“This is NOT real life.”

This weekend…oh my goodness. Between the food, the company, the amazing city, and the shenanigans, I hardly know where to start! Though I suppose the beginning is as good a place as any…

This trip to Florence, Italy, was the first plane ticket I bought that included a layover (well, two). On the way into Florence I stopped at the Paris, Charles de Gaul airport.

It’s very large.

It’s also…very large. The couple sitting next to me on the plane in where actually American medical students studying in London for a bit, heading to Florence for the weekend. We started chatting because, after the plane landed, it took absolutely ages to get moving. We were all antsy, and essentially sprinted through Charles de Gaul because, when we did make it off the plane, I and my new friends suddenly had half and hour to get to a different terminal.

And through security. And on a shuttle. And board the plane.

Running through an airport can officially be scratched off the bucket list.

Anyway, after a harrowing several minutes we did make it on the plane, which took off and landed safely – obviously – in Florence. One of my best friends from Elon, Sam, met me at the airport and took me into the city, where I stayed with him, our friend Kyle, and their awesome apartment-mate.

We started off the night right with bread, cheese, and Chianti (this would be a theme of my weekend, as it turns out), followed by dinner out with a group of the Elon students studying in Florence. Followed by fun Italian beverages (on the house…I LOVE Italians), gelato, and an Irish pub. I know, I know, it’s sort of weird I went to an Irish pub in Italy but it was one of Sam’s favorite places. The other girls turned in, so I ended up at Friends with the five guys on the trip and we had such a good time!

Friday morning we were up bright and early for horseback riding through the countryside, a tour of a medieval city whose name started with M—, and a wine tasting. All of which were positively fantastic! The stables we went to actually had half a dozen beautiful dogs we all petted to our heart’s content before being split into two groups for the ride.

This is Contessa...isn't she pretty?

This is Contessa…isn’t she pretty?

My group headed into the medieval city first and, with the sun warming up, we wandered around for a bit and found some low walls and grass, which we promptly spread out on. I’m a ghost, I still have no color at all, but it was so nice to be outside and feel warm!

Horseback riding was wonderful, if a little adventuresome. I was one of the few people who had significant riding experience (and mine isn’t all that much, mind you), so they put me on a lovely horse named Ida (EE-da) who had quite a personality. By the end we got along well enough; the girl in front of me was given quite a slow little old man of a horse and Ida was NOT having it. And I was NOT having another galloping adventure like the last time I rode. I was a little worried about how I handled it – I’ve never fought with a horse that much to get him/her to listen – but one of the men leading the trail ride said that I was a good rider. Yay! Small victories.

Unfortunately, as it had been so long since I rode, my bum was positively sore by the time we were through! I let Ida munch on some grass before we left (she’d been trying to get in the trees while we walked along and I may have bribed her to behave) and headed to the winery!

The small barrels are very, very nice Chianti.

The small barrels are very, very nice Chianti.

The owner, who gave us the tour, was apologetic about his English, which all of us thought was really quite good. He explained how they choose which wine goes in the big barrels versus the little ones and, after poking around in the cellar, we headed upstairs for a tasting.

NOMS and wine.

NOMS and wine.

We went back in the city for a small dinner of apertifs (basically h’ors douevres and drinks), great discussions, music, and drinks at a small bar called the Lion’s Fountain. At the wine tasting we’d agreed to be in a group making reservations at a club called Space for the following night and, being practical, mature individuals, decided to save our energy for the next day.

Florence is…beautiful. And Tuscany is so very different from Campania, the Southern area of Italy I spent most of spring break in. Both places are absolutely lovely, and Florence is peaceful in a way I haven’t felt in a city like that before.

The recounting of this weekend’s adventures will continue tomorrow!

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