(Featured photo is Florence from Fiesole)
Last time I talked about all of the trips that I’ve taken while living in Italy along with all the things available to do in Florence. This week I’m going to share which places were my favorites. I’ll start off first with my only trip outside of Italy, which was Greece -and more specifically- Sparta.
I know I’ve already talked about Sparta previously, so I’ll try to keep this brief. This place was truly amazing, as a kid I had read so many stories about Greece so when I had the opportunity to visit the country I knew I couldn’t pass it up. As the bus from Athens came out of the final hills on the way to Sparta I was immediately in awe. You could see the whole town spread out in front of you, and behind the town -dwarfing everything- were the Taygetos mountains, still with snow covered peaks. My Airbnb host picked me up from the bus station and he was one of the nicest people I have ever met, over the course of the week he introduced me to his family, showed me his olive tree farm and went on several excursions to nearby towns with me. While in Sparta I went hiking in the mountains for nearly seven hours and the views were spectacular. I took a walk through the ruins of ancient Sparta, which while not as intact as those in Athens, it was still surreal to walk through. The entire area was empty of other people and I was the only one walking through as the wind whistled through the olive trees and tall grass. I also visited the nearby walled Byzantine town of Mystras, which was fascinating to see and still houses an active monastery.
Next up is Palermo
While I was only there for a day and a half visiting a friend, the city was amazing to see, I think we walked 15 miles on the first day as my friend took me on a tour of the most popular sites. Additionally, the food there was some of the best that I’ve had while in Italy. I wish I had been able to spend more time in Palermo because you can’t truly experience a city in less than two days. I will definitely go back some day.
Now we have Napoli
Napoli was quite the experience. I had never seen photos of Napoli before visiting and I didn’t know too much about the city going there, but it has so much to offer. The first day I was there we walked around searching for a beach, upon finding one we decided to go for a swim, which drew some odd looks from the locals because it was definitely too cold and too early in the year to be swimming. The next day we travelled to Pompeii, which was incredible to walk through. Pompeii was also much larger than I had previously anticipated, you could easily spend hours walking through the town. Later that day, my friend and I waited in line for a little over 2.5 hours at Gino Sorbillo for what was arguably the best pizza in the world.
Now for some of my favorite things to do in Florence. First is All’Antico Vinaio, the most popular sandwich shop in Florence. Located close to the Arno, this shop has a permanent line of customers outside, so be prepared to wait. My favorite place for pizza in the city is Pizzeria Totò, a small little shop in the city center. It’s a great place to grab a slice of pizza for lunch and walk around, or grab one of the 8 chairs inside. One of my favorite excursions near Florence was walking the trail in Fiesole. Just a quick bus ride from the city will get you to the comune of Fiesole, located in the hills surrounding Florence. The trail is a relatively short and easy walk and at the end there is another great place for pizza.
This semester has been absolutely amazing, it’s hard for me to believe that the end of the semester is already here. I’m torn: on one hand I’m excited to get back to the U.S. and see my family and friends, but on the other, I would not be opposed to staying in Italy longer.
Until next time,