Ten years from now, when I reminisce on my time spent in Florence, Italy, I think I’ll remember it as the most romantic day of my life. A million more romantic occurrences could happen between now and then, but there’s something about Florence – the unwavering beauty of the city – that romanticizes the memory with heavier emphasis. Granted the time I spent in Florence truly was romantic; I was there celebrating my boyfriend, Timo’s, thirtieth birthday. Even being a month removed from it, every time I think back or see a picture I’m overwhelmed by the magical feeling that can only be described as romance, my Italian Romance.
We didn’t arrive in Florence until nearly 11 PM on June 29th. Once the clock struck midnight, it was Timo’s birthday, which was the purpose of our entire European adventure. We’d just come from Amsterdam, where we spent the first leg of our vacation.While in Amsterdam, we elected to stay in a hostel. Hostel life felt like part of the Amsterdam experience. It was great! However, by the time we got to Florence I’d never been more thankful that we’d rented an Airbnb for this portion of the trip. Our time in Italy was going to be quick. Any time that wasn’t spent exploring I’d prefer to be alone with Timo, playing house in our gorgeous Italian apartment.
Once we checked into our Airbnb, we ventured out in search of food. We had no desire to go out “out” in Italy. Our only desire was to find a pizzeria, get a couple pies to-go and then go back to our apartment and lounge on the couch and rest up for the next day’s adventures. We found a lovely local joint, Pizzeria La Luna just a few blocks from our apartment. As our pies were being prepared we sat outside and enjoyed a Peroni and chatted with the owners about our visit. I was so excited to hear that their pizzeria wasn’t one frequently visited by tourists; it was more for the locals, which is exactly the kind of pizza I wanted.
A Day of Exploration
The next day we slept in. Part of me wanted to wake at the crack of dawn and not waste a second of exploration time. But it was Timo’s birthday and he said, “No alarms.” So we stayed cuddled in our large Italian bed until 11:30 AM. We awoke refreshed and felt no panic from sleeping in. Instead, I made coffee while Timo mapped out the day’s adventures.
One of my favorite Timo qualities is that he takes me on List Dates. He’s been doing this since our earliest of dates. For List Date’s he picks out 5-10 places – bars, restaurants, etc. that he thinks I would enjoy and then we venture through the city crossing off the list. That morning, he sat at the kitchen table in our Italian apartment and as he sipped his coffee he created us a List Date for Florence!
After the day was planned, we left the apartment and began our tour of Florence. The first place we visited was the Santa Croce. A Church that houses the tombs of Florence’s most famous sons: Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Dante.
The fact that I’ve spent the better-half of my adult life studying the work of Dante made this moment incredibly special. We stood there in awe and admiration at the fact that four of the world’s greatest talents were memorialized in one place. I felt a warm tear trickle down my cheek as I stood before the tomb of the man whose work has inspired so much of my own.
After Santa Croce, we toured the rest of this breathtaking city. The most amazing thing about Florence is everywhere you look is picturesque, from the remarkable architecture to the rolling hills decorating the background, to the statues scattered throughout the city and filling the multiple museums. We visited the Uffizi Gallery and took in Florence’s glorious history and culture. Once we finished taking in the incredible art housed in Florence we ate lasagna at a little café beside the famous Dome.
By late afternoon we headed for the famous Piazzale Michelangelo. This offers the best view of the Florence skyline; however, in order to get the best view, you must climb the biggest hill and the hundreds of steps that go along with reaching it.
After the first 30 steps, my heart began to race and sweat beads exposed themselves on my forehead. Timo, who was a few steps ahead of me, turned back and smiled. That was encouragement enough to keep climbing. Naturally, when we reached the top, every step had been well worth it. The views were literally breathtaking.
Watching the sun shining down on my lover on his thirtieth birthday as we stood above Florence was possibly my favorite moment in Europe. We held hands and kissed among all the glory.
A Romantic Dinner
We decided to take a rest before we went out for Timo’s birthday dinner, so we stopped and bought a bottle of Tuscan Chianti and took it back to our apartment. We laid on the couch, drank our wine, and watched Italian music videos.
For dinner, we ventured over to an area where locals go to eat, avoiding the tourist hotspots. We found a restaurant with an outdoor patio overlooking the river called Easy Living. The entire menu was in Italian. We tried our best to understand what we were eating, but some of it was blind picking. Between the two of us, we had a pizza, two entrees apiece, and a bottle of wine. It was perfect.
We sat there talking and laughing about everything and nothing. After dinner, we held hands and walked back to our Italian apartment. As we slept, we held each other like letting go wasn’t an option.
Everything about the day was perfect. I couldn’t imagine a better way to ring in Timo’s birthday. We didn’t spend the day rushing, trying to fit everything in. Instead, we slept in and moved at our own pace. We indulged in great art and equally great food and wine. We spent the day like we were real Italians.
When I think back on our time in Florence, it’s like falling in love all over again. No matter who you are or how you’re traveling, it’s impossible not feel the romance of Italy.