I’ve traveled lots of times by myself, but never internationally! I had this amazing opportunity to go with one of my vendors, after winning one of their competitions. I honestly felt like it came at the work time, but I was so excited to go back to Italy! I studied abroad in Florence back in college, and I’ve been trying to get back since then. It’s never worked out, until now.
For the last year I’ve been using Duolingo to learn Italian and trying to become fluent in the language. (Even though I can barely speak English!)
I started off in Boston and flew to Milan. From there, I headed back down to Florence where I stayed for the next couple of days.
This time, I stayed on the other side of the Arno, Oltroarno. I wasn’t sure how I would like, as I didn’t explore that part too much when I was there. I think I just got comfortable going to the same places, running on the same trail, that I did when I was living there. Oltroarno was absolutely amazing. My Airbnb was a cute little studio, that the elderly man renting it out had stocked with typical Italian foods like bread, espresso, Nutella (which I still cant eat to this day since I ate it WAY too much), and other various snacks. Oltroarno is less touristy then the other side by the Duomo. It’s more residential and more of the locals live there. You don’t have to deal with the vendors trying to sell you stuff on the side of the road, or herds of tourists fighting to get their first taste of gelato.
On that note, my first stop was Gelatoria Dei Neri, which I’m not kidding, is the best gelato you will ever have. Since I was there, they moved across the street to an even bigger location. My favorite was always one called cookies. So, I got that and dark chocolate. While in that area, I stopped by some of the places I used to go all the time like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio. If you walk over the bridge and take a left, it leads you down some small roads which then take you to the Piazzo Michelangelo. I used to run up there every morning, and that spot has a special place in my heart. As I walked up it, I got really nostalgic remembering all memories that happened years ago. It’s weird, but I felt like no time had passed at all. I still remembered every little side street, and shop on each corner. I didn’t need a map to get around, (I know I was shocked too!). When I got to the top, there was a guy playing covers of Ed Sheeran. The view is absolutely incredible. It overlooks the entire city, and has some of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen.
Florence will always have a special place in my heart. Going there, I felt so lost in college, like I didn’t know myself anymore. I was so different than how I grew up, and I really hated myself for it. I was always so insecure, and especially when I went off to college. I didn’t know anyone that had the same faith as me, and that was really hard to feel alone like that. It’s pretty crazy, but I remember when we first go to our new apartment our first time there, I was sharing a room with one of my friends at the time. We were in all the same classes, and had some mutual friends, but we weren’t really that close. We didn’t know each other too well. I’ll never forget once we got there, (It took us almost 2 full days because we missed our connecting flight), we planned on taking a nap, then going out to explore. We ended up talking for 3 hours, and realizing that we had the same faith, and our families we so much alike. From there, she has been my best friend who has been through every little thing and has encouraged me every step of the way. She’s even my matron of honor in my wedding! It’s funny how God can do that to you, through these curve balls right when you need them.
My next stop was Gusta Pizza for dinner. This, my friends, is the best tasting pizza you will ever have. I feel like a snob, but honestly, I am so picky about pizza after having it in Italy. You don’t realize how amazing and fresh and delicious it is until you go there.
The next day, the weather called for some rain. It was on again, off again, so I didn’t plan for too much other than walking around and exploring. There were some off the beaten paths that I wanted to take. They were little side roads that led to really quaint houses and view of the city that you don’t see too often. I also explore Oltroarno a bit more and even found the perfect leather jacket that I have been waiting for! It was my biggest regret not buying one last time I was here, so I told myself the next time I went back, I was going to buy one.
For lunch that day, I stopped at a cute little panini shop called Totto. From there, I found some really cute antique and vintage shops and looked around. You can always find some really cool things there! I even stumbled upon some outdoor markets with vendors selling various wooden carved objects, handmade soaps, Jewelry, etc.
My last day in Florence, I walked around one last time and then headed off to San Maria Novella to catch a train back to Milan.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Milan. I’ve been in various cities across the country, but Milan all I knew was that it’s the fashion capital of the world. What I found upon my arrival, is that Milan is similar to NYC. Vintage architecture juxtaposed with modern skyscrapers filled the sky.
The first full day in Milan, I headed off to the Salone di Mobile, which is the biggest design show in the world. They have about 360,000 people visit each year! I’ve been to shows like BDNY and Neocon, but this was unlike anything that I have ever seen. There were 30 different sections of the design show from furniture, to rugs, to bathroom design, and kitchen designs. It was so incredible to be there will some of the most thoughtfully designed products. I’m a big fan of Scandinavian design, with the look of simplicity, but amazing craftsmanship and detail. There were spinning tables, leather details, greenery galore, and so much more. (I promise I didn’t mean to make that rhyme!) I spent 2 full days at the show, and let me tell you, you could spend a week there and not see everything! I’m a sucker for bathrooms and kitchens, so as much as I love furniture, I think those were my favorite part.
I’m sure you’re curious about the food, too. And yeah, that didn’t disappoint either. We ate at some of the most amazing fish restaurants and had some of the best pasta I’ve ever had. The gelato, the wine, the bread, I mean you can never go wrong in Italy!
All in all it was an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful that I got to spend my time in Italy for a whole week! With that, I’m so happy and excited to be back home with my friends and family.