I know what you’re thinking; those LMP girls must REALLY love Italy. I know Abby just took a trip to Italy this spring and you’ve already heard all about it, but I promise I have a unique experience to share too!
When my friend Colleen said she was thinking about going to Florence in June, I knew I had to nudge my way onto her trip. Colleen and I studied abroad in Florence 5 years ago, so although it’s a city I know well from living there for 4 months, I couldn’t help but think “this trip is exactly what I need right now.” No exhausting lines with other tourists. No pressure to see the sights. All I had to do was focus on eating, drinking, and getting inspired.
If you haven’t heard yet, I’ve recently been hired full time (yay!) with Little Miss Party. For the past 2.5 years I’ve worked remotely with the team from Boston, where I’ve lived for 7 years. I traveled intermittently to NYC, which is when you may have seen me on Seri’s Snapchat or Instagram. We were finally ready to make a big transition, so I will officially be moving to NYC on July 1st! It’s been quite the journey for me over this past year, but I knew in my heart that working with LMP was my dream come true. You can learn more about my journey and all the reasons I was ready to leave Boston on my personal blog.
Needless to say, it’s been a crazy couple months for me, and knowing I would soon be VERY busy with the move to NYC, I knew that I had to take the opportunity to travel now before life gets in the way. Because so much of my life revolves around creativity, I planned this trip knowing my main focus was to take in the beauty, photograph my experiences and EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT.
Let’s start with sights:
The Darling details of Italy
Gorgeous cars, posed perfectly against the traditional architecture of Florence.
Every building has rooftop & porch gardens. It brings beautiful new life to this old city.
Bicycles EVERYWHERE! And more plants!
Archways over narrow streets, casting the most beautiful light. Your eyes will never be disappointed on a casual walk through this city.
Sights for Sore Eyes
The Duomo is easily the most famous building in all of Florence. This feat of architectural beauty creates a “wow” factor for any passerby. Although I recommend seeing the views of Florence from the top of the Duomo Bell tower, the lines during tourist season are INSANE and walking around the outside of this building is impressive in itself.
The Arno is the river that divides Florence, and while in town, walking across its many bridges is necessary. Lined with many restaurants and hotels, this river is a beautiful sight, especially at sunset. Be sure to walk across the Ponte Vecchio but the better views are from the bridges surrounding it.
For the best views of Florence AND the surrounding Tuscan countryside, I would suggest walking up to Forte di Belvedere. All the tourists go to Piazzale Michaelangelo, and although it’s beautiful up there, it’s always packed. This location is much quieter and offers a grander view of the area. We only knew about this spot because we spent the whole week with our wonderful local friend who shared the secret with us!
Next, let’s discuss food and drinks:
One of our favorite pasta stops was Trattoria Sant’Agostino which of course, we stumbled upon after a couple hours of walking and feeling famished. We purposely sought out locations off the beaten path, in small alleyways where we could tell everyone inside was speaking Italian. We wanted the authentic experience, and this place did not disappoint.
If you’re looking for a freshly made pizza, Gusta Pizza is a must-go. Although a tourist attraction and always busy, this spot makes your pizza to order in their own brick oven so it comes out piping hot and delicious.
Truffle is in season in Italy, and you see it very frequently at the local restaurants. One night in search of a late dinner, we found Trattoria Napaleone which had a menu with a section of pasta that included truffle in every dish. So, we ordered truffle carbonara, truffle ravioli, and truffle gnocchi. No regrets. this place was beyond amazing with a true Florentine atmosphere.
Coccoli, prosciutto and stracchino
This is a famous appetizer in Florence, which is essentially fried bread, soft cheese, and prosciutto. It was simply delicious everywhere we tried it.
We cannot forget one of the most important parts of going to Italy. THE WINE. It flows like water, and boy, did we drink it like it was.
We were lucky enough to go with our local friend, Angelica, outside of Florence about 45 minutes via public bus to Marchesi Antinori, a famous winery of Tuscany. The region is famous for Chianti Classico, an esteemed red wine that has been made there for hundreds of years.
Although we all tasted the Chianti Classico with lunch it was a HOT day. After learning about the winery and walking the grounds, we cooled off with their equally delicious rosé.
Finally, let’s focus on the things that made this trip inspiring:
The entire time we were there, Colleen and I had our cameras out and ready to capture the things that caught our eyes. Colleen is an amazing artist, designer, and photographer and I am so lucky to call her my friend. We fueled each other during our week back in Florence to capture the beautiful moments.
Colleen and I planned this trip so we could work on one of her (many) amazing side projects, Wanderwise. She is hoping to bring change the tourist industry of Florence with these creative workshops, and I’m so lucky I was there to help her brainstorm.
This trip was very nostalgic for us. This is us in front of the apartment we lived in 5 years ago. It was this place that developed our friendship and made us into the artists we are today.
Florence is a city filled with tradition. We were there during one of the famous city-wide rugby matches and were able to watch a parade to celebrate the big game. This procession lasted about 45 minutes with hundreds of men in traditional, colorful, and heavy garb.
Our wonderful Italian friend, Angelica is the daughter of one of our professors from studying in Florence. She was kind enough to show us around her city, help us order the best food, and provide a warm welcome for our entire stay.
The beautiful, old architecture of Italy is always so entwined with nature. I was so happy to walk around and see greenery and flowers every way I turned.
I came home from this trip feeling full, happy, and READY to move! I hope you enjoyed seeing pieces of my trip. Feel free to follow me on Instagram (@maggieantalek) to see my future travels, daily BTS at Little Miss Party, and my new adventures in NYC. Watch out New York, I’m coming for you next!