November 5-6, 2019
I cannot tell you how many times I have dreamed about this day. So many times throughout the past five years, I have literally had dreams where I am roaming around this city again and getting to show Chris all of the amazing things I had seen and done during my time here. Sometimes I woke up from those dreams sad because of how much I missed it, and other times I woke up with the biggest smile on my face knowing that someday soon I would actually be able to so.
I’ve written about it before – how I left Chris for Florence to study there for a semester when Chris and I first started dating..blah blah blah. But truly, it was such a crazy time in both of our lives and put a really weird stamp on our new relationship. We missed each other like crazy during those four months (Chris made a countdown wall in his bedroom made of post-it notes 😂) and we FaceTimed as much as we could. However, I was doing something I dreamt about doing literally my entire life. I always loved to travel and I always wanted to explore as much of the world as I could. I knew once I got older I was going to study abroad in college so that I could live in Europe for a little bit of my life and travel as much as I could while I was there – ironic how my life turned out, isn’t it?
So, even though I found Chris and our relationship was brand new, I wasn’t for a second thinking of canceling my lifelong plans of being able to study abroad. In fact, this time in our relationship is such a significant factor in why our relationship is as awesome as it is today – it made for an interesting first step and gave us such a solid foundation right from the start. Even though Chris wasn’t there, he had experienced this journey with me, encouraged me throughout it all, and this time, I was finally able to take his hand and walk him through the streets that I walked every single day and showed him what I was up to when we weren’t on FaceTime. This trip was just as important to him as it was to me and that we were able to share this experience together because it is the one part of our entire relationship that actually kept us apart. Bringing Chris and Florence together actually made me feel complete. A city that took hold of my heart and now, my husband, who supported me every step of the way were finally going to meet each other.
We arrived to the Santa Maria Novella train station after a two-hour train ride from Venice (the Italian train system is
amazing and I highly recommend traveling by train through this beautiful country) and I held back the tears coming to my eyes. I AM FINALLY BACK IN FLORENCE!
I know it sounds cheesy but I truly snapped right back into place and felt right at home when we stepped off the train. I for once knew exactly where I was going. The map of the city was sketched in my brain and so this time, Chris had to let ME be the tour guide. I looked like a huge loser walking us to our hotel (which was located right down the street from my old apartment) because I was so excited to be back. It felt so GOOD to be back. It was like saying hello to an old friend and starting right where we left off.
I didn’t even know where to begin – we dropped our things off at our hotel and Chris told me that he just wanted me to take him around all the spots I knew so well…so lucky for him, we walked 15 miles that day 😅. I ran us around the city…my old apartment (we snuck inside and I was able to show him how
many god damn steps we had to go up every day), Piazza della Repubblica (the square right outside my apartment that kept me up many nights), the infamous Duomo, MisterPizza, Piazza Signoria, the locations of all my old classrooms (travel writing, oil painting, Italian, Wine Business and Environmental Studies), the place I would go grocery shopping, Ponte Vecchio, Mercato Centrale, the leather market….the list goes on and on. It was so exciting to be able to show him around that having to do it all in the rain didn’t even bother us. One of my last few weeks in Florence, we went to a restaurant called Acqua Al 2 and Chris always remembered me talking about it because they have a famous dish – the Blueberry Steak. So, we booked reservations for that night so he could finally try it too. We had an amazing meal there splitting their flight of 5 different pastas 🤤 a soup and the steak. Oh and a bottle of wine of course.
The next day it continued to rain but it didn’t stop us from doing anything different. Our hotel notified us that a lot of museums around Florence happened to have discounts or free entry on the days we were there. That made my decision very easy on where to go first thing that morning – after eating at a cafe where I always would grab a coffee and Nutella croissant, we walked our way over to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see
Michelangelo’s famous David. I had seen it during my time abroad however, I distinctly remember the line being super long to get in and if I didn’t have a student museum pass at the time, I would’ve been waiting for a while. We got very lucky that morning and we were able to walk right into the museum, free of charge and no line! Florence is known for its famous works of renaissance art, especially by Michelangelo, so I thought it was really cool that Chris could at least get a little glimpse of art world history by going to see the original sculpture.
After the David, we made our way across the Arno River and climbed up the Piazzale Michelangelo – the place that offers the most beautiful views of Florence at the cost of climbing up the hill. After taking some pictures, we made our way back down and at this point, our hearts and stomachs were longing for some GUSTA PIZZA – the best pizza in Florence. I was very excited for Chris to finally be able to have Gusta Pizza after I ate it in front of him on FaceTime many times before. He finally got to taste the fresh deliciousness that comes out of those stone ovens.
After Gusta pizza, we decided to check out the Pitti Palace – a palace where royals had lived (construction started in 1446!) and it was another great glimpse in understanding how important Florence was back in the renaissance. After that, I took him to an old street I used to hang out on a lot, via Faenza, because that
is where a lot of my classes were located where we shared my beloved Panbriaco panini and one euro gelato from Antico Gelato across the street. The day was rainy and gloomy and since I made Chris walk so much over the last couple of days we decided to relax and hang out in our awesome hotel room until dinnertime while enjoying yet another boxed wine. For five years I have longed for this amazing truffle ravioli that I would get from a restaurant on via Faenza that me and the girls would go to often. I remember it being the most amazing thing I had ever tasted and so while I was unconfident in my decision to take Chris there for dinner because it isn’t a famous place to go to in Florence, it was a place that I enjoyed going to and I truly didn’t know if it was legit or not. However, as soon as we sat down I knew I made the right decision to come back here with him. It is literally a hole in the wall type of place but we were immediately ambushed with Italian love – the owner had his little desk with family pictures and all of the receipts came to
him where he calculated it all on his little calculator. On his way to the bathroom, Chris ran into a family gathering in the back and they gave him a hug because they thought he was another cousin to arrive. It was a great atmosphere to be in and yes – the truffle ravioli was just as good as I remembered! Chris and I got our own plate of it and ate every bite. Along with more calamari and some Florentine steak. Oh and more wine.
Although our time in Florence was short, I am so happy that I was finally able to show Chris around what I feel like is one of my many homes (I was going to say second home but I literally can’t keep count anymore). This was so special for both of us and I already cannot wait to come back again. Florence, you are amazing ❤️.