In this entry about Florence, I'll be sharing more of what I would've done differently.
MAKE VENICE YOUR LAST STOP.
There is really NO place like Venice in the world. It's magical, and it requires no effort on your part to enjoy the scenery other than casually strolling around. There's more good food than bad food. As long as you go at the end of August or in the fall, the weather will be great. Seeing Florence right after Venice was slightly depressing :)
VISIT FLORENCE FOR MORE THAN TWO DAYS, THE BEST PART ISN'T THE MUSEUMS.
I'm a little biased because I've traveled a lot in my life and I've had my fill with tourist-packed sites and long lines. At this age now, I dislike all of that, and I'd really rather be a part of the local community and enjoy what they enjoy. If you're like me, then don't focus on the museums. Of course visit them if you can, but make sure to spend time elsewhere too. Elias and I didn't have time to do that. We only had a day and a half, which we spent visiting museums. As we were heading south to Rome on a train, we finally got to see what we had missed—the beautiful painting-like view of the countryside of Tuscany with green fields, yellow flowers, and tiny adorable homes with red roofs. Sigh...I lamented over missing a view like that all the way to Rome. A friend had advised us to make day trips, and I wish we had spent our time traveling to the countryside rather than the museums.
IF STAYING NEARBY MERCATO CENTRALE (Central Market), IT'S WORTH VISITING.
We actually stayed five minutes from Mercato Centrale. There is a whole floor filled with different food stands and bars. You can choose where to have a meal, dessert, and even wine tasting. They sometimes have live music there as well. There are rows and rows of vendors selling leather goods in tents around the buildling, but those are worse quality than the proper stores nearby. If you are super tight on budget and don't mind mediocre quality, at least make sure to haggle.
DO NOT GO TO FAST FOOD PLACES—THEY ARE NOT CHEAP, JUST FAST.
We went to a Burger King near the train station on our way to Rome from Florence, and were shocked to find out a meal costed as much as a good pasta dish. One meal was as much as 8euros! I ended up getting a salad.
TAP WATER vs. STILL WATER vs. SODA WATER
At restaurants, they will ask you what kind of water you want. We didn't know we could get tap water (they discourage you), but honestly, their tap water tasted much like our bottled water in the states. I hate tap water because of the chlorine smell, but their tap water tasted good. If you order still water, it'll cost you extra and they don't give you enough. If you are feeling fancy and order soda water, it'll cost you even more. We ordered soda water about three times throughout our trip, but mostly tap water.
Now onto Rome!