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Today Rami was holding a cooking lesson at the house so it was a Lisa and Luna day – and we started with the steps of the Piazzale to ourselves.

If you want a clear view of Florence, you have to know that the city is absolutely asleep before 10 AM in the winter. Maybe a bit earlier in the summer, but like eight at the most. That means no tourists, nothing open, and this beautiful city without any distractions.

If you don’t want to hike (it is a steep hill, especially when it’s entirely too hot out in the summer), the easiest way to get to the Piazzale is to take the public bus. Number 12 and 13 circle the city and stop at the top of the hill at the parking lot. You don’t have to climb at all, and you get the view. Plus, the bus is comfy in the morning and you can’t really miss the stop – the Duomo rising up in the distance will lure you off the bus anyway. You can get a ticket at any Tabacchi (little convenience stores that sell cigarettes and lottery tickets, etc. You can tell if you’ve found one by a sign with a big blue T outside) for 1.80 Euro and have to stick it into the little yellow machine once you get on the bus to validate it. SometimesĀ you can buy a ticket on the bus, but it’s annoying to everyone and more expensive andĀ sometimes the drivers don’t have any so just buy it before.

This morning at 9:30, 10ish there were not more than thirty people wandering around one of the best views of Florence. The vendors were still setting up and the haze hadn’t lifted off the towers of the city yet. I sat with my dog in the middle of the steps for a bit, wondering how many people had gotten here and were disappointed when they were met with a summer crowd spilling over this entire place. When their perfect moment was ruined by an endless amount of passerby. Or when the rowdy group in the corner ruined the evening. How even in our own wedding photos, tourists line the background. That’s why sometimes photo shoots here are early in the morning.

All it takes is an off-set vacation and the world changes, and suddenly one of the most famous places in the world is yours alone, even just for a moment. Today was just a chance to get out of the house for me – that’s the beauty of living here – and I try and take advantage of it when I can. I ended up in a coffee shop with an enormous cappuccino and a notebook just a little while later. Luna immediately passed out at my feet, and the owner came over to say hi, of course. For everyone else, though, know that off-season travel isn’t so terrible, and sometimes, it may even bring a deeper and more beautiful experience with it.