After two-plus weeks of exploring France, Monaco, and Italy, I still wasn’t ready to go home. But if our trip had to end (sigh!), Florence was a pretty sweet and satisfying last stop.

Of all the places we visited, Florence was, by far, the most crowded. It’s as if every last tourist collectively agreed that Florence was the place to be. If saying scusi and artfully zigzagging around my fellow humans was an Olympic sport, I might’ve been in the running for a medal. Not gold, not silver, maybe bronze.

Maybe it was all the run/walking or sweating from the intense summer heat and wanting a place to sit, but we decided the first order of business was lunch. We found a charming little café with a great view and enjoyed our second-to-last, real-deal, Italian pasta. I went with spaghetti aglio e olio and regretted nothing. Pure garlicky, olive oil-y goodness. Simple yet exquisite.

After noticing the line for the Uffizi and realizing (too late) that we needed a reservation, we had to leave a tour on the table for a future visit (always good to have a reason to come back, right?). Without any fine art to explore, we enjoyed the city’s many architectural delights instead.

The churches, in particular, are such a marvel. You can hardly believe such extraordinary structures exist among the regular shops, banks, and bakeries.  It made me wonder what it would be like to live in a place like Florence. Would you continue to pause and notice all this beauty in your everyday life? Or would you become sort of immune?

We ended our mid-morning/afternoon adventures in a way I think would make the Italians proud. With a couple of scoops of scrumptious gelato and a nap back at the hotel. Turns out, all that people-dodging in the heat feels like a major workout.

When Will and I went back out later that evening, we were treated to the most incredible sunset. This picture certainly doesn’t do it justice but gives you an idea. Florence is such a beautiful city. And at night, the less-crowded streets were filled with music. Classical. Jazz. Experimental. American pop hits.

As we strolled street after street, this motley crew of musicians treated us to quite the performances — just one of many incredible memories of our last night in Italy (for now).