During Briana’s trip to Finland, my nephew Justin came to visit me in Florence. It timing worked out kind of funny. Briana’s trip had been planned months prior and Justin purchased his tickets about 3 weeks before visiting. I had given him a broad window in which he could visit but he unknowingly purchased his ticket’s arrival for the same day she departed. Unfortunately, they would not see each other this trip.
Flights into Pisa are typically much cheaper than flying straight into Florence and Pisa is only a short drive or an even shorted train ride away. For this reason, Justin arrived to Pisa late in the evening and stayed the night. The next morning, I drove out to meet him and explore Pisa. If you’ve ever been to Pisa, you know there isn’t much to explore making it perfect for a day trip, or even a half day trip. We did the obligatory leaning tower pictures and then had a wonderful lunch at a little spot named “Il Peperoncino”, if in the area I recommend it.
After stuffing our faces I suggested we make our way to Lucca since it was only midday. Lucca is very close to Pisa and having been there recently with Briana, I wanted to show him around. We spent the next 3 hours walking every narrow street, admiring the numerous decadent churches and exploring within and admiring the well preserved famous city walls. In the late afternoon we decided to head back to Florence so he could get settled and could hash out a game plan for the rest of the week.
We started the next morning off at Piazzale Michelangelo to take in the full view of the city. Justin had recently become very interested in photography, because of his businesses, and took some amazing photos from our vantage point. He cleverly pointed out that when he wants pictures taken of himself, he asks someone who has equipment of the same caliber as his. He feels that they are more likely to know how to capture a good image on his camera. It was great advice and also ironic because the entirety of his trip proceeded with tourist asking him to take photos of them on their cameras.
We spent the rest of that day and the next exploring Museums, my favorite eateries, the beautiful architecture and all the delicious gelato Florence has to offer. I’m so in love with this city and was grateful to share it with my nephew. He was impressed with the sights and the food. I was impressed that someone as thin as him can eat so much gelato.
Halfway into his visit I drove us out to La Rossa, La Grassa, La Dotta… Bologna. Bologna will always hold a special place in my heart, it was after all where we originally intended to live. Briana and I spent so much time researching about Bologna and loved our time spent there. Which city has the better food, Bologna or Firenze? This is a hotly debated subject as both cities are very proud of their history. Whatever you believe It can not be denied that Bologna has some delicious indulgent cuisine so it was a must visit location with Justin, who is a food enthusiast.
I took him to a favorite restaurant of mine “Trattoria Soverni”, and he was amazed. Every visit to this restaurant I always order the same meal, Cotoletta alla Bolgnese. It is Milanese (cutlet pounded thin, breaded and fried) wrapped in prosciutto, smothered in mornay sauce (béchamel with cheese) served on a bed of Arugula. The bitterness of the greens cuts through the richness of the dish exquisitely. After describing this dish to Justin, he ordered one and said at the close of his trip that it was the best meal he had in Italy. We saw the other sights such as Piazza Maggiore, the two towers and many more before heading home.
The following day we took the train to Rome. I often hear people speak of the best times to visit Rome in order to escape the heat and tourists, but I don’t think there’s ever a bad time. I mention this in part because it was hot as hell and there was a ridiculous amount of people. We covered a lot of ground in the scorching heat and stayed motivated and in awe of everything surrounding us. The Pantheon, Coliseum, Palatine hill and Forum were just a few of the places we saw that day. We ended our day on the Spanish steps, people watching and refilling our bottles with ice cold water from the Fontana della Barcaccia.
The last days of Justin’s trip, we took it easy. We spent more time exploring Firenze and Justin climbed the steps to the Duomo. We ate our weight in gelato and other Florentine delicacies. The trip was a blast and having my nephew here meant a lot to me. Although Briana and he did not see each other on this trip, we will soon be visiting him in Budapest. It will be my first time exploring Hungry and I’m glad to have Justin as a guide.
Life continues to bless Briana and I, it’s sometimes hard to believe how incredibly fortunate we are. We have plenty of upcoming plans and this is a very exciting time for us.