While aboard my cruise ship, my friends and I  had some amazing opportunities to check out various places around our ports of call. In my second contract, we had a relatively boring itinerary, but in the first, we lucked out with a full 12 day mediterranean cruise schedule. We were sailing around Italy, and had pulled into Livorno early one morning. Our plan was to visit the beautiful Italian city of Florence, and we were going to do it all in one day.

We docked early morning as the sun was rising. My colleagues and I struggled to pull ourselves out of bed from the night at the crew bar before, donning clothes, name tags, and sunscreen. Today we were going to Florence to see as much of the city as we could in one day.

Ten of us, all good friends, disembarked together and headed straight for the rent-a-car place. While I was initially planning on driving, two of my good friends volunteered, which was fantastic, since it had been a few years since I’d driven stick. We each paid a small fee of 20 Euros, and the agents took us to our cars for the day.

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In my car were my friends Nunchuk, DJ, Missy, Cuca and myself. Cuca was the driver, and I was in charge of navigation. We needed to get from the port to the old city of Florence – approximately an hour drive. After syncing up the bluetooth feature for music, and the GPS for directions, we were off. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had been in a car.

The drive was uneventful, if you don’t count Italian drivers swerving all around the motorway. The obscenities coming from our Polish chauffeur were absolutely hilarious. With a bit of luck, and lots of time, we found a parking garage and left the car – keys and all – with the garage owner; it was time to see the city.

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To be completely honest, I knew nothing of Florence when we arrived. It wasn’t until after the visit that I learned many things about the city and its history. We met up with the rest of our group in the train station, and together we traveled to see the Heavenly Gates, Ponte Vecchio, David, and many other sites of antiquity. Is it possible to do it all in one day? You bet – we were determined to see everything.

Out first stop was the Florence Cathedral, or the Duomo as we called it. We walked around admiring the architectural masterpiece, and seeing nearby buildings like the Florence Baptistery and its beautiful Gates of Paradise.

We stopped for food at a small pizza-by-the-meter place along the side, and got some Diavola that was way too big to eat in one setting. Scarfing down our pizza, it was off to the next attraction – the Piazza della Signoria. We walked around, took some photos, and it was about this time that I realized that this was the city that Michelangelo’s David called home. While we didn’t have time to see the real one, we got a beautiful view of the replica outside the Palazzo Vecchio.

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As quickly as we hurried in to the Piazza della Signoria, we were off to check out the Ponte Vecchio – the oldest bridge in the city. Snapping some photos of this beautiful bridge, we rushed across to a nearby photo booth. Like teenagers in a shopping mall, we wasted plenty of money on that booth before heading over to get Gelato and see our last stop – the Palazzo Pitti.

Almost running from place to place, we had little time to take in the history, but that’s the cruise life. Sprinting down cobblestones, and stopping for gelato, on a cold rainy day in Florence, we were the life of the city. After checking out the Pitti Palace, we made our way back to the train station, and our rental car, and headed back to the ship for the evening… or so we thought.

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