While Abbey and I had enjoyed our time in the Alps, we were both ready to head south to warmer weather by our last day in Innsbruck.  We headed to the Innsbruck train station so we could make our way to Italy.  Before we began our European trip, Italy was probably the destination I was most looking forward to.  Florence was our first stop in the country.  Our train out of Innsbruck was delayed, so we had to wait longer than anticipated in the bitter cold.  The delay caused us to miss our connection in Bologna, but there were many trains heading to Florence so we only arrived in Florence an hour late. 

We were able to book an entire apartment on AirBnB for our accommodation.  The apartment was a 30 minute walk from the train station.  The walk over was beautiful; the sun setting in the background lit up the sky as we made our way down stereotypically narrow streets and crossed the scenic river.  Our flat was located on a charming street in a quintessential Italian neighborhood.   After check in we got unpacked and Abbey cooked dinner.  Given the time and the long travel day, we stayed in that night.

The next morning we went to a cafe around the corner for breakfast.  There we had delicious vegan croissants (which are surprisingly common in Italy) and espresso.  We then went by a bakery and found some vegan cookies to munch on throughout the day.  Luckily, free walking tours were offered in Florence, so we were able to renew our tradition of attending those on our first full day.

Florence as seen from Michelangelo Square.

The weather in Florence was considerably warmer than Austria, but temperatures were still hovering just above freezing.  It didn’t take us long on the walking tour to realize that our socks had not completely dried from washing the previous night because our feet were freezing while the rest of us felt fine.  Fortunately, this was just a minor inconvenience and we still enjoyed the two hour walking tour.  Florence has a rich history with beautiful artwork and architecture that was very interesting to learn about.

The tour finished in the early afternoon, so we grabbed some ramen for lunch after it finished.  We then went across the river and climbed the hill to get to Michelangelo Square (Piazzale Michelangelo) where we had an amazing view of the city.  This is a must do when visiting Florence if you have a clear day.  Florence is a breathtaking city, especially when viewed form above.  The climb up the stairs can be a little tiring, but the view is absolutely worth it.

After enjoying the sights for a while we went further up the hill to see Florence’s oldest church.  The church was interesting to observe from the outside and also had a terrace with great views of the city.  By the time we descended the sun was beginning to set, so we headed for home.  We grabbed a bottle of wine and a marinara pizza for dinner that night.  It is very easy to eat vegan in Italy because you can order a marinara pizza (sauce, garlic, oregano) just about anywhere.

Basilica San Miniato al Monte, built in 1018.

The next day the weather had turned for the worse and we awoke to a mix of snow and rain.  We didn’t have much of a motivation to go out in such weather.  We had had enough cold temperatures on our trip so far.  We eventually headed out to grab some lunch (marinara pizza again) and go to the Galileo Museum.

The museum was not as interesting as we hoped.  I thought it would convey more information about science history, but it was mostly just a bunch of instruments used by scientists in the past.  I’m sure some people might find this interesting, but it was not really for either of us.  After leaving the museum we grabbed some dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant and then went to a pub to watch some soccer matches that night.

The next day the weather was also rather miserable.  We stayed in for most of the day, relaxing and getting some blog work done.  I went out to grab yet another pizza for lunch.  I do wish we could have gone out and done more during our time in Florence, but the weather just wasn’t worth it.  We could have gone to one of the many art museums, but they don’t really interest us.  Florence is a great city to visit, but good weather is important.

Tuscan Hills

That night we booked our first ever AirBnB “experience”.  It was a food and wine tasting experience at a local organic winery that was just down the street for our AirBnB.  The experience was absolutely amazing and more than worth the money.  We were taught how to properly inspect and taste wine.  We were given five glasses of wines in different styles, they even let us finish one of the bottles form the tasting.  The food was also outstanding and they catered towards our dietary needs.

The next morning the weather had finally improved, but we were unable to enjoy it for long.  We check out of our AirBnB around 8AM and started making our way towards the train station.  We stopped at a cafe for coffee and a salad for breakfast.  Then we got to the station where we hopped on a train to take us even further south to warmer weather.

Abbey’s POV

To be entirely honest, I wasn’t fond of the idea of spending so much time in Italy. Sure, I knew (or, at least hoped) the weather would be better, but I just wasn’t excited. Looking back, I think I was trying to manage my expectations and didn’t want to be disappointed. Turns out, I really enjoyed most of our time in Italy.

Florence is a beautiful, quaint city. Our AirBnB was located down an narrow, cobblestone alley that was exactly what I pictured Italian streets to look like. It was busy and you constantly had to listen out for mopeds or small cars careening down the narrow streets, but it felt like a small, comforting city. The locals were kind and put up with our terribly pronounced Italian and were always happy to point out vegan options on the menu.

Despite it being winter and the trees still being a bit bare, the rolling Tuscan hills were still breathtaking to look at. A lot of people go to Florence for the art, but if I’m being entirely honest, looking at art for a long time tends to bore me. I can appreciate that it looks nice and what the artist may have been going through while composing their pieces, but I think some of the “magic” is lost on me. Despite this, I still loved Florence. It’s more than a city of art. It’s a city of food and wine, history, kind locals, and fast drivers.