Every Wednesday (more or less, and lately much less), I plan to post a look back at some of my past travels. You can find the rest of my travel posts here.
I’m getting to the point in my travel flashback series where it’s time to write about Florence, the city where it all began – that is, the place where I took my first big trip abroad (to a spot other than Canada or the Caribbean) without parental supervision. When I look back at my pictures from that summer Florence, I have to laugh – the photographs are not so great, and I was a total travel noob, ecstatic to be along for the ride but not very savvy about the tricks of traveling yet.
Looking back, the other theme of my photographs seems to be the joys of drinking in Italy; about 50% of my pictures are of various churches and monuments, and the other 50% are of my friends and I in Florentine bars with varying degrees of sketchiness. Ah, to be 19 in a country where you can legally drink. In the interest of preserving my dignity, I will only include one such picture here. This pretty much sums up the summer:
(Sidenote: man, were we proud of how that collection grew over the course of our month in Italy)
Now, onto more cultural things. During my month in Florence, my classmates and I were lucky enough to stay at the Villa Corsi Salviati, a gorgeous Renaissance villa in Sesto Fiorento, a suburb of Florence. Living at the Villa – parts of which date back to the 16th century (!!) – was quite literally akin to walking among history every day. I loved the Villa itself, but its beautiful gardens were even more spectacular. I’m just sad that I didn’t take more photographs of the Villa and its gardens.
While in Florence, we took classes on Renaissance politics, literature, and art history. Most of our art history classes were “out in the field,” so to speak – that is, we toured Florence’s many, many museums, palaces, and churches. We saw so much good art that it almost became a little overwhelming as the summer wore on!
On one of our first art walks around the city, we started at San Miniato al Monte, a basilica located at one of the city’s highest points, which of course provided spectacular views of Florence:
One of my favorite things about Florence was walking by the gold doors of the Baptistry and the imposing facade of the Duomo – which we were lucky enough to do on a regular basis. These are such iconic, ornate buildings; it blew me away to be able to see them all the time.
We also visited Palazzo Vecchio:
And Palazzo Medici:
And Basilica di Santa Croce:
And we also did a fair amount of wandering around the city and peeking down its winding back streets (usually while eating gelato, of course):
On one of our last nights in Italy, we had a spectacular dinner at a little restaurant near the Ponte Vecchio (whose name I truly wish I could remember). Before dinner, we wandered around the Ponte Vecchio just as the sun was setting, which was a truly beautiful way to say goodbye to Florence.
It’s been a solid eight years since I set foot in Florence, and I think often about how that’s way too long and I need to get back. Yet I know that, of all the places I’ve ever traveled to, a return visit to Florence is possibly the one with the greatest possibility to disappoint me. Because even though I’m sure I’ll still love the city when I return, I’m not sure anything will ever quite compare to being there in the summer of 2005, roaming around Florence without a care in the world, having travel mishaps that turned into hilarious inside jokes, and discovering the magic of Italy for the very first time.