It was indeed a long day of driving and waiting and driving before I reached my final destination that evening. Bolzano to Florence is quite a long distance so I’d arranged two separate Blablacar rides to cover the distance. I had a few hours of waiting in a university city called Bologna in-between the rides, where I killed time by eating tortilleni bolognese pasta for lunch. It’s the tomatoey mince sauce pasta dish that Bologna is famous for, and it was indeed super delicious. I just about licked my plate clean.
I had visited Florence before on my Contiki tour when I first arrived in Europe. It was my favourite city for the Italian portion of that trip so it felt really nice to be returning again to a place with such good memories. I ended up wishing I had allocated more time than just two nights to Florence but again, I wanted to maximise my Italy travel so put the priority on seeing new places. Those people that are up on the play with their Italian geography might have noticed that I skipped Venice while I was in the north. I ended up disappointed with Venice when I visited it last year due to I think unrealistic high expectations after dreaming of visiting it for so many years. I decided to save seeing Venice again for another trip. Maybe even in February one year when the famous mask festival is held. I will definitely be visiting Italy again in this lifetime.
For my accommodation in Florence I decided to try out Airbnb for the first time. Anyone who has tried to find a place to stay in Florence will understand. Florence hostels are rather expensive (at least €30 a night) but also quite nasty with bad cleanliness ratings etc. There are nice hostels in Florence but they tend to be on the outskirts or not even within the city itself at all. Looking on Airbnb, I could see that was the right way to go.
For those who haven’t heard of Airbnb (like my mum and grandma – love you guys xoxo), if you happen to have a spare bedroom, or even a spare apartment, you can advertise it on the Airbnb website and people will pay you to hire your spare room/apartments for however many nights. It’s a great way to get around Europe as it often works out cheaper than hostels, as long as you’re travelling in a group and can split the cost. For the lone traveller like moi, hostels are still usually cheaper. But not in Florence! I found a cozy central Italian apartment where each bed was hired out for just €17 a night. Sweet deal!
I stayed in Florence for just two nights. I didn’t even do a heck of a lot on my one full day as I spent a lot of it catching up with the great friends I’d made while in Lake Como (ah the perks of following the backpacker trail). We watched the sunset from the Piazzale Michelangelo with wine, chocolate and strawberries. And lots of laughter and hugs when we finally parted ways for good.
The only attractions I did actually see included the leather market and the Boboli gardens where for the first time since I started travelling, my expired student ID didn’t work for a discounted entry (a sad sad day having to pay full price). There was some general wandering about of course.
Ponte Vecchio a.k.a that bridge with all the gold shops
A gargoyle in the Boboli Gardens
Basilica of Santa Croce
Fountain of Neptune
A building covered in notes
Where I stayed: An Airbnb listing in central Florence
Price: €17 a night in a 3 bed room within a whole apartment
Overall: It was quite a basic apartment but genuinely Italian and clean. The washing machine lived out on the balcony and there was no kettle. Just this special Italian coffee pot that you boil on the gas stove. The owners were lovely and even rang me five minutes after I checked out to let me know I’d forgotten my kindle! Very kind.