After only a 40 minute train ride we were here. Our third city to explore!
We met our Airbnb host, Stefano, at the train station. He was incredibly friendly and offered to help us with our baggage. We began to exchange pleasantries and when we told him we were from California, Orange County in particular, he tipped his head back and smiled, " ohh, I'm sooo jealous of you. I love California. Hollywood. The Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's so cool." In the following breath he began singing the Eagles, 'Hotel California' while steering us through the cobblestone streets of Florence, our new home for the next 4 days. Allen and I smiled, looked at each other and chuckled back at him, "You're jealous? You're the one that lives in Tuscany!"
Stefano was amazing. He walked us from the train station to our apartment all while giving us a small scenic tour along the way. He explained that he and his brother have purchased property all over Florence and have refurbished them as vacation rentals. They had given great thought to the design and comfort of their flats and it showed.
Our apartment , as it turns out, is on the second story across from a restaurant, pizzeria, pub and cafe. We are also near the river, 2 minutes walk from the train station and a 10 minute walk from the city center. This city at first glance kind of feels a bit chaotic and larger than what we have seen so far. I also think we're a little apprehensive because we haven't gotten our bearings yet but that will come in a day or so...
The Boboli Gardens were no joke! 111 acres of hilltop gardens and manicured lawns. Of course Allen and I were so excited to get in that we didn't bother grabbing a map so up and down, weaving in and out of bush mazes we went. It looked liked the final scene of The Shining at one point except we weren't going to freeze in snow, we were going to collapse into a pool of sweat and tears trying to find the exit.
But let's back up a bit... Up and down and around we walked up to the highest point in the garden which overlooked all of Florence on one side. On the other, a peony flower garden with a fountain in the middle, climbing rose bushes against two of the main walls and then just the openness of the Florentine hillside. It was breathtaking. With such a vast space of land to see, the crowds were never much of an issue and we were able to take quite a few photographs of the gardens, ponds and artwork without anyone around.
It is a beautiful city. One that I hope to one day on a return trip go back to. I dream of that Lavanda (Lavender) and Fior di Panna gelato at the end of the Treviso Bridge and think fondly back to the small alleyways, shops and sitting nearby with a glass of wine observing the everyday activity of such a infamous little Italian town.