Once upon a time I blew through the remainder of my student loans to take a quick trip around Europe after I completed my Master’s back in 2013 #NoRegrets. I started out in Paris, flew to Verona, then took a train to Florence, and finally Rome. The highlights of said trip were definitely an open air opera in Verona, a restaurant in Florence, and a wine tour in the breathtaking surroundings of Tuscany.
By some miracle, I looked at events in Verona prior to flying over and saw that the Arena di Verona was performing Romeo and Juliet. Can you say fate? I quickly purchased a ticket and it became my only planned activity, as I don’t always like to plan everything in advance. It was amazing! While Romeo and Juliet is no longer playing, I definitely recommend booking a ticket to see one of the Arena’s open air operas. And what do you know, they have a festival in the summer of 2017. Did I mention this Arena was built in the first century? Bring comfortable cushions to sit on!
After Verona, I took a train to Florence. Once I dropped off my things at the hostel (Ostello Santa Monaca), I quickly headed out to hunt for some food. I was walking in the rain so I stopped at the first restaurant I saw which happened to be Osteria Santo Spirito. I took a seat outside in their sheltered patio and began salivating as I saw and smelled all the dishes pass me by. This was, hands down, the best place I ate in all of Italy and all I had was a simple pasta pomodoro. I actually didn’t take photos of my food because I was too busy getting my culinary world rocked. But please, if you find yourself in Florence, eat at this restaurant!!!! (Multiple exclamation marks for emphasis)
When I returned to my hostel I looked at their tourist brochures (as one does), and saw they worked with a local travel company that organised day trips to Tuscany. Um yes please, sign me up! The hostel staff assisted with booking for the next day but feel free to do so on your own here. I opted for the San Gimignano, Siena, and Chianti tour. The tour included pick up and drop off at the main train station in Florence, a visit to medieval towns and monasteries, and of course wine tours, complete with grappa (the Italian tequila).