Let me preface my time in Florence by a concise description; extremely long but extremely fun and entertaining days. I got very little sleep, but I had a great time! On the first day, after getting off of the cruise ship, I took a train from Venice to Florence, which takes about 2 hours. Then I hoofed it about half an hour to find the Dany House hostel which has won countless awards but is in the middle of BFE! I finally arrived there and was warmly greeted and informed about the city. I then left my things and hurried downtown for my Florence Town bike tour. The bike tour was a great introduction to Florence. We rode past all of the major monuments and squares in the city and received a commentary from our guide Vanessa. The tour was even more fun because I was there on the day of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city. For St. Johns day, the six major churches in the city dress up in their different colors, often in Medieval Costumes, and they parade around then have a sporting contest that is a mixture between soccer, football, and wrestling. We got to see them parading around as we rode our bikes through the city. We made two stops along the tour; one was to visit a church where there is a carved crucifixion statue made by Michelangelo. That was cool to see; and I got this neat blue cover up church going dress out of the deal! The next was for gelato… Which was originally invented in Florence! It was delicious.
After my bike tour, I hurried back to the hostel and took a shower. Soon after, my cousin Drew got there and after he dropped his stuff and showered, we headed to a dinner place recommended by the hostel staff. We were starving and the food was good and cheap. After stopping back by the hostel, we headed downtown because Italy was in the quarterfinals of the Euro Cup. We also got really lucky to get there just in time to see at least 15 minutes of the fireworks for St. John the Baptist down by the River Arno. The fireworks were some of the most impressive I have ever seen and they went on for quite a while! We were able to hear them long before we could see them, but I’m so glad we made it to the river in time to see the best of them!
After the finale, we walked down the main bar street and went into a place where we could watch the final minutes of the game, which came down to a kick off. The whole city and probably the whole country as well was on its toes until Italy scored the winning goal. Then they went crazy! Everyone was singing and dancing and celebrating. We stayed out until 3am and celebrated with them. We met some great people from Georgia Tech who quickly became our new friends. The combined Italian soccer victory and local holiday made for a great night out.