dear rome | florence + cinque terre

I hope y’all aren’t getting tired of reading my travel posts yet, because I have a ton more to share! I’m having so much fun reminding myself of how much I’ve seen and done this summer.

Right after visiting the Tuscan countryside, I went with two friends to Florence. We couldn’t stay in the city center because a lot of rooms were booked for that weekend for some reason, so we had to walk a ways in order to get to the center. We stayed at the Resident Select Executive. Great hotel, meh location.

We walked around that first night, where we were met with the beauty of the sunset over the Arno river. We ended the night with some gelato of course!

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The next day, we got up bright and early for our Cinque Terre tour! We decided to book a full-day trip with the ciaoflorence tour group so we wouldn’t have to worry about transportation. Our tour guide’s name was Stefano (so many Stefanos on this trip, lolz) and he spoke Italian, Spanish, and English! Super cool guy.

The first city we stopped in was Manarola. This one has to be my favorite, since it has the iconic Cinque Terre cliffside view! The city itself is incredibly crammed and small, and really not much to do. Some people were cliff-diving, but my friends and I just walked to the top. We really didn’t need more than two hours there. Following Manarola, we took a 5-minute train to Vernazza. This one was a little boring for us since the city was also very small and there was a little church, but no cliffs to look at.

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After that, we headed to Monterosso. This one’s probably the biggest because there’s an actual beach with tons of umbrellas lined up on shore and a handful of restaurants. It actually really reminded me of the Amalfi Coast – if I hadn’t already been, I’d be pretty amazed at Monterosso’s beach and view. We stopped at Cantina di Miky for lunch, and it was super delicious. We sat outside under the sheltered area and while the food was amazing, we witnessed the most bizarre customer service situation. A female passerby had accidentally knocked down the restaurant’s large decorative pots and shattered it – the waiter angrily demanded them to pay for it (rightfully so), but the female and her husband tried walking away from it! It was quite the stirrup and it was really awkward for us customers eating at the restaurant, watching the waiter yell at the passers-by. After lunch, we walked around the town for a bit, looking at souvenir shops and such.

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Our last town of Cinque Terre we visited was Riomaggiore. We only had 30 minutes at this one and it really wasn’t memorable. We made it back to Florence at around 7pm. For dinner, we stopped at Trattoria Za’Za’, which is near the leather markets. Y’all, Za’Za’ is another favorite of mine! It was so luxurious inside and the food – the food!! I got a simple carbonara pasta and it was heavenly; their rosé wasn’t bad either! 😏

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The next day, we got up early to wait in line for the Duomo. When we finally got inside though, I was incredibly underwhelmed, especially after seeing St. Peter’s Basilica back in Rome. Then we headed to the leather market and spent some time there. I wanted to buy a purse so badly, but it just felt so wrong, haggling and being a victim of sales. Plus, I was never 100% sure if the leather was real, since the prices were too good to be true. The vendors also just felt really sleazy, I couldn’t do it.

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For lunch, we made our way to Florence’s Eataly! As always, it was amazing. Then we stopped by the outdoor sculpture gallery, where we snapped some pictures, of course! We walked around the city some more after that, and stopped at Magnum Store. This is a delicious alternative if you want a break from gelato! It’s the only ice cream place I can think of that does a really great job with their branding – seductive and tantalizing. The concept was super cool itself: you pick three toppings (they’re unique too, like crushed rose petals, hazelnut chunks, etc.) and then they drip the chocolate onto the vanilla ice cream bar. It was so delicious.

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Then we waited in line for 30 minutes for the Galleria dell’ Accademia di Firenze, where we saw the famous David!!

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For dinner, we went back to Za’Za’ since we loved it so much the night before! This time though, we were seated in a different part of the restaurant and we got really different vibes. The food was still delicious, but the environment definitely mattered because the first night was more memorable.

We hiked to the top of a lookout for sunset and it was so stunning! We saw a few of our peers also at the lookout.

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The next day, we stopped at Gilli, the most beautifully decorated dessert shop I have ever seen. I didn’t buy anything, but I was so tempted to! We grabbed sandwiches at All’antico Vinaio, which were only 5 euros and humongous. I’ve also never waited in line for such a long time for a sandwich. This place was poppin’, and I can see why! It was a damn good sandwich.

We ended Florence on a good note, but overall, Florence wasn’t my favorite. So many people I know raved about it and had the most amazing time, but I just didn’t vibe with the city. Plus, the entire city just reeks, like, all the time. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Florence in my lifetime but I’m certainly glad I visited.

Xx,

Jen

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