I wrote this first travel post several days ago, but unfortutely wifi access here is a bit unpredictable, so my posts may be less frequent and sporadic than hoped. I can't believe we've been traveling for a week! It almost feels like we've been here forever to be honest. I was worried that the days would fly by and we wouldn't feel like we had enough time in each city, but so far, having just visited Florence, the Tuscan countryside and Cinque Terre, I can say that the timing seems appropriate. We flew into Milan and took a train to Florence on Wednesday, March 25. Flying into Milan saved us $500 on our plane tickets and was well worth a little extra hassle. The main Milan airport isn't as large or as confusing as U.S. ones (like Chicago or Atlanta), but there was a bit of construction so that made it a little tricky for us to find the bus to the train station. Neither of us slept well on the 8-hour overnight flight there, so we both struggled to stay awake on the hour-long bus ride into Milan and then one-and-a-half hour train ride to Florence. After the quick power naps and unloading our gear at our first accommodation of the trip, the Embassy Hotel, an updated space with a good-sized room, leaky shower, and a free full breakfast, we were ready to explore!
Florence is too gorgeous to explain in mere words. Unfortunately the wifi is too slow to upload all the photos I took on our camera those first few days, but just pause in your reading now, and google images of Florence. The food is superb (best pasta I've ever eaten!), the narrow winding streets are straight out of my dreams, there is art and lovely architecture around every corner, and you can easily meander from one side of the town to the either with barely breaking a sweat. Needless to say, I loved Florence! I almost wish we were spending an entire two weeks there, yet even three days seemed an appropriate amount of time. I enjoy traveling by walking over sightseeing, so that is mostly what we did. And ate a lot of gelato too of course! We walked past all the churches, art museums, up the stairs of the Duomo to the very top of the dome and marveled at all of Florence. We went to the Accademia (saw The David) and the Uffizi, walked across every bridge, including the Ponche Vecchio bridge and I ogled all the ridiculously enormous and shiny objects. We enjoyed a lunch of bufali mozzarella and cherry tomato pizza in the old part of town. On Friday, we hiked up to the top of the old town to an old fort, then back down the hill to spend the rest of the day exploring the Palace Vitti and Buboli Gardens. The gardens felt as if they sprawled across an area even larger than Florence itself, and we left just as the sun was beginning to set. We enjoyed our favorite pasta that evening at Trattori 13 Gobbi, a place highly recommended by a friend, and we were very grateful for the tip!
On Saturday, we rented a moped from a small rental shop and headed to the Tuscan countryside. This area specializes in Chianti wine, which is made of at least 80% sangiovese grapes from the region between Florence and Siena. We discovered after several tastings that we very much like Chianti wine! I have only rode on the back of a moped once before (thanks Matt!) and I'm so grateful for that past brave act, because I don't think I would have had the nerve to do it. Best decision ever! Thus far on this trip, it was my favorite day, and definitely in my top 5 all-time favorites. The Tuscan countryside, with its rolling hills and winding roads, is breathtakingly beautiful. The weather was perfect that day, and I couldn't think of a better way to have experienced it all than on a moped with my husband. It almost made me want to let him buy a motorcycle some day. Almost.
I'll try to occasionally post here, depending on ongoing wifi access, and keep writing in my travel journal (thanks Greenlights!) so I can remember every single aspect of this amazing journey. We spent three days in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre and just arrived in Fribourg, Switzerland. I plan to get a post up on Cinque Terre in the next day or two, but until then, we'll be exploring Switzerland and hopefully burning through some more mileage on the FitBit my sister-in-law leant us. Arriverderci!