This weekend I decided to stay in Florence. I was excited because my two sisters where coming to visit me for my birthday along with two friends, one from the U.S. and one from Greece. I was really excited to see my sisters, but also, I hadn’t seen my friend from Greece since the summer so I couldn’t wait for her to come. They spent two days in Rome doing some of the sightseeing I recommended which they really enjoyed before heading to Florence to come and see me.
My friends and sisters stayed in an Airbnb a street over from where I live and would be spending six days in Florence, which was awesome. I had planned out our days full of activities in order to give them the best possible experience. The first day they got here they got settled in and we got sandwiches from the famous sandwich shop in Florence called All’ Antico Vinaio. We ate them by the Arno river and they loved them. Later in the day, we went to Piazzale Michelangelo for the sunset which absolutely blew them away and made them fall in love with Florence. This was followed by dinner at one of my favorite restaurants.
Their second day here they were really exhausted and didn’t want to do much. This would have been fine if I hadn’t planned a whole day of things to do considering it was one of the few days I had completely off from school. It was also equally frustrating when they gave me a list of things, they wanted to do but hadn’t looked into any of it or planned anything. So, after losing a whole day of sightseeing at least we had dinner at another of my favorite restaurants.
After dinner we tried to plan our remaining days which proved to be a challenge. Overall, they wanted to make sure they would be able to do everything they had on their wish list. This included a wine tour in Tuscany, a visit to the Uffizi, getting gifts at the leather market and finally, going to Cinque Terre. We spent a few hours trying to book things and look at how to get to and from Cinque Terre all of which was a lot of information to sort through and find. This was very overwhelming to everyone so we decided to part ways for the night
The girls ended up waking up late again on Sunday and by the time I went over to try and plan our day I only had an hour and a half before I had to leave and go to the Florence vs Bologna soccer game with my program. Since it was raining, I planned for them to visit the Uffizi which was indoors and on their list of things to do. I would have loved to have done it with them, but our plans had been so rushed that we didn’t have much of a choice (hence why I had been wanting to plan everything). We tried again later in the day to book the rest of our activities but with five people come five different opinions which makes it difficult to accommodate the plans to everyone’s wants. We originally had wanted to do Cinque Terre on Monday because it was the warmest day and Cinque Terre is a weather dependent place since you visit to enjoy the scenery. The leather market was always available and accessible which was good, but the wine tasting in Tuscany proved to be the hardest thing to plan.
The thing about the wine tours is that most of them require transportation by either car, bus, or train in order to get there since they are outside of Florence and around Tuscany. Then, on top of that, they have set hours and limited availability when booking a tour the week of. Also, since the weekend was over I had to take into consideration that I had to attend my classes which made it difficult to get to a wine tour and back before or after one of my classes. After hours of researching options and messaging people, we decided to switch our plans around and go midday on Monday which was also my birthday. From there we tentatively made some plans for the rest of the days leaving Cinque Terre for Wednesday.
The wine tasting place was an hour away by train near Lucca and thankfully we were blessed with some warm and sunny weather. The vineyard was absolutely beautiful and the tasting lasted three hours which included 5 wines paired with appetizers, lunch and dessert, all of which exceeded my expectations. We had a wonderful time there and I was happy to spend my birthday with some good friends and family indulging in amazing foods and wines.
After Tuscany, we spent the rest of the week trying to squeeze in all the activities we wanted to do together in between my classes and free time. I was planning on joining them on their trip to Cinque Terre since I had not missed any of my classes and was allowed to miss three in every class, but I realized I had an important assignment in class on Wednesday that I couldn’t miss so I was unable to go with them there. I was sad because I was really looking forward to that and I know that if we had planned it better and earlier we could have found a way to do it.
Despite all the mishaps and planning, in the end I was extremely grateful to get to see my sisters and friends. It meant a lot to me that I was able to share my experience here in Florence with them. Although the trip might of been rocky at times, I learned that although planning things is a good idea and strategy you don’t have to follow it completely. Sometimes, it pays to be flexible and adaptable to plans. I am also working towards not going back and thinking, oh I should of have done this or that because it already happened and you can’t go back in time. So, during their time here I was able to work on that goal and become better at letting go, moving on, and not dwelling on a situation. Mostly, I learned that their time here was their own experience and they can choose to do whatever they want with it. This is also something I have learned from traveling with my roommates and friends here and I think it is a valuable lesson to take back home with me. For five girls, with five different opinions and desires, I would say the week was wildly successful.