Arriving in Florence, I made my way to the hostel I had booked and had previously stayed in. Trying to figure out a game plan, I wound up meeting some nice girls at the computer desks and we all went out for a pretty decent wine and pizza dinner. We decided that gelato was also necessary and walked around in search of some. We returned back to the hostel and chatted for a little while before heading to bed.
I had woken up early and grabbed the strangest breakfast selection of my trip. There was rolls, tiramisu, fried rice, eggs, milkshakes and leftover pasta. I carefully selected a couple of rolls since everything else was deemed unfit for breakfast consumption. I had planned to go on the free walking tour offered by the hostel, but the roommates I had decided that hogging the one and only bathroom for 2.5 hours was more important. So I missed out, and when I was finally able to get in the shower, the previous tenants left a shag carpet of hair. It was DISGUSTING. I went to a different bathroom where the lights would turn out ever 5 minutes, but I was at least clean. I went for a walk around the city, getting slightly lost and walking back following the river. After I got back, I cancelled the rest of my reservation to move to a new hostel. I walked over to another hostel to make a reservation for the rest of my time in Florence. I then plotted and planned the remainder of my trip before grabbing dinner and calling it a night.
I woke up, grabbing another round of rolls and set out on the free walking tour, which took us around the city and was about 2 hours long. I walked back to move my bag to PLUS Florence and then set out on the city. I walked the tower and checked out Palazzo Vecchio. Ooh, funny story. I was walking through one of the rooms and the guard was fast asleep in his chair and farted so loud that he woke himself up, like a dog. he looked around and then kind of just went back to sleep. After all that amusement, I went to the raved about All’Antico Viniao. They werent kidding. I had an amazing HUGE sandwich for only €5. Definitely worth it. I then went back to the hostel to settle in, check out a few things then grab a bite in the restaurant downstairs. When I got into my room, the only bed left was the top one, so I put on the sheets (something I still have yet to master) and climbed in, only for the bed to be uneven and rock from side to side. Definitely did not provide the best sleep, but at least my roommates weren’t slobs.
I woke up, grabbed a cornetto (Italian version of a croissant) and headed for the train station. I was off to Pisa to check out this leaning tower that I had heard so much about. Ha! The town itself is pretty big, but easy to navigate and with only 20-25 minutes of walking, I approached the tower from the side and was convinced this was something out of a cartoon. I couldn’t believe that I was actually there. I bought my ticket to climb, a pricey €18, but we were able to go into the cathedral as well. Interesting, but nothing to write home about. I tried taking several selfies of me with the tower before giving up and asking a nice Canadian family if they wouldn’t mind. So, I got my picture with the tower without looking like a crazy person. Yay! I put my bag in the drop off area with a very disgruntled man and made my way to the line for my time slot. My group then started the climb. It was such a strange feeling because you could feel the push and pull as you wound up the Tower. I got to the top and was able to take a few pictures and walk around before being told that the group’s time was up. Thought it was a little crazy that we paid so much money to spend ten minutes at the top, but still a cool experience and glad that I did it, so I don’t have to do it again 🙂 After climbing, I grabbed a panino and some gelato and made my way back to the train station to head back to Florence.
I had previously booked a Tuscan wine tasting experience and today was the day! I grabbed my daily cornetto and made my way to the meeting point. We were loaded into a small van and sat in Florence traffic for 30 minutes before finally getting out it. Our group consisted of 7 women, including myself. It was a fun group, made up of mostly American and my one new Swedish friend. We got to our first wine tasting and sampled far too much, but we did get to try olive oil, 30 year balsamic vinegar and truffle oil (my new favorite!) We boarded back into the van and headed to our next tasting which also included lunch. I don’t know what they did to the food or if it was the copious amounts of wine talking, but this was some of the best food I have ever tasted. The tomatoes were so fresh, and if anyone knows me, tomatoes are like my life. I love them in every and all possible forms. Our final stop for the day was this small medieval town called San Gigniamano, where we picked up the world’s best gelato. Legit, they won world’s best gelato in 2006-07 and 2008-09. I got 3 scoops in a cone and it was worth it. Fabulous views of the Tuscany region as well. After all that fun, we made our way back to Florence, where I passed out and didn’t wake up from my nap until the next morning. Whoops.
I woke up feeling a bit under the weather. I had planned to go to Cinque Terre, but time and energy got away from me. Plus, half the trail was closed due to a landslide. I decided to lounge around until I felt a bit better, which finally happened around 1pm. By the way, feeling like crap in a dorm and no one to help you is probably the worst feeling ever. I found a cheap place where I got 3 slices of focaccia (one potato&rosemary, one zucchini and one tomato). I walked across the river to grab some gelato (I need my one a day) and made my way over to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is famous for its beautiful views of the city. On my way, this weird Italian guy decided to go with me and try to speak with me in Italian. Not happening, buddy. I got to the top, took some amazing photos and then promptly made my way back to (and away from creepy dude) the hostel. I grabbed some bruschetta and made my plans for Amalfi Coast. I decided to go back to Napoli and leave on the train the following afternoon.
I packed up all of my stuff, forgetting my quick dry towel of course and checked out. With the time change that had happened, it was now getting darker an hour earlier and I didn’t want to arrive in Naples after dark. I made my way to the train station, grabbed a panino and hopped on the train.
Overall, I would NOT recommend Archi Rossi or PLUS hostels. Archi Rossi was just dirty and PLUS had huge groups of teenagers every night that I stayed, which meant yelling in the halls until 2am. And they didn’t do too much about it. My bed was uncomfortable in both places and for the price of those hostels, I don’t think it was worth it. Also, PLUS had booked me into an all-female dorm, but halfway through my stay, two guys shared the room. I was pretty upset and let them know that, but everything else was booked up, thanks to the groups. I found out later that they have over 700 beds at PLUS. I was pretty disappointed, to say the least.