Explore the small, coastal town of Florence. Discover things to do in Florence, Oregon and the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture & natural beauty.
The Oregon coast has its own kind of magic. I don’t recall ever coming across a coastal region that is as versatile, rugged, and serene. There are many hideaways waiting to be discovered in this underrated part of the world. Just last week I went to Pacific City to enjoy the silhouetted rocks, the dunes, and the craft beer that is uniquely Oregon. But that story is for another day. This blog is about my experience in Florence, and some of the things to do in Florence, Oregon.
It has been such a relaxing and productive week in the countryside of Oregon. My mind is clear and inspired, and it has made me realize that even with how much I love city life, it’s nice to have a break from it now and then.
I turn a quarter of a century old tomorrow. I’m in the Oregon countryside with my family and I’m just as happy as I was when I turned 21 in San Diego, 22 in Las Vegas, 23 in Melbourne, Australia, and 24 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Funny enough, this house in the country is actually where I first started this blog. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, my immediate future is staring at me from around the corner. That future that determines so much of how my life will go.
25 sounded so old to my teenage and younger self. To my 24 year old self I still feel young, I’m at the cusp of many an exciting endeavor, I’m also in the dark of what the next year will entail.
I decided to not go straight into an intellectually stimulating (or probably more accurate, a mind numbingly) entry level job from my college graduation.
I’ve always been a worrier, someone who doubted and second guessed things. Then I took a chance and did something I always wanted to do: I moved abroad. I did it without an idea of what job I would find to keep me afloat, with which friends I would find a new perspective, with what inspiration I would find throughout the course of my two years away from home.
And in the end, it worked out just as it was meant to. As I’ve traveled up the coast of California and Oregon for the past two months, I’ve found how much I still appreciate and love my friends I knew from college, from past travels, and the new friends I’ve met through them.
How it feels like no time has passed at all. This initial veer off the idealized path has created a domino effect in my life. My passions come back to me, knock the breath out of me, I’m in love with so many things. But that’s always how I wanted to spend my life.
To me, it shows how genuinely happy I am going into this milestone birthday, how content and even excited I am with how my life is going even though I may not know exactly what I’m doing with it, or even what I’m doing tomorrow or the next day.
All I know is that music and writing have popped up time and time again through the years, and I don’t believe in coincidence.
I want to finish a master’s degree, I want to record an album and play at open mics or on the street just for the fun of it. I want to start a stellar record collection and become even broader with my music tastes. I want to write a book, to write full time for this blog. I want to become fluent in Spanish and travel to South America, go to Argentina and learn how to properly tango.
I want to take a cross country road trip with my boyfriend in our beat up van through the States and Canada. I want to settle down in Portland for awhile. I want to teach English in Japan, and live in London just to write for a summer. I want to go to concerts constantly, and festivals as much as my bank account allows.
I want to continually learn, to grow and find out how many ways I can enjoy life in the process.
In my (almost) 25 years I’ve earned my open water scuba certification, took culinary classes in Italy, traveled to 20 countries, completely started over in 4 different cities, received my bachelor’s degree in psychology, skydived over the middle of New Zealand, traveled on my own, volunteered at music festivals in Australia, fell in love with guitar, and lived.
I’ve dealt with loss, sadness, loneliness and self doubt. I’ve gone through the spectrum of emotions and come out on the other side with a sunnier disposition and an attitude that I can face anything I put my mind to.
I don’t see why I can’t do the rest of it as well, because all of those plans I mentioned before, I truly hope to one day do.
I’m finally figuring myself out: my confidence, what I love and what I don’t, what I want and what I’m willing to do to make sure my ambitions become reality.
25 is a year to not only get things done, but to enjoy it and embrace any fears or reluctances I may have. I can only imagine it’ll just get better as I get into my late 20s. So, here’s to a quarter of a century of living, and a quarter of a century to figure out where I really want to go is where I am in the present.
As Ben Howard once wrote, “Climb out. Out enough to see the curl of the world.” I’ve taken that to heart ever since.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And a few of my favorite excerpts from my first attempt at a travel blog 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!
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.
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.
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.
As you can see, I was completely and utterly enamored with Florence, I think I used the word “amazing” enough to prove that fact.
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.
From the time I was very little, I remember looking up at the sky every time a plane would fly over me on my daily walk to school.
I would imagine where the people up there were going, what adventures lay ahead for them. Every time I would see an airplane in the clear blue California sky, I would make a promise to myself that someday soon it would be me on my own adventures.
It became a promise that structured my whole life around when I could travel next.