You only get one chance to make a first impression, right? Well, Florence is a pretty great place to represent, if that adage also applies to entire countries.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this city, especially when one of the first things I saw out of the airplane window when we landed was a giant IKEA.
After we packed into a little taxi and embarked further into the city, though, I quickly came to realize everything in Florence seems small, compact, cramped, and confined.
Tiny cars navigating their way around pedestrians through narrow, winding, cobbled streets.
Buildings stacked like blocks on top of each other–all different shapes, sizes, and colors, each one seemingly unique.
You think about how a city with so much depth, so much history, so much character, has had to adapt over time…I’d say Florence has aged gracefully and acclimated pretty well, all things considered.
But who’s asking.
After settling in, our first venture out led us to the historic Ponte Vecchio bridge nearby.
From inside, as you’re coming upon the bridge, squeezing through crowds of people bustling by, you see both sides of the street lined with shops vying for your attention, as glistening jewelry and shiny trinkets catch your eye with each passing window.
The bridge itself is a pause in the seemingly endless string of shops, drawing your gaze out over Arno River.
We moseyed around there until it was time to head back to our hotel for dinner. On the roof.
Yes. The roof.
If you ever have the opportunity to dine on a rooftop, ever, anywhere, at any point in your life, I highly recommend it. (Except maybe on your own roof, because that could be dangerous. Unless it’s designed for that kind of thing. I digress.)
Enriching. Humbling. Breathtaking. It certainly set the bar high for the rest of the trip.
But beyond the beautiful views were beautiful people. Rafael and Esmerelda will welcome you to their tables like you’re family. He will serve you his finest year of water. She will share with you a recipe for homemade gnocchi, just to prove how easy it is to make, as well as her leaf collection she just gathered from the trellis by the stairs.
Speaking of gnocchi:
This was hands down one of the best meals I had. Fluffy, creamy, pillowy puff balls of potato pasta topped with a butter sauce and shaved truffles.
I confess, I’m glad there was bread to sop it up, or I might have had to lick the plate clean.
Such a delightful introduction. Nice to meet you, Florence. I couldn’t wait to get to know you more.