Oh wow, I have had such a lovely time in this city…it’s my favorite so far! I met the girls yesterday afternoon and we hit the ground running. We went to the market for a little shopping…so much fun to have some company! I bought a custom-made leather belt for 20Euro…are you kidding me?! How fabulous! I also bought a dress and some random bracelets and things…cheap and so cute! After the market, we went to Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sun set…gorgeous but it was a bit cloudy. We came back to the hostel, changed clothes, and went out dancing at the disco in our hostel…fun fun!
Hostels are completely new to me, but it’s been really fun! There are six beds in our room, so the four of us have two other random roommates. It feels like camp! The hostel is crawling with backpackers and travelers, but it’s nice to be around people like us. This place has everything–internet cafe, bar, dancing, breakfast, tours, spa, you name it! Allison and Maria said this is not exactly typical of all hostels, so I think I may be spoiled to hostels in the future!
This morning we met a tour group through the hostel and went to the fresh food market in Florence. Our guide was an Australian culinary student here in Italy, so he was very knowledgeable about foods and cooking, etc. We got to taste green olives, marinated garlic, sun dried tomatoes, formaggio with pear mustard (my favorite!), parmiaggiano reggiano with berry jam, Tuscan bread with olive oil, salami, and 15 year old balsamic vinegar. They were all so delicious…we couldn’t get enough! I have never tasted antipasti like that before. We spent two and a half hours there, then went for a cappuccino before sightseeing the rest of the day. We saw Giotto’s Tower, Santa Maria di Fiore Cathedral, the Duomo, and my favorite, the statue of David at the Accademia Gallery. He literally took my breath away…such perfection! I must study Michelangelo when I get home…I have seen so much of his art while in Italy and it moves me each time. After seeing those sights, we walked to Ponte Vecchio where I sat on the bridge overlooking the river and had some gelati with Allison while Maria and Rosiemara shopped. After that, we went to the Piazzale Michelangelo again to see the sunset with no clouds…this was a perfect day! It rained last night, so the weather today was cool and windy…such a nice change from the hot sweaty weather I have had every other day of this trip. The sunset was lovely…we watched the mountains swallow up the sun in a matter of moments. As soon as it slipped away, everyone on the piazza applauded! So much fun! We caught the bus back to town and enjoyed a dinner outside before heading back in to the hostel. We all have early mornings tomorrow: Allison and I are going to Venice–yay!–and Maria and Rosiemara are going to the beach. I have come alive again with these girls…I was having a difficult time just before I met back up with them. Six solid days was a long time to spend in a foreign country by myself. It’s amazing how these things work out! I didn’t even know these girls three weeks ago! That is where there is so much organic beauty in travelling alone…no set agenda, and flexibility and spontaneity reign supreme!