Snapshot Memories of the Week: Florence, Italy

Snapshot memories is a new weekly series, giving a visual glimpse into different destinations and unique ways to view them. It’s also a way for me to look back on travels that occurred before and after I started this blog, and to give each place I’ve traveled the attention it deserves. 

This week my memories go back to Florence.

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Florence, Italy was pretty much everything I could’ve wanted out of a summer in Tuscany. There was history, glorious amounts of food and gelato, and even a fleeting romance.

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Coming from a Hollywood culture that glamorizes all things Italy (read: Under the Tuscan Sun), I kept my expectations low. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how my summer actually surpassed the previous expectations I held.

To sum it up in a word, it was an unforgettable summer.

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Sunset on the Arno River
Sunset on the Arno River

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It was the first time I was to travel on my own, I had just turned 21 and I was open and ready for all that Italy had to offer, whether that be in terms of the nightlife, the language, or the culinary class I attended every afternoon after a humid walk through the city.

Culinary Class
Culinary Class

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I was enamored from my first night in Florence, on a hot summer’s night, getting to know my new flatmates, and eating some of the best gnocchi I’ve tried in my life.

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I loved how the city lit up, how the language was spoken, and how much slower the way of life seemed to be – unless you were brought back to reality by a sudden speeding vespa.

Katie and I

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I climbed the Duomo, went out almost every night for my month long stay in the city, saw Michelangelo’s David up close and in person, and immersed myself in all things art and beauty.

I ate gelato once a day if not more, and I still didn’t get to all the flavors on hand, nor did I get to visit all of the numerous gelaterias there were to choose from.

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I found myself at secret bakeries in the wee hours of the morning devouring Nutella croissants, I became used to walking on cobblestones constantly, and realized pretty quick that if I went down a new street I was sure to stumble upon a great piece of art, a flirtatious or cheeky local to talk to, or a hidden family-run trattoria frequented by locals.

Florence
photo cred: Molly Wascher

If you’re interested in seeing my first ever attempt at a travel blog and the thoughts of my 21 year-old self, here it is in the flesh, my summer traveling through Europe.

And a few of my favorite excerpts that I wrote specifically about Florence:

June 26th, 2011

Let me just begin by saying how much I am in love with Florence, literally IN LOVE with Florence. When we first walked into the city square I was speechless for a good few minutes, it was so incredible. The architecture, the lights, the live music coming from every corner, everything is so attractive here (and yes that includes the Italian boys).

I’ve decided to get married in Florence. I don’t know when, or to whom, but I am going to come back some day and get married in Florence. It is the most romantic place I’ve been to in my life.

Anyway, we started our night by walking around saying ciao to everyone we met along the way, eventually ending up in a little shop to share a bottle of wine. We took it to the steps of the duomo and started drinking wine under the shadow of the architecture and the Tuscan stars.

It wasn’t long before a couple of Italian boys came up and started talking to us, they invited us to come to the local discoteca a little ways down. It was an amazing night, I still can’t believe everything that went down. Old school hip hop, VIP corner with free champagne and fruit plates, lots and lots of Italians, partying til 3am. So exhausted today with all the orientations I had to go to for school, but it was so worth it.

Una notte del leone. More soon, ciao!

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July 18th, 2011

Things I’ve come to love in Italy:

-Hazelnut gelato.hazelnut gelato.hazelnut gelato….hazelnut gelato (oh, and Mango is a close second)

-Men in suits on vespas. hot.

-the cobblestone streets that I trip over on my way to school every day (it’s a love hate relationship)

-everyone drinking from open containers in public (Florence literally feels like a college campus during the summer at night)

-standing cappuccinos. And just cappuccinos in general.

-the Duomo steps (where every great night begins)

-the food. It’s funny, I actually didn’t eat that much Italian food back home before coming here, but when I’m here I feel like I’ll never get tired of pasta and such fresh deliciousness.

-my little apartment with pink walls and tiny appliances everywhere

-the language. I don’t care if I can’t understand it, it’s beautiful. It’s probably better I can’t in most cases when guys yell things at me on the street or I almost get run over (again) by a vespa and they yell something angry at me.

-“ciao ciao ciao ciao ciao ganzo ganzo ganzo” -Katie (my roommate) the pickup line she uses with all the Italians. It surprisingly works really well.

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July 5th, 2011

Last night was a kind of bittersweet missed moments kinds of night. It was fun celebrating Fourth of July in a foreign country, I only had one incident of anti-American sentiment, but everyone else seemed to be enjoying the American spirit. There was a huge concert going on in one of the Piazzas near the Duomo, people were packed close together two blocks straight every direction.

All of Florence, it seemed, was celebrating American independence.

It gave me this gushy feeling of togetherness, like maybe the world isn’t as screwed up as I think it is, and maybe everyone doesn’t hate Americans as much as I think they do. Most Italians I’ve talked to admit to thinking of us as drunk and loud but they actually really like us despite the stereotype.

The only downside of the night is how it didn’t turn out as we expected. One of my roommates was supposed to meet up with her Italian boy, it fell through. Another one of my roommates tried meeting up with an American boy and he ended up being an asshole about it…and then there’s me…well there wasn’t a fault on either side, just bad luck.

I was supposed to be on the steps of the Duomo at midnight but it started raining so we had to go into the nearest gelateria…and the club I had mentioned we were going to we only went to briefly because it was so barren last night. So, I have no idea if he came looking for me. I’d like to think so, but at this point I’m leaving it up to chance. If we meet again so be it. If not then I’m still loving life in Italy, it truly is amazing here.

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July 9th, 2011

As I was exploring more of the city on my way home from the Accademia I realized just how much I’m going to miss this place. This summer will forever be ingrained in my memory and I’m not even half-way through my trip yet.

The faint sound of the accordion player down the street every morning on my way to my favorite bar for my daily cappuccino, the historical buildings and statues that are around every corner; I never know what important monument I’ll come across when I walk out my door every day…

Last night, me and my friend from Ohio walked toward the Ponte S.Trinita overlooking the river. We climbed over the edge of the bridge to this triangular platform (another thing we probably weren’t supposed to be on) and took in the beauty of Florence, sitting over the river. It was absolutely beautiful. We both noted how we didn’t know how we were going to go back and live in the States after witnessing such a beautiful city like Florence. We just sat there for awhile, in peace with everything around us. I finally got home around 5 this morning, but it was so worth it. It was an amazing night.

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As you can see, I was completely and utterly enamored with Florence, I think I used the word “amazing” enough to prove that fact.

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photo cred: Lianne Enage
photo cred: Lianne Enage

I still think of Florence as my home away from home, and I still can’t believe how many good memories I have after only living there for a month.

This week my snapshots consist of art, food, architecture, and my many nights out on the town, because I found these things in abundance while I lived in this beautiful city.

Florence, I miss you like an old college roommate. I’ll come back for you someday.

Art

Art

Food

Food

Architecture

Architecture

Nights Out

NightsOut

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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