I'm going to be straight-up honest. I didn't enjoy Florence as much as I could have. Not because it wasn't particularly beautiful or interesting, or even because we got rained on for about an hour as we were making our way down the winding path from Michelangelo Square.

Unfortunately, my 36-hour stint in Tuscany wasn't exactly the Diane Lane induced dream I had hoped for, only because I was fighting a terrible cold that made my entire upper body feel as if I was slowly suffocating to death. (This is what I texted everyone back home, on the off chance I wasn't going to make it. Yes, I can be a world-class drama queen. Sorry, Mom.) Like I was saying, Florence wasn't my finest moment.

And for that reason, I feel as if I owe Florence an apology. Because it was such a wonderful part of Italy to explore, with gorgeous churches and amazing statues and cute English bookstores and doughy pizza that I devoured with blissful abandon. Every artsy fartsy bone in my body fell in love with its old-world charm and renaissancial opulence, a playground of history and culture at my fingertips. But you probably wouldn't've guessed it then, because I imagine I must have resembled a disinterested zombie for the better part of our stay.

To what did I owe the bodily suffering that was causing my lack of zeal? Maybe it was whitewater rafting in the mountains of Austria on a very damp and chilly morning, and then jumping in Munich's freezing stream only a few days before. Cue the violent cough that would not subside. Am I complaining? Not even a little bit. It was all so worth it. And actually quite funny, because in the videos that Kristen took while wandering around Florence, all you can hear is me coughing in the background. It makes us giggle every time. 

Florence, you were lovely. In rain or shine. Not crowded with tourists like Venice or confusingly large like Rome. A glorious Tuscan city that stands all on its own.

Luckily, we made it to the top of the city right on time to take in the best views before the heavens opened up and soaked us from head to foot. It was a really hot day, though, so the rain wasn't totally unwelcome. Just a little inconvenient...

We managed to survive the torrential downpour on the way down, but sadly my pigtails did not. Thank goodness for my scarf, which was used to cover up the damage. Taking refuge in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Croce, the two of us sat in silence and said a few prayers before heading back to the hotel to change clothes. Then it was off to a fancy dinner and a technicolor nightclub with the rest of the gang. If there's anything Europe taught me, it's that life is all about balance.

Music was blasting and the lights were blinding. Shots of who knows what were passed around. Declining drink after drink and feeling exclusively lame, I sat nursing a cup of chocolate gelato and taking pictures from the sidelines as the girls grooved on down to the dance floor alongside an outgoing group of Italian men. By this point, I felt slightly feverish, embarrassingly loopy (regardless of my sober state), and a little like my throat was closing up.

But I'll never forget watching Kristen show off her moves like it was her last night on earth. Even though I wish I would have had the strength to join her, looking back, it was probably one of the highlights of my trip. 

Thank you, Florence. Despite my relentless dry hacking and brief but severe bout of hypochondria, you were oodles of fun.