harbours, which are lined with boats, lazy fisherman (it’s the off season) and restaurants.

On Saturday, we tried to check into a new hostel. Fed up with our pre-school playpen, we decided it would be worth paying a few extra Euros for an apartment with its own kitchen, washer, dryer and bathroom.

So we showed up at 9 a.m. They told us to come back at 1 p.m. When we returned, we found out the pipes had burst and we couldn’t check in until Monday.

Long story short – we were sent to the world’s worst bed and breakfast.
The owner, Ninna Nanna, is nuts. She shouts at us in Italian, dries her laundry all over the house and leaves crusty dishes scattered throughout the kitchen.

We feel like we’re staying at someone’s house while they’re in the middle of moving.

It’s gross.

Thankfully, the beauty of Florence is softening the blow.

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