It was my final day in Tuscany and several hours before it was time to leave Italy. This was not nearly enough time to explore all that I wanted in this region, but I would sure try my best to fit in as much as I could!
My gallivanting on Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 had given me so many rich experiences, that I wanted to continue this way for just a while longer. Based on my flight time, I ended up having a little under 24 hours before I needed to be in Venice to catch my flight back to the States. So I figured I'd hit up a bit more of Florence before making a pit stop to the nearby city of Bologna.
Since my checkout time from my AirBnb was early in the morning, I was able to negotiate with my host to hold my bags for a few hours before I caught my train to Bologna.
First, I set out for the San Lorenzo market to get some great deals on leather goods that the city is very well known for. After dodging the rainfall that had arrived to the bustling city, I made my way to the market and immediately felt like I was in paradise.
After walking around to all of the booths to see my options, I found some gorgeous bags that I was able to negotiate down from $30 to $15. SCORE!
Once I was done with my shopping, I stopped by a nearby cafe for my daily espresso and pastry for breakfast. (SN: It's amazing how quickly I became accustomed to this daily ritual and still sometimes carry out now that I'm back home.) After grabbing a quick bite, I set out for the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge crossing the Arno River that has various shops built into it.
Walking a bit further down the river, I stumbled upon the Piazza della Signoria again, where I was able to observe more of the sculptures and art in the area.
My time in Florence had come to an end. After grabbing my bags from my AirBnb and heading back towards the train station in another struggle of dragging my luggage along the cobblestoned streets, I made it to my train platform to set out for Bologna.
Once I arrived in Bologna, I had about 8 hours to explore before it would be time to catch my train to Venice for my flight. Instead of dragging my bag around, I was able to conveniently drop off my luggage at a luggage storage area in the station for a small fee.
Once that was handled, I emerged from the station, anxious to not only take in all that Bologna had to offer, but also get some grub. It just so happened that this day, June 2nd, was Festa della Repubblica, a day that commemorates when the Italian people voted to switch their form of government from a monarchy to a republic. In addition to this day being celebrated with various parades throughout Italy, it also meant that many places of business were closed for the holiday. After walking to a few restaurants only to find their doors closed, I finally came upon a spot that was open to enjoy my final meal in Italy.
After eating, I ventured to the Towers of Bologna. Of these two towers, I learned that the Asinelli Tower is actually the tallest leaning tower in Italy. Who knew?!
If you've followed my posts from traveling around Italy, you'll know that I walked several hundred flights in the two weeks of my stay. I can say that these stairs were by far the scariest to climb, as we had to not only share the narrow stairs with people going up and down them, but also deal with actually feeling the lean of the tower. This was a sensation I didn't remember feeling as much when I climbed the Leaning Tower in Pisa. Once at the top, I was able to capture some jaw dropping shots of the city and Tuscan countryside.
The rest of my wandering consisted of visiting the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, and the various colorful areas of Bologna. The state of civil unrest in the city was the most eye opening for me. There was actually a protest that occurred while I was on campus that students were participating in. Witnessing this much culture and freedom of expression was, by far, one of the best surprises of my trip to Italy.
My time was up in Bologna, and with my head filled with so many images (and my camera with so much more), it was finally time for me to head to Venice to catch my flight back to America.
Despite my many moments of getting lost, struggling with language barriers, and dragging my 50 pound bag down many streets, I departed Italy with so much more to appreciate.
Venice showed me color and perspective.
Positano gave me luxury with lots of introspection.
Rome taught me history and appreciation for Italian culture.
Tuscany presented indulgence and adventure.
Traveling an entire country for the first time by myself brought me more life lessons that I can even count. I stepped further into my womanhood, into my entrepreneurship, and into my creativity.
While this is only the first of my many trips around this whole wide world, I appreciate having the chance to get to share these important moments with you.
So raise your glass (preferably a Chianti red) to new lessons and adventures to come!
Have you had the chance to explore the beautiful country of Italy yet? What were some of your favorite highlights? Share below!