It wasn’t until the string quartet

Firenze Sunset Overlooking Florence

July 9

Florence is a beautiful city, just look up some pictures. It wasn’t singing to me though. I really had trouble connecting with it. Massive queues, with a plethora of ways to pay to skip lines, it felt like a racket. If I’d been here on a week’s holiday while earning a salary I would have no doubt paid the bribes.

The day was also scorching, there was no getting away from it. Not even in the nicest of cafes. It began to feel like we paid for a train ticket to go sit in a cafe away from Bologna, a rather nice place to be even when hot. Exhibited by this wonderful dinner and music in the streets from the night before:

Bologna Street Dinner

Walking around Florence in this particular heat also seemed to produce waves of sewage smells spewing out from the grates on the streets.

These wonderful smells, the Death Valley heat, and the number of Americans walking around like they own the place and complaining of brain freezes really put me off. Maybe I was just being hangry.

We stopped for paninis and hiked up to a sunset viewing area. It was beautiful.

Firenze Sunset with Bridges

Firenze Sunset Overlooking Florence

Firenze Sunset Crowds Gathered

Done, just beautiful. But Florence hadn’t redeemed itself. It wasn’t just hangriness, I was down on Florence.

Our train back to Bologna was at 22:30, so we started working our way back to the train station. On the way, we got a bottle of chilled Prosecco, hoping to cool our souls. We stopped and sat on the steps of Basilica di Santa Croce, and popped the bottle. Staring at the square before us, we were all happy to have come to Florence. But, I was the only first-timer, so I think my companions were being nice on my behalf.

Basilica di Santa Croce Prosecco
Basilica di Santa Croce

I explained my dismay, but had we not gone I would have felt like I missed out on a potentially important destination. There, glad we went.

Dusk was setting in, and a young man with a cello began to unpack and setup. Then a few more joined him with other instruments. When the string quartet began to play for all of us sitting on the steps, I felt like Florence had redeemed itself. I needed that peace, I needed to feel like there was character within the city. Heartbroken we had to leave after the first song, we tossed some Euros in the violin case and ran off.

They said thank you, in English. I wonder if it was some American students that just redeemed Florence for me.

Duomo Firenze

Duomo Firenze 2

Duomo Firenze Streets

Firenze Morning After

By Daniel Hatke

The author was born and raised in Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University he worked in the asset management industry in New York City. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship. Currently, he is fueling his curiosities through taking time off for extended travel and experiences in Europe and Asia, as chronicled here.