Palazzo Pitti, Piazza, Pisa, and (of course) Pizza and Pasta

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, 3. Observing, Florence, Places by Anjali1 Comment

I’ve now been in Florence for almost a month. It simultaneously feels like I’ve been here forever and like I just got here. I still don’t know my way around the city, I’ve been without a smartphone for over a week, we’ve had another power outage and I’ve spent most of my weekends not even in Florence, but yet, it’s beginning to feel like home!

This weekend, my friend from Vienna took an overnight bus to visit me and my twin sister in Florence. In fact, she’s sitting across from me right now, reading a book in the cozy café of Villa Ulivi. Naturally, because she had travelled from so far away, we used the weekend to explore Florence and the area around Florence more than the previous weekends. It was an interesting experience to have a high school friend (I went to a German school in New York, so most of my friends moved back to Europe after high school) visit me in an environment that was so new to both of us, but whereas she’s just visiting for a weekend, I call it my home for the next few months. I’ve never had an experience like that before; it felt kind of like having moved somewhere new, which I never have, and introducing my “new home” to an old friend.

On Friday, we used the day to explore the Boboli Gardens around the Pitti Palace. (Since my last name is Pitti, this felt like a must-see site in Florence) The glory of the palace grounds made me feel incredibly joyous about the fact that I will get to explore all of the natural beauty Florence and Tuscany have to offer during the next few months!

On Saturday, we took a day trip to Pisa to look at the Leaning Tower. We ended up barely spending time at the tower, but walking around through the beautiful streets, admiring the river, and buying small pieces of unique jewelry in the marketplace. As we made our way back to the train station, though, we ventured into an abandoned yard off the side of the road that looked like it was a garden, open to the public. It ended up being the parking garage of an abandoned apartment building. Right after we entered, the about ten feet tall spiked iron gate closed automatically, trapping us inside. We attempted to climb over the brick wall in the back of the yard, but that failed. Then, one of us had the idea to climb the tall spiky gate, which looked rather daunting. Most of us ended up being forced to climb, with the help of a man on the outside of the gate. Fortunately, when it was my turn to climb, a lady walked by who had the key to the gate. I was so relieved; I’m often afraid of heights. I feel like this episode is another case of realizing that the things you least expect to go wrong can go wrong, even if it’s something highly unlikely and absurd — and afterwards, it seems almost comedic. You never know what to expect! All of these small misadventures that keep happening to me are definitely helping me take things in stride more easily and become less perturbed when things don’t go exactly as they are supposed to.

The next day, we rented some bikes and biked up to Piazzale Michelangelo and along the river. None of us knew where we were going, but “getting lost” in Florence was surprisingly fun! On a bike, you see the city differently. The pedestrians that we usually are suddenly seem annoying and slow and should just keep to the sidewalks, while the cars, like always, seem too big for the narrow cobblestone streets.

I’ll definitely remember last weekend as just as eventful as every previous weekend I’ve had, despite only leaving Florence for a day, and I’m excited to see what will happen next!


  1. I was present for this experience. So much could have gone wrong when we got trapped in the “parking lot” that simultaneously looked like an old barn – what if the gate had not been climbable at all or it had gotten dark? Maybe we could have called the police, but what if our phones had died, or we had been detained for trespassing? I am glad we all kept our cool, even though it seemed scary and like there was no way out in the beginning. I almost expected something bad to happen that day because the beginning of the day just started out too perfectly to be true. However, this scenario was so absurd and unexpected and surprisingly funny, looking back.

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