A little bit about travel: Florence, Siena, and Cinque Terre, Italy

Sunday is finally upon us and I thought I should write a bit my recent trip to Italy.

After spending a week in France, I decided to travel to Italy just because I have always wanted to go. I took four years of Italian in high school and was always fascinated by the Italian language and culture, so I was super excited to visit Florence.

Florence was small enough so that you could walk everywhere. Like France, I was in love with the architecture. All of the buildings are well preserved and look old, but beautiful. I especially liked the churches and how the colors of the stones are preserved on the outside. They are also huge. The Duomo was definitely the biggest church I saw, but the Santa Croce church where Michelangelo is buried was also beautiful. Additionally, walking up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, I stumble on the San Miniato Almonte church. I absolutely fell in love with this church mostly because of how beautiful it is on the inside. I also met a fellow New Yorker later on during my trip that was writing his thesis on this church. This made me realize how small this world is. I didn’t take any photos out of respect for the church, but the floors of the church were actually the graves of people. The inscriptions on these graves were so beautiful which made me glad that I understand Italian (although I struggled so much when trying to speak it).

Santa Croce
View of the city- Il Duomo really stands out.
More views of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo
Michelangelo at the Piazzale Michelangelo
Inside San Miniato Almonte

Apart from the churches and the architecture, I also really enjoyed the museums. I am an art lover even though I am no expert. There was a lot of religious themed art in a lot of the museums, which was interesting because I studied some of these works while in college, so I was able to recognize a lot of the painter’s names. However, what I enjoyed the most was the street art, pottery market and the Costume Gallery. The street art was quite funny having drawings of Da Vinci or the Mona Lisa almost in caricature form. These always bought a smile to my face. The pottery market was something I fortuitously stumbled upon when I was going to the Uffizi. Various artists were selling pottery- mugs and plates that they had designed. It was all beautiful and I bought one because I am in love with mugs. Finally, on my visit to the Boboli Gardens and Giardino Bardini, I stumbled upon the Custome museum. They had an exhibition on women’s fashion which reminded me of the MET’s exhibition by Anna Wintour. I was astounded by how they chronicled fashion in the early to mid 1900s.

Street art in Florence
Costume Museum
Giardino Bardini
Il Duomo
Ponte Vecchio
The view from the Uffizi
Statues outside La Galleria

Florence is a small city, so I felt like I had seen most of the city in three days. Since I was staying for five days, I decided to venture outside. I took a tour to Siena and I don’t regret it all. The architecture, the streets that always wind to the city center, the leather shops, the narrow streets, were all beautiful. The stories about the saints and the horse races that occur in Siena, all made it feel like home. Although it was a rainy and cold day, Siena is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.

Siena city view
Winding narrow streets of Siena
Churches in Siena
Each “district” in Siena has it’s own animal as an emblem, this is one of them.

On my last day, I decided to visit Cinque Terre which is a UNESCO protected world site. I wish it had not been raining and as cold as it was on that day because I wanted to go into the sea. However, this was not possible. In one day, we visited Riomaggiore, Manarola and Monterosso (all cities which comprise Cinque Terre). Even though the trains that we took to get to each city were packed with tourists, when we got to the cities, I was always really in awe of the beauty of these places. I would love to live here especially during the summer months. I would never stop sunbathing or being in awe of the vast sea and the beauty of these towns.

Monterosso waves

While in Italy, I decided not to take as many photos because I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to be in the moment and experience everything first hand before even trying to take photos of everything. Due to this, I don’t have any photos of everything I ate. A few things which were amazing were the gelato, pasta, pesto, focaccia, pizza, cappuccinos, and cheese. I would be obese if I lived in Italy because the food was amazing and I was never disappointed by anything I ate.

The only down side to my trip was the sheer number of tourists taking photos of everything and not enjoying the moment. All of these cities are so beautiful that they deserve for people to stop and just stare for a moment. I felt like a lot of people got lost in capturing the moment digitally and not making a memory that would last a lifetime. Additionally, I felt like tourists were appropriating Italian culture without being completely respectful. I had such a hard time speaking Italian but I was always very polite and tried to greet the Italians in their mother tongue when going to shops and restaurants. I am not sure whether they liked this, but it was better than going in as the American who didn’t even try.

I loved Italy. I would like to go back and visit other places. The weeks I was away made me realize that there is so much of the world that I have yet to see…and that there is so much beauty that I am missing out on.

Happy Sunday everyone!




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