After arriving in Florence Santa Maria Novella train station at 6am my first task was to find Plus Florence Hostel, the place I’d be staying for the next 3 nights. It was easy to find the hostel, a 10 minute walk away from the station using the Here Maps application on my Nokia phone with pre-loaded offline walking directions. Unfortunately when I arrived I was told that I can leave my luggage in the luggage store and only check in after 2:30pm. I asked the receptionist if I could go to the roof to get a view of sunrise and he said that would be fine.
I found a “squatter” on the roof in his sleeping bag when I got there.
I relaxed for about 45 minutes on the roof. The skies of Florence were overcast that morning so I couldn’t see the sunrise. There’s free WiFi available throughout the hostel so I looked up the main shopping areas within the city.
Around 8 am I started heading towards Piazza Republika. Most of the vendors were closed on this Sunday morning. I wondered if any would actually open…
Still, it was a nice site to see this Italian city slowly waking up, with some vendors starting to open up their stores around 9am.
Exhaustion was creeping in so I decided that I should get a full breakfast and a large cappuccino to try and counter it. I found a nice outdoor café and was their first customer for the day. I’m not used to being the early-bird first in line in the morning.
I checked out the river Arno.
I remember seeing the signpost to the statue of Michaelangelo but I can’t recall if I actually saw the statue. In hindsight I know that it’s something I definitely deserved a special visit but at the time I was quite ignorant on this marvel of art. I’m not really an arty person (on my first visit to the Louvre I didn’t think of seeing the Mona Lisa).
At 10am most of the stores opened (although stores like Zara remained closed all day). I checked out the prices but they were quite steep. Nothing caught my eye.
By 12pm I was totally drowsy. I slowly headed back to Plus Florence Hostel, reached the lobby by 1pm and waited there until 2:30pm. It was ridiculous to see so many people waiting to check in. There rule was that check in for all starts at 2:30pm, no matter whether a room was available or not.
I finally got the keys for my en-suite private room in another building across from the main hostel building at 1440. After a quick shower I was in a deep sleep until 1700. I then started making arrangements to meet up with South African friends who had also arrived in Florence that day. I initially planned to visit Berlin from Munich but once I learned that my friends were in Italy I changed my itinerary to meet up with them. A good decision in hindsight as I did most of my shopping at the Florence outlet stores in the next 2 days.
I left Plus Florence at 1900, set my phones navigation to my friends’ hotel and got there by 1945 on foot.
We ate at a fancy Italian side-street restaurant.
The food was truly unexceptional. Italians are supposed to make world-class pizzas. Not in Florence though.
We purchased gelato after dinner.
I had a pistachio and chocolate hazelnut gelato. We then took a stroll on the 1000 year old Ponte Vecchio bridge with shops on it, that goes across the River Arno.
There was some nice live entertainment taking place at the time.
I then headed off on my 45 minute walk to my hostel, and reached it around midnight.