by Bryanna Blechschmidt
Since arriving in Florence, one thing I have noticed about my time is the abundance of half days. Whether it be from morning classes, internships, or just flat out sleeping until mid afternoon, my days often seemed to be cut shorter than I would have liked. And while spending the rest of the day snacking on pizza and gelato was fun for the first 3 weeks, I finally dedicated this past weekend to figuring out a way to make a little better use of my time and money for my last few weeks in Italy.
First was the Piazzale Michelangelo. Friday night, a group of girlfriends and I grabbed a cheap bottle of wine and hiked the trek up to what has to be one of Florence’s most breathtaking views. We grabbed some gelato at the top, since we have now become addicted, found a spot on the steps of the Piazza, and watched what I truly believe will be the most beautiful sunset I will ever see in my life!! As if the view wasn’t amazing enough, local artist cycled in to serenade the crowd the whole night, which in my opinion made the experience even more amazing! Then we spent the rest of the night wandering around the area and enjoying the night views as we continued to climb without spending a single euro.
Saturday, we decided to spend the smokin’ hot day in museums (AIR CONDITIONING!!) and explore the more educational roots of Florence. Number one tip when visiting florence: Amici degli Uffizi pass!! The membership card gets you in to over 16 of Florence’s most well known museums all around Florence with privileged admission at most, meaning you get to skip all those ridiculous lines. And the best part is it’s only 40 euro when you are 26 or younger for a full year. So if you plan on seeing more than 4 museums in your time here, it comes out to a pretty perfect deal. So we packed a lunch (to avoid spending more than necessary) and spent the entire day walking around the Uffizi Gallery admiring some of the most famous works of art in Italy’s history. On the walk home, we noticed we passed 3 more museums that are also on the list of free entry with the pass, meaning making use of the membership card was going to be even easier than expected.
After we rolled out of bed Sunday, we decided last minute to take a trip to Pisa. Why not, right? After sprinting to the train station to catch the 1:58 train, (trains to Pisa leave twice an hour, almost every day) bought our €7,10 ticket, we missed the train. Being three girls with very little knowledge on trains in general, our first instinct was to begin panicking. However, news to us, when you miss the train to Pisa, all you have to do is…get on the next one. Yep, it’s that simple. So we finally made our way there in a quick 49 minutes and jumped in line with all the other tourists en route to the tower. We packed a lunch again today to avoid spending money on anything other than the essentials (gelato) and sat in the grass in front of the world famous Leaning Tower and spent the day enjoying the ambiance of Pisa.
We are crazy not to have been taking advantage of these easy trips and day activities around Florence for the past few weeks but after seeing how much fun, and how incredibly cheap you can make it, we will be sure to be planning a lot more of these into our daily routines!
Bryanna is currently in Florence studying Italian and doing an internship at Istituto Europeo. Back in the States she is a student at Western Washington University.