As I mentioned in my post about Venice, my last trip to Florence was kind of split—I spent one evening there before going to Venice, and then returned before embarking on the rest of the trip.
That first night, Saturday May 4, I got to Florence after a 12-hour trip from Metz, and had a relaxing evening with Katie and her friends. We went back to the Osteria Santo Spirito (as good as the first time) with Katie’s classmates Jamie and Melissa, and then went to bed.
After my trip to Venice and Bologna, Katie had her last two exams on Wednesday. I slept in a little bit and then went for a walk through Florence. I walked across the river and up a hill next to a really old wall, trying to find an entrance to what looked like a garden of some sort with a great view of the city. Alas, I couldn’t find the entrance to what turned out to be Bardini Garden before it was time to meet Katie. I went with Katie (giddy with excitement at finishing her exams) and a few others back to Gusta Pizza, the best pizza in the city. Katie then spent the afternoon packing and getting everything together that she had to ship home before our trip.
Dinner on Wednesday night was possibly the best pasta I had throughout Italy (I’m sure I’ll say that about several other places we went, though). We went with six or seven of Katie’s best friends from the semester to 13 Gobbi, famous for its rigatoni. All of the pasta at the restaurant is made fresh each day, and the rigatoni is so famous because instead of being cooked in boiling water like most pasta, it is cooked directly in homemade marinara sauce. I think everyone but me ordered that, while I ordered a different pasta with shrimp and garlic and bacon, and shared with Katie. Both dishes were just shockingly good. After dinner we met a few more classmates at the fancy Art Bar for some drinks before bedtime.
Thursday May 9 marked our last day in Florence. In the morning, we went to the market because Katie wanted to buy a few last-minute gifts for people back home. Then we met Melissa and Jamie for lunch at All’antico Vinaio (the #1 restaurant in Florence according to TripAdvisor!), which was where I got artichoke spread on my panini at the recommendation of our server and loved it. We ate our paninis on the Piazza della Signoria under the warm sun. After lunch Katie and I went off to see the Boboli Gardens, a popular attraction in Florence that Katie hadn’t been to yet. The gardens were lovely, although frankly I didn’t think they were worth the entrance fee. Perhaps the gardens are more grown-in later in the summer.
That evening, Katie’s school had a farewell dinner, and luckily I got to tag along. It was on the roof of a hotel in downtown Florence, which made for an awesome view of the city from within the city. I met a couple of Katie’s professors and the rest of her classmates, had great food and wine on the school, and was put in charge of taking the girls’ final group photo of the semester.
After dinner we had some big plans for the last night in Florence. First we got a few bottles of wine to share on the Ponte Vecchio while watching some musicians play for the pedestrians, then we went to the Lion’s Fountain. The Lion’s Fountain’s ceiling is covered in t-shirts from every American college that has had a student study in Florence, and the students sign the t-shirt of their college—so we went there to sign the Vanderbilt shirt, of course! It was also karaoke night, so we did some karaoke too, although I can’t say I sang any solos. We had a blast there; I met some military guy who insisted I wasn’t really ready to rage until I had punched through a car window. I couldn’t find any cars to punch, but we made the most of the night anyway. We shied away from going to bed as long as we could, but we had to be ready for Rome the next day. The final journey was about to begin!