Florence Dumo

Conde Nast’s readers recently named Florence as the top city in the world. Of the top 25 cities on the list, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit 10 of them, including Florence. If you count my attempts at visiting the city.

The first attempt was actually somewhat successful. A friend from the same study abroad program and I bought express tickets from Rome (where we were spending the long weekend) to Florence. If all went to plan, we would get there mid morning and leave in time for dinner back in Rome. Like any college student, we were running just a few minutes late so we hastily purchased our tickets and made our way to the train platform.

See the problem with running late in a country where the signs are predominately in a language you don’t understand is the potential for getting on the wrong train, with no time to correct that mistake. Which is exactly what we did. Instead of getting on the express train, we got on the local train, after running for it because the doors were closing. When the conductor looked at our ticket he told us ‘You are on the wrong train and sorry, but we are pulling out of the station so you will just have to try and find an open seat’. 4 hours later we were in the beautiful city of Florence with about 2 or 3 hours to spare before our train back to Rome departed. Rather than leisurely strolling the picturesque streets, eating gelato, buying unique trinkets and laughing to our heart’s content, we were power-walking frantically through the city. We did manage to stop at a market and bought some Christmas gifts.

I was determined to make it back there. I had heard so many good things about the city and wanted to spend my day there meandering the streets and crossing the bridges. So when two of my friends came to travel with me after the Fall semester was over, we made another attempt at visiting the city. This time we were traveling from Milan. This time we got on the right train (success!). We were one our way and I was so excited. When we pulled into the Florence train station, I was confused. It looked nothing like the other train station I had pulled into previously. So I confidentially said, no the next station will be the right one. Wrong. As we pulled out of the train station, the train turned from an express to a local train making many stops to Rome. Yes, Rome. That quarter in Trevi Fountain worked a little too soon. After exhausting all my apologies to my friends, we made the best of our no seat situation and somehow passed the time while sitting on the floor of the hallway. In Rome, we scooped tickets back to Milan. Fortunately, we had an entire train car to ourselves and were able to convert the seats into a bed so the 5 and half train ride back wasn’t too bad.

Next time I make may way to Florence I’ll be much better prepared and I’ll take more than 3 photos. Oh ya, and now that Google maps is a thing I’m sure that it’ll be even harder for me to fuck the attempt up.

Captain Obvious lessons to take from this:

  • Don’t be late
  • Know where you are going or ask for help if you don’t
  • Make the best of any situation

Have you been on a trip when things haven’t gone as planned? How’d it end up? Let us know in the comments!

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