Lauren Graziano: Sunrise and Sunset

Early mornings aren’t really my thing. I manage to survive them but I most definitely prefer, and I think most anyone would, to wake up after the sun has risen. This past Thursday, unfortunately, did not allow for me to do so, and at a dreadfully early hour we boarded our train (I seem to be having many of these early morning departures despite the fact that after each one I repeatedly tell myself I will only book travel plans at an acceptable hour from then on).

My wallet disagrees with that notion and I find myself with the most budget friendly traveling plans that have a way of consistently requiring me to set five alarms and crawl out of bed before the sun is up. My sleep schedule suffers but my bank account is happy. Besides, in the end it’s always worth it, and it was especially so on this particular Thursday as we were lucky enough to witness a pleasant sunrise outside our train window. We arrived in Pisa just before mezzogiorno and the weather was fantastic, it was as if winter had never happened.
I’ve never been so happy to be blinded by sunlight. We enjoyed a fun photo session with the Leaning Tower of Pisa—I’m certain that any bystanders who observed our carefully planned poses and the excessive amount of photos we took must’ve been amused. A sunny piazza was our next stop where we inhaled a delicious pizza and basked in the warm rays for a short while. And then it was on to Firenze.

Firenze was just as sunny and beautiful as Pisa, vendors lined the streets selling anything and everything—scarves, bracelets, clothing, jewelry, handbags, and, of course, leather. Leather jackets, coats, bags, purses, you name it, they had it. People bumped into people every few steps, the narrow streets simply too busy and small to fit everyone it an organized manner.

If you’re not careful you’ll get lost in the rush, distracted by the endless stands full of beautiful and wonderful items for sale; before you know it, you’ve been shopping for much longer than you initially intended, your arms are heavy with shopping bags, and your wallet is much lighter than it was when you arrived (I reasoned with myself that a few souvenirs are necessary).

Down the street the Duomo looms above the tiny people meandering the cobblestone streets (which, by the way, are not ideal if you are dragging a roller suitcase behind you). A line snakes around the base of the large dome, full of people anxiously awaiting to climb to the top and behold the city of Firenze from high above the hustle and bustle.

Beyond that, down several streets and around a few corners, even more people wait in line to enter the Accademia Gallery and see the magnificent David by Michelangelo. While all of this is wonderfully overwhelming and exciting, the best part is still to come, as the evening approaches and the sun begins to descend.

The hike to piazzale Michelangelo was lovely, and by lovely I mean steep, exhausting, and consisting of many, many stairs. Upon arriving at the top, a breathtaking panoramic view of Firenze awaits, aglow with the orange sunset rays.

An unbelievably beautiful sight and one that I enjoyed tremendously—as soon as I caught my breath and could actually hear the rest of the world instead of just the sound of me gasping for air. As the sun continued to sink, the skyline growing less vibrant, its pink, orange, and red hues giving way to a deep blue night, the city lights of Firenze slowly lit up until the whole city gleamed. And in that one simple moment, watching the sun die and the city night life come alive, Firenze steals a piece of your heart, intent on keeping it so you will return one day for new adventures.

Lauren Graziano è una studentessa americana USAC che studia all’Università della Tuscia per il primo semestre di questo anno scolastico. E’ cresciuta alle Hawaii, ma ora vive in Colorado e studia in una università nello Iowa, dove ritornerà il prossimo autunno, dopo il suo semestre a Viterbo. Ama viaggiare, leggere, scrivere e uscire fuori, sia che si tratti di escursioni, sci, nuoto o altre divertenti attività all’aperto.