Monday, April 13th: We made our way to Florence, which I timed so I could easily fly back with Emily & Bailey. This way, by the end of the week, I’d be in town for when ~Connor & Tailor~ arrived for our Lizzie McGuire Adventure in Italia! WOO
This also meant that I burdened Emily with my presence for the whole week before the rest of the gang got there. And I slept on her couch the whole time and her awesome roommates were probably like THE HECK HOMIE GET OUT – but they are all so spectacular, & they made me feel so welcome and at home the entire time I was there ❤ S/O to you guys
This was my view on the way to Italy. That’s fine.
As soon as we got to Florence, Emily and I walked to her apartment – where I met her awesome roomies – dropped off our stuff, and then headed straight to lunch. I got to try the legendary “Pino’s” sandwich shop, and my goodness it was dang delicious. We took our lunches to the front courtyard of Santa Croce, a church that is so beautiful to look at it almost looks fake.
After we devoured our sandwiches (okay, Emily ate normally, but I was done in like 3 minutes..), we walked to the Arno River (there ARE NO other rivers there LOL HAH HAH Emily made that joke okay). We first saw the unique “Ponte Vecchio” bridge. Emily is an excellent tour guide, and she told me it was the bridge that the Medici family (they ran that ish yo) used to cross the city to get from one Palace to the other. It used to be filled up & down with butchers and their shops, but then the Medicis were like, “excuse meh, NOPE.” So then it became lined up with the more prestigious jewelers and merchants, who still fill up the bridge to this day. It is a beauty to see from afar as well (it can get very crowded close up):
See all the tiny stores on it? Sew kewl.
There were lots of other bridges too, and the river was just so cool.
Emily and I then stumbled upon my first glimpse of what gelato is like in this beautiful country. And we made a pact: we vowed to have gelato every single day of my trip in Florence – a “gelato tour” of sorts. A gentleman’s agreement HUZZAH.
Hey look, the Ponte Vecchio again!
First gelato. I cried a bit, and then I wouldn’t shut up about it.
That night we met up with Bailey & Emily’s roomies, Sam & Gaby, to play trivia at a restaurant called, Red Garter. This was wonderful because during one round, we got a sheet with pictures of every Star Wars characters on it and we had to name them all, so yo gurl was right in her element. CA-CHING. (I mean, we didn’t win, but maybe JAWAS shouldn’t have a name so hard to remember??)
They are just wannabe Ewoks and we all know it.
Delicious burgers at Red Garter
Tuesday, April 14th: Emily had class the majority of this day, so I got to be by myself and really soak up Florence for a few hours on my own with HP & The Goblet of Fire. Or at least, soak up the three designated spots Emily and I had picked out for me to chill in, so that I wouldn’t get lost/taken/disappeared.
I got to sit on the steps of Santa Croce, constantly switching between people-watching and reading, and then sometimes simply sitting there in the half-shade/sun thing that was going on.
I then took a picture of the church’s massive doors, and wanting one of myself to show for comparison, I tried asking a group of Italian (or so I presumed) women, if they could take my photo. They were super sweet, and I kept saying “grazie” to them, and they kept smiling. Then they gestured to ask if I could take their picture, to which I of course obliged. Only for them to say goodbye after with a happy “merci!” OOPS. French? Italian? Do I understand anything?
The picture in question.
After my delightful encounter with the French women, two young Italian guys approached me and sat by me. In my head I was like “oh dear,” but I was still polite to them as they asked me in broken English, if I wanted a cigarette & if I spoke Italian. To which of course, I said no. However, we proceeded to talk on my phone through Google Translate, which was all good and fun for a while. But they eventually asked me if I wanted to “take a ride with them?”
The one more aggressive guy was egging on the other though, and I could tell the nicer of the two (his name was Leonardo) knew I didn’t want to go anywhere with them, so he was nice & said goodbye and took his friend with him. They were super young and silly & we were surrounded by people, so I was never in any danger or anything – so I kind of liked the experience of talking to someone through a technological device, and seeing how something like a website on a tiny screen can bridge the gap between cultures & languages.
My suitors walking away from me. Sigh.
I got this close to a bird & it didn’t leave me!
I gots a delicious sandwich too.
Pretty pano views.
I also got to sit with Emily’s sweet and awesome roomie, Gaby, for a while and we later got coffee & sweets together and it was so cute. And then we met up with Emily after her class and we all went to get gelato. YES:
With the guy behind us looking suspiciously like Neal/Old-Baelfire from Once Upon A time. Just Saying:
Wednesday, April 15th: Emily only had a later class (around 3) this day, and *I* got to accompany her to it! Her class was going on a field trip to the “Palazzo Pitti” or the Pitti Palace, which was once home to, of course, the Medici family. We met up with Emily’s class on the Ponte Vecchio, where I got to see this view:
This picture reminds me loads and loads of this painting that is in my living room at home that I sometimes stare at for inappropriately long periods of time when I’m back in Roswell:
“When I inherit all yo things, can that be the first thing I get?” – actual thing I’ve asked my mom multiple times about this painting
Being cute, waiting for Emily’s classmates.
Confirmation: Emily’s teacher was the cutest, most Italian woman I have ever met. She was so kind and she is obsessed with Emily and she was so sweet to me too.
This is her teaching us things inside the Palace.
This is a painting inside the Palace of a woman with her breasts cut off and put on a platter. You know.
After her class, Emily and I made our way to “apertivo” which is basically like Spanish “tapas,” so we paid 5 euros for a full buffet & drink, and man was it delicious. The restaurant we went to is run by Emily’s school’s culinary students, and they kept bringing out more and more yummy snacks and it was SO good. I may have gone for like, 5 rounds but it’s fine.
After the apertivo, we met up with Emily’s roomie, Sam, and had delicious gelato #3.
Thursday, April 16th: The next day, Emily and I ventured to the markets, where we wandered around the Central Market and got lunch on one of its multiple floors. I got my first Italian pizza and it was just so good, guys:
After we got heckled at by every leather-market-seller, Emily and I made our way down to the Arno again, and this time, sat along side it. We proceeded to take cute pictures:
OH stahp it you ❤
Self-timers for the win! Also, we’re a couple.
I mostly remember us goofing off, trying to get the perfect picture & thinking we had failed. But looking back, the pictures are just perfect the way they are. I also remember that Emily did that thing where she lets me go on and on about Star Wars for way too long. She does that a lot, and I hope she knows I appreciate it.
After sitting by the river for a bit, we decided to stop by a cafe real quick. You see, Taylor A was coming into Florence for the weekend & staying with Bailey, so Bailey is super cool and was going to cook us all dinner that night because she’s super domestic like that. But Emily and I decided we had just enough time for a quick glass of wine beforehand.
This quick glass of wine turned into an in-depth, hour-long discussion about everything under the Tuscan sun (heh). One not so atypical of an Emu & Sarahj chat, but it definitely hit home more now that we are 20 & 21, sipping wine in Italy, talking about our futures: our families, our potential timelines, our lives in general.
Emily put it into words best in her post about it, in that she said even though we have talked about these types of things before (marriage, kids, jobs, etc.), it was always in a “one day” matter: sitting at 2nd grade school lunch, in our bedrooms looking at our crushes in the yearbooks, at the pool during the summer after 8th grade.
Here’s an artsy pic to calm down the intense mood.
Friday, April 17th: Connor was arriving later in the day (hooray!), so Emily and I started off the morning going to the Boboli Gardens, which are by the Pitti Palace. They should really be called Narnia or The Secret Gardens or something, because they were entrancing and peaceful and beautiful:
Emily had to pee.
Emily is a statue.
OMG which one is Emily?
A dinosaur egg interrupted our adventures.
Princess Diaries is a main theme of this SA experience (and apparently no one wants you on their lawn in Europe).
We got gelato #5 after BAM
We had earlier tried to go to Emily’s favorite church, Santo Spirito – but it had been closed 😦 But then fate stepped in, and we stopped by it after our gelato and it was OPEN! It was so beautiful on the inside, and I loved hearing Emily talk about it. At one point, I looked up and told Emily how beautiful the ceiling was.
I couldn’t take pictures inside, but I snagged a photo outside to show just how big it was.
By then, it was time to find Connor at the train station! We easily found him, and after we dropped his stuff off at Emily’s, we went to get dinner, where we gorged ourselves with pizza & pasta & all things Italian. Afterward, we headed back to Emily’s for the night, because we had to get up early to get Tailor from the train station the next morning (DOUBLE hooray!).
When we got back to Emily’s, we decided it was an inevitable movie night. We chose to watch Cadet Kelly, only to get a bit annoyed with the wannabe-Lizzie-McGuire Kelly, so then we switched over to Anastasia instead. This was one of our better decisions. It was cool too, because during the “Paris holds the key to your heart” song sequence, there’s a scene where all the characters are on top of the Arc De Triomphe. Connor was like “Hey, we’ve been on top of there,” and for the 700th time on study abroad journey, I had that surreal moment of WOAH we had been there. ~Surreal~.
We also skyped Drew for a bit, during which I mostly chatted with him about Star Wars (the new trailer came out while I was in Florence, so can we expect any less?), only to find out Connor and Emily hadn’t seen either of the new teaser trailers that had been released. So we watched those too (they love me so much).
Mirror selfies (Emily and Sam just let us lay on their beds and watch the movies. They are the best people ever).
We got to try “Gusto” Pizza, which was beyond better than anything I’ve ever eaten.
Connor got all scenic in front of the Ponte Vecchio.
We went to the Pitti Palace again and we decided we wanted a very “Italian picture” on its hill. Upon hopping the rail fence in order to get a good picture (rebelling is what we do best), we quickly scrammed from the premises in order to not get thrown in Italian jail and deported. However, that meant Tailor and I making fun of Connor tripping while running, and then us falling completely on our faces right after. And then me struggling to climb over the fence while my “friends” laugh at me. Typical:
We got even more rebellious and scaled one of the bridges on the Arno and got these killer shots (before we were yelled at by mere commoners telling us what we were doing was illegal. Yeah, okay, thanks peasants:
Connor loves us.
My best friends and a special appearance by Sarah Johnson-Foot!
We got gelato #6 afterwards, and it was “toooo mucchhh.”
Then we explored:
If you can’t tell, as a friend group, we like selfies. So much in fact, that we even got harassed by a selfie-stick seller guy near the Duomo (he just knew):
Then we found fakeDavid and Connor seemed confused:
There were a lot of statues nearby in the Palazzo della Signoria, which basically became our free museum (we just don’t like to spend money). And because we are obnoxious and embarrassing Americans, we took 1000+ photos mimicking the statues. Connor got obsessive and we had to get it just right, so struggles ensued:
Connor gets aggressive.
“We are the statue”
Tailor told Connor to strangle me (as usual). And then of course, he did:
“One of my favorite things, is how Connor casually bullies Sarahj” – Tailor
Then we climbed to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo and it was perfect. We shared a bottle of Prosecco, ate cheese & bread, and generally had our usual shenanigans while also taking a million pictures:
We are so cute.
We even saw a wedding at the top and sighed over all the love surrounding us.
Taylor beckoned Connor to do “the Sarah” with her and the can’t-handle-this Emily. Sigh.
Us and our closest 20 pals ❤
We are #goals
It was again, so surreal, to be sitting with my best friends on top of all of Florence, watching the world around us. But it was also sad, because the whole time we kept getting upset that Sibel and Alexis weren’t there. So instead we just talked about them a lot, in order to make it feel like they were *sobbing* 😦 Miss you guys always.
After we had stared off into the city limits, we explored the nearby gardens (?) and found the Trevi fountain!
Tailor found love.
We found out what actually sunk the Titanic.
We also found a river-rat. NOT a cat. Not a cat, Tailor.
We later met up with Taylor A, Bailey, & her roommate Alyssa, at Dante’s – an Italian restaurant with delicious food and unlimited wine (how?). Exhibit A:
We ended the night celebrating Connor’s 21st birthday at midnight! That’s right, we planned our gang reunion around his special day (we totally did that on purpose, what are you talking about). Taylor and I were flying out around 9pm the next day (meaning we’d have to leave Florence around 6), so we got in a few more adventures the next morning.
Sunday, April 19th: These adventures included getting a 1st lunch, which was 2 slices of pizza each, from a cafe. There wasn’t much seating, so we headed to Santa Croce for a nice view and an area to eat. Connor then came up with the brilliant idea for us to get our portrait commissioned in Florence, so that one day, the gang will be hanging up in the museums your peasant children will be touring in and viewing. We’ll be timeless.
An epic movie poster picture was taken while the gang was contemplating what our poses would be in our portrait.
Our brains were overloaded with planning, so we stopped for my final gelato on our tour, and it was such a bittersweet ending.
After, we stopped at a cafe where we all crowded around a small table and sipped on our varying coffees. This was probably the greatest moment ever, because even though Connor refuses to tell it on my birthdays (even though I beg him to), he finally told the “Except for Ryan” story on his birthday. And it was the greatest thing that’s ever happened, ever.
If you don’t know what the “Except for Ryan” story is, please ask any of us in the Gang about it, and we will gladly harass Connor for you, in order for him to tell it properly. It’s worth it, I promise (maybe).
And then because we are hungry beasts, we stopped for a 2nd lunch, at a place where I had the most delicious pasta ever (I’ve said that about every meal in Italy…). I don’t have a picture of my dish (which Tailor said looked like worms. I told her, no silly, it looked like intestines), but I do have a pic of Connor’s..? Which was the same thing:
I’d like to point out that Emily’s roomie, Sam, accompanied us this day and was a total rock star for putting up, and even being quite fascinated, by our friend group. We literally spoke in our inside-joke language the whole day, laughed uncontrollably, and she even enjoyed hearing Connor tell the Ryan story. Who does that? Sam, you’re cool.
After all this fun, it was time for Tailor and I to leave the city of Firenze (friends?). Connor would be flying out the next morning, but we had our flight at 9:15pm. We said our tearful/awkward goodbyes and headed to the Pisa airport on a delightful bus ride, which included long life talks and motion sickness – all good things.
The Pisa airport is super tiny & easy to navigate, however we found out our flight was delayed for about an hour (until 10:15pm) upon arriving, so we were super early. We decided to head to our gate anyways to eat something and just chill. This was both a mistake and an adventure considering our gate waiting area was the sketchiest place ever/there was one food option/NO OUTLETS/people were forming a coup around us and things were generally weird. We sent selfies & snaps to our pals for help but they were 100% done with us:
Come on guys. (Tailor is on le floor because that was the closest outlet at the time, until two workers took my phone into their back room and charged it for me……risks were taken)
After arriving back in London and saying another sad goodbye to Tailor, it was already almost 1:30am. Which meant I had two options: 1.) take the Gatwick Express back to Victoria station and then take a cab to my apartment from there (since the tube doesn’t open until 5:30am) or 2.) wait in the Gatwick Airport until about 4:30am, take the Express to Victoria, then take the tube home once it opened.
I’m a super cheap, so guess who became besties with the Gatwick Airport for an all-nighter? This of course included countless texts & selfies sent to my mother who told me at least a dozen times, “DO NOT FALL ASLEEP!!!!”
I also sent delirious snap chats to my Ginerva Weasley all night long, to which she probably thought I had lost it (I had, I had indeed lost it).
But alas my friends, 5:30am did roll around, and I arrived back to my good ol’ Shoreditch just as the sun was rising. Sometimes, things are very much worth it:
Now, all jokes aside, I had the time of my life in Florence.
This trip embodied one of those moments when you realize, it’s not so much where you are, or what you’re doing, it’s about the people you’re with. And I could have honestly been in Alexis’ basement with the Gang, just talking about all these adventures, instead of actually being there having them, and I’d be having just as much fun. Because those are the kind of friends they are, making every moment an adventure.
I always think that hanging with the gang is like reading a good book: you always come back a little bit changed, a little bit more educated, a little bit more content with life.
Cheers Xx, and until next time,