Medieval times don’t seem so far gone when you gaze upon architecture like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

If you look closely, you can see tourists gathering at the medieval Ponte Vecchio, looking out at the Arno River and the impressive city before them.

Florence attracts millions of visitors every year, and rightfully so. Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, the city is dotted with art galleries and museums. It has David and it has il Duomo.

But for me, the Arno River was the highlight of my time here – and for probably the silliest reason ever. In 2012, I watched The Dark Knight Rises and the character Alfred mentioned that he used to vacation every year to Florence. Every morning, he’d sit at a café along the Arno and drink a Fernet-Branca. For some reason, that always stuck with me. Something about Michael Caine saying the words “Fernet-Branca,” maybe. Anyways, it became a goal of mine to do the same.

I finally accomplished that random goal. And I can assure you, Fernet-Branca is awful and a waste of five euros. But sitting at a café on the banks of the Arno in the best imaginable December weather and admiring the historic architecture, tranquil river and joyful people – that was priceless.

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