I finally made it to Florence, Italy!
Before I got there though, I went on a mini adventure to Milan where I got to see world famous landmarks such as the Milan Cathedral and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. I think my attempt to take countless selfies automatically labeled “tourist” on my forehead because vendors approached me like I was a celebrity. At one point, one local attached a bracelet on my hand and asked for donations. Another took my hand and put bird food on it. I kept telling him “No… no, thank you” but he insisted. I was actually a bit scared at first, but as the pigeons started coming my way, I realized what he was doing. He was a photographer! He took several photos of me using my phone and asked for a “donation”. Here are some of the pictures he took.
I have to admit, the experience was kind of scary and felt weird, but it’s definitely memorable. I guess it’s something locals do to earn a living. At least that’s what my photographer said. My suggestion is to just be mindful of your surroundings and use your best judgement in cases like this.
Moving forward, traveling from Milan to Florence was quite a challenge with a big luggage on hand. Doing it alone for the first time made it even harder. I had to take several modes of public transportation to reach my final destination. From the city center, I rode the metro to the bus station in Milan Lampugnano. From there, I rode the bus to Florence Villa Constanza Station where I took the tram going to a station near the bus stop bound for my final destination. Since it was a holiday, the bus only ran every top of the hour. After waiting for 30 minutes, the bus finally came around, and I was able to take it all the way to Benci. The final stretch was a two-minute walk from Benci bus stop to the Florence University of the Arts in Corso Tintori. I am proud to say I arrived safely and was able to register on time.
After checking-in to my apartment, I decided to walk around and explore the city with my roommate given that it was still early. Since the city was packed with tourists from all over the globe, it was hard to navigate around and get decent pictures. Nonetheless, the sight of Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio and the Florence Cathedral left me mesmerized. Florence is nothing like Tampa! From the architecture of famous landmarks to that of the houses, everything seemed different. I plan to explore the city in-depth and during hours when tourist numbers are low. Tune in for my next posts, but for now, I’ll end the story of my first few days in Italy here.