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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Seeing the Importance of Florence – ON TOUR Backpack France, Switzerland & Italy

We arrived in Firenze! Our first excursion was to the exciting Leather Markets. Almost everyone got to practice their haggling skills (with a little help from our Italian-speaking trip leader, Christine) to gather their wares (a pelle and an Italian custom cut belt among other things). We visited Plaza Republica for dinner, being serenaded by a local musician.  The trip members partook in a photo scavenger hunt.  Wandering around the square, they met the challenge of convincing locals to take various pictures from a list.

The next day, we wished Cami a happy birthday! The day was celebrated with banners, streamers, and gifts.  Our day took us to the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens.  Trip members went in groups around the garden, trying to find all of the landmarks. We then made our way to the Duomo and climbed up 483 steps to the top point of the cathedral. The lookout over the city was breathtaking: a 360-degree view of Florence. The air and the stairs made the Duomo climb eerily similar to a haunted house tour-roller coaster combination.

OT BP France, Switz & Italy in Florence

At night, we worked together at a local cooking school and each helped to create our six course Italian meal.  Some meal highlights: Niko’s spinach crepe and Christine’s panna cotta. Our funny chefs kept us on our toes – “too much salt! I don’t have to eat this, YOU do!”— overall the meal was fantastic. Jenny thought the cooking school was great because she was rewarded for all of her work in the kitchen. After dinner, we escorted our new chefs over to the Duomo for a quick challenge: wheelbarrow races in front of a very interested and entertained crowd of tourists. Johnny’s team wheeled themselves the fastest to win the competition. Finally, we relaxed in the evening on the rooftop solarium of our hotel while playing fun group games (mafia – Julia’s favorite) and enjoying the beautiful nightscape.

Our last big day in Florence was filled with art in culture. To start, we toured the Academia, led by Firenzie-native Marcello (“not marshmallow!”). Michelangelos’s David left us awestruck. Dan said “I have heard about him and read about him but when I saw him in person, up close, I was mesmerized seeing such an important piece of history.”  Marcello also brought us to the Ponte Vecchio. In addition, at the Uffizi gallery we were lucky to have Danielle, resident Art History buff, who just finished studying Italian masters. After dinner, we experienced Perche No’s world famous gelato.

The Westcoast Blogger

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