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Italia in 40: Day 4…Police Violence, A Synagogue, and Johnny Cash

There was party on the street outside my hostel last night and they were going hard in the paint until like 3 in the morning and I couldn’t sleep after that, so I got a LATE start. Last night I washed my hair and I put it in a nice twisted bun to dry because I didn’t want to use my hairdryer at such a late hour in the hostel.

Well, this morning after I got dressed and did my makeup, I decided to straighten my hair and so I plugged my straightener in. I have a CHI and I’ve used different CHIs overseas before and they worked pretty good. Not. This. Morning. I am pretty sure I fried my straightener. I plugged it in and let it heat up while I finished getting dressed and I thought I smelled something. I went over to the sink and it was SMOKING!  I unplugged it immediately, but that meant that I had to wear my hair “curly” today…aka frizz central!


After that, I busted out my map and decided to explore the area around Santa Croce.


I’ve been to the Santa Croce 3 times, but I only went there and back to the area around the Duomo. I left my hostel and went to Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi. I’d seen all these posters around Florence for an exhibit that was going on, but I didn’t know it was there. It was really beautiful. It was comparing and contrasting the works of Pontormo and Rosso (I got in for free with my FirenzeCard). It was funny because yesterday I wrote about my inability to decipher art and appreciate it, but this exhibit was awesome! It compared the two artists works from early on, throughout their careers.  One of them was loyal to the Medici family and the other was funded by Florentine aristocrats. Although they were part of the same artistic school, they evolved very differently overtime. It was really neat to see. I think Rosso was the better illustrator, but Pontromo was the better painter and his use of color was RIDICULOUS!

I couldn’t take pictures, but here is a video for the exhibit:

After that, I walked through Piazza della Repubblica and stumbled upon Museo Casa di Dante. I went to Dante’s home and his personal chapel! I haven’t read the Divine Comedy all the way through, but I recently bought a copy and read about 50 pages. I really liked seeing his personal chapel!


While I was there, I saw this place that was selling tripe sandwiches and I wanted to try one so bad, but was afraid of getting sick before starting my day. I might go back and get one on Saturday so that if it’s bad I will have time to recover! 😛


After seeing Dante’s home and chapel, I walked to Santa Croce. Thankfully, I got to skip the entrance line because I had a FirenzeCard so I got in really quick and walked around and took lots of pictures!

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After Santa Croce I walked to the Jewish synagogue and museum (it was closed), then to the Basilica della SS. Annunziata. Walking through the streets on that side of town was so interesting! There were all these posters about police violence and there was a political rally going on (elections are coming up at the end of this month)!

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I saw some cool street art and some other cool stuff!

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It was absolutely GORGEOUS. It is within sight of the Duomo, which I couldn’t believe. I have never been their before and it is definitely one of my favorite churches I have ever been to in Italy! I would definitely suggest going to SS. Annuziata if you ever visit Florence. After the Bell Tower and the Accademia, this is definitely the best thing to see in this city! These women were in there praying and it was beautiful to hear.

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After that church I walked back towards my hostel and got a gelato because I hadn’t eaten all day.


I was so thirsty and grabbed a water too, but I took a big gulp and realized it was the fizzy water…BLEH! I went back to my hostel and dropped off my stuff and then ventured to that eatery I went to yesterday. That guy is so nice and it is so reasonable. It is on the corner of Via dell’Albero and Via Palazzuolo! I got a bottle of wine, a salad, some pasta, and a liter of water for 14 Euros!


I came back to my room and realized there is a club under my room (that explains the partying last night) and there was an Italian band down there playing Folsom Prison Blues! So, now I’m tipsy and listening to some Italian dudes cover Neil Young and Johnny Cash, which is pretty rad. I will definitely venture down to this bar tomorrow night, since it’s literally underneath my bed!

I didn’t meet any new people today, but I did get into 3 more places for free with my FirenzeCard and took a lot of pictures.

Today was a slow, but a beautiful day. Tomorrow I am leaving Florence. I don’t know if I am going to Pisa or Cinque Terre! It should be more action packed than today.

Thanks for reading folks and sorry for the boring material today! 🙂






Italia in 40: Day 3…Museums, Wax Genitalia, and A Pet Hippo!

Today was a lot more calm than yesterday, but I am so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I saw.

I went back across the river en route to Giardino Boboli. I went to the entrance I saw marked on my map and tried to use my Firenzecard, but the lady directed me to the main entrance through Palazzo Pitti. I went there and saw that I could get all of these other tickets for free with my card, so I decided to go for it. I got a voucher for 5 museums and the gardens. I passed the palace yesterday, but I wasn’t really interested…I’m glad I went today!


First I went to the Museo di Argenti that houses a large number of “treasures” from the Medici family. You weren’t supposed to take pictures, but I snapped a few with my phone (shhh, it’s a secret). It was really beautiful and there was so much beautiful jewelry! There were also lots of things from Mexico, China, and Japan that had been given to or bought by the Medici! It was so crazy to think that noble families from that time period were collecting luxury goods from Asia, at random.

I can just imagine all of these noble families gathering for random events. Sitting around a grand room presenting each other with gifts form all the places they’ve either directly conquered or helped conquer by funding or supplying forces. I knew about Italy’s relationship with Japan, just barely, because I read an account of a Japanese ambassador visiting Venice in the 16th or 17th century. The Jesuits also went to Japan for a period of time, so I’m sure that served as a bridge between the two places. I thought the Mexican “treasures” were really random and interesting…obviously given by Spain, but still…

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After that, I went to the Costume Museum. I wasn’t exactly impressed, but it was still neat! It showcased the work of a lot of the pioneers of Italian fashion from the early to mid twentieth century. They did have 3 pieces of really old clothing from members of the Medici family, which was my favorite part. If you are interested in hats, they have a HUGE display!

Once I finished with the costumes, I went to the Palatine Gallery, the royal apartments, and the Gallery of Modern Art. The royal apartments were really beautiful and it was intriguing to see how each room was decorated. The furniture was insane!

The Palatine Gallery and Museum of Modern Art were amazing! There were SO many paintings that I got really overwhelmed. I don’t know much about art, so it’s hard for me to get excited about it, but I was amazed to see the beautiful paintings still coming out of Italy in the early 20th century. Modern American  art (i.e. Cubism)  is really repulsive to me, so I was glad to see artists were still painting beautiful scenery into the 1920s!

IMG_2293<If you can’t tell, that is future Saint Agatha getting her nipples clamped…painted by Sebastiano del Piombo>

I really hate going to places like this because I know for a fact I have seen awesome stuff and famous works by great artists, but if you put a gun to my head right now, I couldn’t tell you what I saw or why any of them were special. Although I obviously find it beautiful, I feel like I take seeing all of this art for granted because, due to my own ignorance, I can’t fully appreciate it. If you are interested in Art or History or just want to look at some cool stuff, I highly suggest cruising the Polo Museale Fiorentino website! They have catalogs and digital archives of everything featured in all of their museums in Florence…which means you have free access to thousands of works of art and historical documents!

After the art, fashion, interior design, jewelry, and “treasure” viewing, I was going to explore the Boboli Garden. I started walking around and realized I could go back to the original entrance I was at earlier that morning and start from there. As I was walking, I noticed another building with an open gate and decided to go see what it was. It was the Museum of Natural History aka La Specola! I had passed it earlier in the morning when I was going back to Palazzo Pitti to get my tickets, but there were hoards of school kids out front, so I decided to wait until another time. I got there about 2:30 and I was the only person there until the very end!

I got in for free with my FirenzeCard and…


It’s 20 or so rooms with ceramic floors and floor-to-ceiling wooden cabinets with rolled glass windows, chocked FULL of preserved birds, fish, animals (including the Medici family’s former pet Hippopotamus O___0), sea creatures and bugs, plus a huge collection of anatomically correct wax figures from early medical researchers! Most of the stuff dates back to the 18th and 19th century. That’s right, there are dead animals older than the United States of America in there! Rather than explaining further, here are some pictures:

Heyyyyy, sexy ladyyyy
Where they do that at?!
The struggle has been real since 1788!


I stayed there until the curator kicked me out because they were closing. I was going to go back into the Boboli Garden, but it was closed by then too. From what I saw, I think the garden I saw yesterday was prettier, but this one may have been more historic since it was a royal garden and not the garden of a private family…at least I’ll have something to see the next time I come here!

After leaving the last museum, I was walking towards the river when I saw the Church of San Felice and decided to stop. It turns out there is an altar piece painted by Giotto in there and from what I gathered, a lot of miracles are attributed to that church! I left a candle offering and prayed a little bit, before getting back on my way.

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I stopped and sat on the steps of the Basilica of Santo Spirito to take some footage for a video and then went back across the river. I saw this cool bar called Volume while I was filming. I might go check it out Friday night. I don’t want to go out at night alone, but it looked really chill, the Yelp reviews were good, and it’s a straight-shot across the river from my hostel, so I think it will be fine!  I stopped on the bridge to take some pictures before crossing:


Once on the other side, I walked past Chiesa di Santa Trinita and went inside for a minute. Some old women had gathered for their daily rosary recitation and it was really beautiful to listen to. Afterwards, I headed toward my hotel again and ended up going through the Muslim sector of town. I found this awesome, small shop by my hostel that was super reasonable! I bought a small bottle of wine, a sandwich, chips, and a fresh salad for only 11 Euros. I told the man I would be back everyday! If you are ever in Florence it is between Via Della Scalla and Via Palazzuolo on Via dell’Albero or Via del Canacci (I’ll let you know tomorrow)!

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Other than the SWEET natural history  museum and walking my feet to the bone, nothing really crazy happened today. If you are planning a trip to Florence I have a few suggestions though! After visiting the other side of the river, I would definitely suggest staying there.   The Otro Arno as it’s called, is surprisingly awesome and much more quiet and clean than the other side of the river (it is probably cheaper too). You could EASILY spend a full day at the Palazzo Pitti and Specola, and another full day exploring the gardens, then just take a few hours to go to the major attractions on the other side (bell tower, Santa Croce, dome, accademia). In the Otro Arno, there are so many beautiful things to see, it is less tourist dense, and it’s just more chill. If you are young and want to party, then disregard the suggestion. Also, dress in dark colors, don’t carry a backpack, wear comfortable leather shoes, and you’ll fit right in!

I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow, yet. I might go explore the area around Santa Croce because I really like it there and my FirenzeCard will expire tomorrow, since it’s the third day. I also might go to Pisa since I’ve never been. If I don’t go to Pisa tomorrow, I will probably go Friday. Saturday is going to be spent going to the laundry, repacking, and more walking (probably over to Otro Arno again)!


Talk to you guys tomorrow!



Italia in 40: Day 2…A Garden, an Elephant (of Death), and VD!

Yeah, you read that right, VD, but we’ll get to that in a little bit!

Well, some of you know this already, but most of you don’t: I’ve been to Italy 3 times before, but always as part of a tour group. As a consequence of always traveling with tours, I’ve never gotten to stay in one city for any substantial amount of time nor have I been able to see random places, since everything was planned out. I think tours are great and I really loved getting to travel, no matter the circumstances, but one thing I’d always wanted to do was cross the Arno river in Florence and explore the other side. I looked on a map before I left home and saw that there are tons of gardens and historic places on the other side of the river, so that was my mission today!

I woke up at about 8:30, but didn’t get out of my hostel until 10:30. Once I left, I went to the tourist office in the Santa Maria Novella Museum and bought a FirenzeCard. It costs 72 Euros, but you get access to the city’s WiFi network, 3 days of unlimited public transport and entrance to all of these museums and attractions for free or reduced cost. After getting the card I was walking back toward the river and an Italian man leaned out of his car and asked me where Via della Scala was (in Italian) and I successfully gave him directions. I gave an Italian directions in Florence, what the what?! 0__0 After finally figuring out how to access the free Wifi, I headed straight for the river. I was really proud of myself because yesterday evening I walked down this road called Via de Tornabuoni and figured out it was going to the river, before I turned around to go back to my hostel. So, this morning I just got on that same road and walked across Ponte Santa Trinita, without using a map or my iPhone…and anyone that knows me knows that hell just froze over if I was able to navigate successfully without a GPS!

IMG_2156After getting across the river I used my FirenzeCard map and made my way to Il Giardino Bardini. I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve only been to botanical gardens in the U.S. and I have never really been impressed, but boy was I surprised. I also used my Firenze card and got a ticket for 6 Euro, instead of 10 (there is a sign saying they don’t take FirenzeCards, but I had mine out and she gave me the discount! It’s 4 acres overlooking the city and it is beautiful: statues, fountains, beautiful flowers, and a gorgeous view!

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After I left the garden I was going to try to find this other garden that I happened to see on the map that is triple the size of this one (I plan on doing that tomorrow, so stay tuned!), but then I saw Forte Belvedere and decided I would go check it out. Apparently I arrived at the backside of the fort though, because there were no people around and two shrines to this dead woman:

The story on her memorial made it sound like there could be foul-play or some kind of other shenanigans involved, so I got freaked out and left. But take note of those elephant figurines surrounding her second shrine…

After leaving Forte Belvedere I decided to walk back down to the river because it was 2 and I hadn’t eaten or drank anything all day. On my way down this old British couple I had passed in the garden, stopped me and the husband asked me where Giardino Boboli was, IN ITALIAN! I told him I spoke English and told him how to get there! Anna-2, Navigation/Italian-0! I kept walking and randomly passed some awesome houses where GALILEO stayed:

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Once I got back down to the river I walked around for a bit trying to find a reasonable place to eat, but I saw a bunch of Italian kids sitting on this cool staircase so I decided to get some takeaway food and go back there. On my way back some creepy dude was standing there staring at me, so I went back to the river and sat on the wall and ate. I got something called Torta Pasqualina.

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It was like a cheese and spinach quiche, with more pastry than egg. I got two, but only ate one, so that I’ll have something for breakfast in the morning!

While I was sitting by the river, a man tapped me on the arm and asked me what time it was. I tried to say I didn’t know before I realized my phone was in my hand. I told him it was two and he said, “Thanks, here’s a gift for you!” Guess what it was?! One of those red, wooden elephants that was around that woman’s memorial shrine! #NOPE

I said no thanks (I wasn’t trying to be mean, but the street merchants often hand you stuff and when you take it they chase you until you give them money, so yeah…) and was completely and thoroughly freaked out!

After I finished my lunch I decided I would go back across the river and get a coffee because the jet-lag was starting to catch up with me. I went back to the same place I met up with my friend yesterday because I’ve been there every time I’ve been to Florence, I know where it is and it’s extremely reasonable! I got a cappuccino and had a selfie session, just to make sure everyone KNEW I was American, haha!



Little did I know that the most interesting part of my day was about to begin!

After the coffee, I still had several hours until dark and I didn’t want to go back to my hostel, so I just wandered. I went into 3 churches before I found a park (Piazza dell’indipendenza). It’s in the sector of the city with a high density of immigrants, so I got some gelato and just sat and watched people, which was really interesting. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and the park was completely filled with groups of 5-6 Asian and African men. They seemed to be having fun, but it made me so curious about immigrant/migrant workers in Italy. I’ve seen Biutiful and Io Sono Li (the latter is on Netflix), about Asian immigrant life in the EU, but now I really want to make a documentary about African immigrants in Italy.

Anyway, after I finished my gelato, I figured it was a good idea that I leave that park since I was the only woman there. I looked on my phone and realized there was a bigger park just a few yards away, Giardino della Fortezza. I walked over there and cleaned out my bag and then was just sitting on the bench getting some sun, when this old man with a cane came up and started talking to me in Italian. I asked if he spoke English and explained that I didn’t speak much Italian, but he didn’t miss a beat and asked to sit with me. He ended up talking to me in Italian for almost an hour and a half! Here’s a little snip-it!

I couldn’t really answer back, but I did manage to say, in Italian:

  • Yes, there was a lot of venereal disease in France during WWI
  • WWII was a tragedy, but good for liberty
  • My dad was in the Army
  • I’m glad it’s sunny, I need to tan
  • Have you lived in Florence your whole life?
  • The 100th anniversary of WWI is this summer

He told me that he was 4 during WWII. His dad was in the war and lost two brothers. We also talked about how Germany is the most powerful and rich country in Europe. He told me about American GIs and VD and Syphilis in France. He informed me that Montenegrin women are the most beautiful and that at one point men would pay 14,000 Lira to have a Montenegrin wife. He talked about the multitude of African and Chinese immigrants in Florence. Told me he was just getting over bronchitis. Sang a few songs. He also talked about how many people died in the war. How he likes kids because they break the solitude. His name was Davide and he was a crazy-cool old man!

SN: I recorded him singing one and I knew at the time he was saying “dick,” but later looked it up and he was singing about a man with a “hard on” hahaha…old men are a TRIP!

I had planned to get an early dinner so that I could actually go to a restaurant, but since I spent so much time conversing with Davide the BAMF Florentine dude, I had to rush back to make it before dark. I got a slice of pizza at a takeaway place by my hostel and then went up to my room.

I walked 8.5 miles, saw some beautiful stuff, and made a new friend!

Tomorrow I hope to go back across the river to the huge garden, maybe check out some old cemeteries, and take A LOT more pictures (the battery in my camera was dead today, so I had to use my phone).

Buona Sera, you crazy kids!

Italia in 40: Day 1…DFW>JFK>Rome>Florence

Italia in 40

How is your Monday going? I hope it’s well!

Well, so far, my trip has been quite the comedy and adventure!

I took off from Dallas yesterday morning at 10:18 and got to NYC around 3. I finally got to try out in-flight Wifi and was able to use Kakao Talk to live chat with friends and even attempted to use the voice-calling feature…it’s such an awesome app! I wasn’t impressed with JFK airport, AT ALL. My flight landed as Terminal 2 and I looked all around and couldn’t find a train, sky walk, shuttle, or even a map to tell me how to get to Terminal 1. I went to the bathroom and some old lady was all up in my bubble, to the point that I literally had to thrust my body into her to get her to get off of me.  I finally got on the Gate Guru app and found a map of the terminals, but it looked like they weren’t connected and I just didn’t believe it. I ended up asking an employee how to get to Terminal 1 and he directed me to it. Needless to say, I had to go outside of the concourse and walk to the other terminal, then stand in an ungodly, long line to get back into the airport. I love people watching though, so it was really interesting! I saw a lot of Hasidic Jews and even saw a group of Jewish kids my age that were on their way to Brussels for a “birthright” religious and historical retreat. I saw a lot of Russians and Koreans and all kinds of other cool people! I had some nasty pizza and spent $20 at the Hudson News buying junk food for the flight. I was happy to see they had charging stations though…I stayed planted at one until they made the final boarding call for my flight. Dirtiest airport I have ever been too…I don’t recommend it.



I finally got on the plane and GUESS WHAT?! I was on a bulkhead row with only one other man! We each sat on opposite ends, which meant we had two seats to ourselves, individual TV screens, extra pillows and blankets, and LEG ROOM! It. Was. Awesome. Everyone told me Alitalia was a crappy airline, but I loved it! They had tons of entertainment to choose from (even subtitled movies…my kryptonite), USB ports for charging your phone, good food, complementary red or white wine (I behaved and only had a glass of white with my dinner), nice blankets, interesting articles in the in-flight magazine, the bathrooms were spacious (considering the circumstances), and the flight attendants were nice! Based on my experience, I’ll definitely fly with them again.


I got zero sleep on Saturday night or on the plane, so by they time I landed in Rome at 8:30 a.m. this morning I was dead. I collected my bag, went to the restroom and freshened up, shifted some of the contents from my carry-on to my backpack and went to the train station across the street to buy a ticket to go to Florence and this is where things took a turn for the “Anna is an illiterate dummy” phase of my day…

Continue reading Italia in 40: Day 1…DFW>JFK>Rome>Florence

Let’s Go to Italy, Folks!

Italia in 40

Are you guys ready for 40 days in Italy?! Let’s get started!

First things first, here are links to all of the social networks you can follow me on! I will be reviewing the different places I stay, taking pictures, making videos, and writing blogs about my travels:

Pinterest, TwitterFourSquareSpotifyInstagramGoogle+YouTubeFacebook, and Fitbit!

If you want to ask me any questions on any of these networks just use the tag #italiain40 🙂

So, what am I going to wear?

Continue reading Let’s Go to Italy, Folks!