At the end of October, I went on a week-long trip to Italy. For the first half of the trip, I met up with a friend and explored the east coast. Then I went off on my own to Florence for the final four days. Here are three things I learned about myself in that time.
- I like taking it slow. Wandering through a neighborhood is often more fulfilling to me than blazing through museum after museum. Sure, maybe I miss out on seeing one of the most famous sculptures in the western world, but in exchange, I get a few hours of contentment discovering quirky street art and architecture, tasting local treats, and stepping into shops that don’t make it onto most tourist maps. The slow work of walking and seeing fills me up.Also in the taking-it-slow vein, I allowed myself the freedom and pleasure of going to bed early during this trip. Thanks to daylight saving time, the sun set around 5pm every day, and the dark and the cold made wandering around a strange city by myself a little less fun. Instead of putting myself in uncomfortable situations for the sake of experiencing as much of Florence as absolutely possible, I let myself off the hook and decided 8pm was an acceptable time to settle down with a book for the night.
- A little bit of planning in the food realm goes a long way. This could be said about many categories (restaurants, museums, transportation, etc), but on this trip, I was particularly aware of how nice it was to have a list of pre-vetted restaurants at the ready. A couple hours of research at home saved me the agony of walking around a strange city, hungry and indecisive. Food is one of my favorite cultural experiences when traveling, so I want to make every meal count. I ended up eating some amazing meals in Florence. See below for my culinary recommendations.
- I am good company. While planning this trip, I was reluctant to spend so many days alone. I am so glad I took the risk, though, because never once did I get tired of being with myself. There were a few times when I wished I had a friend along to share the delicious experience with or for some assistance in deciding between two plans of action, but otherwise, I was perfectly satisfied with my own companionship. I cherished the ability to move at my own pace, to nerd out at an old library for longer than most people would deem necessary, to eat when I was hungry, to sit in a garden and read and people-watch while the sun sank below the horizon. For days I was alone my own thoughts. At the beginning of this trip, that prospect terrified me, but by the end, I had made friends with my mind. Since moving to France, I’ve eaten at a restaurant alone for the first time, took a solo day trip for the first time, and now I’ve done a multi-day trip by myself. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in the independence I am growing into here. There are still things that intimidate me, including the fear of loneliness, but I am learning how capable I am to handle them.
Emily-Approved Florence Restaurants
- La Prosciuterria: I had the most divine sandwich with thinly sliced cured beef, big chunks of cheese, fresh tomatoes, salt, and olive oil on a flat bread. It was my first taste of Florence and set the tone for an excellent visit.
- Le Volpi e l’Uva: This is a wine bar where you can order small dishes as well. I had a glass of white wine and a piece of bread with melted cheese, fresh tomatoes, and olives.
- Tamerò Pizzeria: A hip pizza place. There is a pasta place with the same name that I didn’t get a chance to try but looked really good. I got a pizza with ham and mushrooms.
- Fuori Porta: I was determined to get some pasta in my belly before leaving Italy! At Fuori Porta I had pici (thick round noodles) with wild boar ragù. Paired with a glass of chianti classico, this was one of my favorite meals.