I barely blinked as we drove from the airport to our apartment. I couldn't believe my eyes-- I was in ITALY!!! The streets seemed almost too narrow to pass and I was secretly a bit worried about our safety. Once we got close enough to the apartment, which was in the center of the city, the taxi driver told us we would have to walk the rest of the way as cars were not permitted to drive there. It wasn't a problem though, we were literally less than a block away.
Alas, our largest bag which contained most of my husband's things didn't make the flight. He didn't seem too bothered, but it became more of an inconvenience when we were told the airport wouldn't deliver the bag. We would have to return to the airport to claim it, but there wasn't much time to worry about it. Due to the delays, we had just enough time to put our things down in the apartment and make our way to the conference!
Our Air BnB host gave us the number for a taxi and we took a quick ride to one of the most beautiful and historic sites in Florence; La Villa Pietra. The grounds of this beautiful castle were like something out of a fairytale! It was made more beautiful by the site of dozens of Black artists and scholars wandering about dressed to the nines. I thought I'd stepped into a photoshoot for Essence magazine! I saw a few familiar faces and met some new folks from other countries. While waiting for my husband's lecture to start, we explored the grounds, "oooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" at every turn...and trust me, there were LOTS of 'turns'. The villa covered a few gorgeously manicured acres.
Though we had some challenges traveling to the conference, it ended up being quite an amazing and enlightening experience. My husband's panel was one of the last events for the conference. Everyone was brilliant with amazing ideas. I felt so energized.
After the closing, several of the conference participants got together to sight-see in downtown Florence. Being that we arrived so late, we didn't get to do as much as we'd planned, but we did get to see the stunning Il Duomo, the main cathedral in Firenze (Florence).
As we chatted with our friends, we learned that like us, several of the conference participants were planning to travel to Venice the next day to attend the Venice Biennale. We made plans to meet up once in Venice and keep the party going! By this time, all of the emotion, anxiety, and physical toll of traveling started to bear down on us. So my husband and I found a cool little restaurant to have dinner. (You have NOT tasted authentic pasta and marinara until you've had it in Italy! There's DEFINITELY a difference in taste. Plus, I had no problem dining vegan --there are plenty of grilled vegetables (verdure alla griglia) and dairy-free sauces to choose from.)
We dined al fresco as we watched the sunset and then took a easy stroll back to our apartment.
Sadly, the 3 days we planned to have in Florence was cut to less than 36 hours, but I still managed to have a good time. My anxiety about traveling was rapidly slipping away.Though I didn't get the full Firenze experience this time, I don't feel too bad, because I will be back. It's a city that I'd definitely wanna revisit and FULLY explore!