Florence is a place you must experience at some point in your life. Perhaps you have read or heard about Tuscany’s beauty. Like many other things in life, word of mouth or images never compare to seeing the combination of amber, maize, and ecru color tones of. Or internalizing the city’s panoramic view on the hill of with the towering on the left emerging above the surrounding pine, cypress, and olive trees—to the right the top of the omnipresent .
When I first arrived in Florence on the first of October after three weeks in Rome, my mind immediately began noting differences between the two great cities. Florence seemed smaller, more intimate and chicer, whereas Rome was wider, metropolitan, and common. It felt like home and just like back home in New York, I created a life there. I cooked, ate in restaurants, sought culture and diversity, and exercised on a budget.
I read the, an important resource in Florence for local news and events in English which helped me assimilate. (I recommend you pick up the news magazine for free when you arrive.)
With my one month stay, I was able to experience a slice of Florentine life, enough to share with all of you and help you start your own distinctive journeys.
Aperativo buffet at Kitsch Restaurant
Cooking: Receiving 50 euros a week for groceries through my Workaway job [insert Part One article], really helped! Maintaining a budget for food, in general, is useful.
My flatmate and I usually cooked for each other using easy, inexpensive yet healthy ingredients. We created some great dishes, such as a hearty vegetable soup, spaghetti with freshly made tomato sauce, and nutella and mozzarella-filled crepes. Where to shop: Tuodi and Conad are the cheaper supermarkets whereas Carrefour is a bit higher end. You’ll also find many local fruit, meat, and Italian product markets.
Il Mercado Centrale: the coolest and most innovative market I’ve been to. The branding is fun, chill and exciting, just like the market, full of a large variety of food options from traditional Italian cuisine to vegan burgers. Don’t miss it!
Kitsch Restaurant: Aperativo—a drink and food buffet for 10 euros! Their delicious mojitos, freshly made pasta dishes, pizza, and vegetables salads are no less than purely addicting. Via San Gallo, 22R.
La Menagere: converted from an iconic Florence housewares shop to a concept restaurant, this creative two-floor, multi-purpose space has a restaurant, flower and housewares shop, pastry bar, and a jazz room downstairs for live music Friday through Monday. I highly recommend you visit! Website. Via de Ginori 8r.
Off the Hook: a legit burger joint that opened up four months ago. One of the juiciest veggie burgers I ever had. With a side of patate fritte and a glass of international brewed beer, you’re set for the night. They usually have amazing live music Tuesday nights. Facebook. Via Giuseppe Verdi, 47.
Delicious crossiants and hot chocolate at La Boite Café.
La Boite Café: a small, quiet café located about two blocks away from the busy center. If you want good coffee or hot ciocolatta and a fresh marmalade croissant, stop by. Facebook. Piazza San Paolino 3/R.
Ditta Artigianale Café: hip, cool, millennial. Located in the center and open until midnight most days, come with your retro hipster glasses and drink gourmet coffee from around the world such as Ecuador and Kenya. Website. Via dei Neri, 32r.
Gelato at La Botteghe di Leonardo
Edoardo—il gelato biologico: This organic, non-GMO gelato is the best you will ever have in your life! It’s a big statement but I stand by it. They have vegan flavors and homemade cones!
La Botteghe di Leonardo Gelato: A cute, artisanal gelato shop serving closed topped ice cream. The owner explained to us that authentic, fresh gelato is conserved this way.
Coursera: When I was in Rome, I wanted to learn more of European history so I signed up to an Ancient Greece course on Coursera, an online education platform which works with top universities to offer free courses in various subjects to everyone! Other similar websites: edx.com
Duolingo: Planning to learn Italian in Italy, a fellow traveler told me about Duolingo, a language-learning app or online platform that provides an intuitive system of levels to help you learn almost any language for free!
Things to Do
Florence Free Tour: An hour and half walking tour around the main landmarks in the center of Firenze all for free! Guides expect tips at the end but it is open donation.
Free Movie Night at Odeon Theater: Every Tuesday night, visit the opulent one-room theater to see a free movie! Walk right in, get a bucket of perfectly salted popcorn and enjoy the film.
Free Museum Night: Every Thursday from 6pm to 10pm, get free admission to Strozzi Palace.
Shopping: Oh the shopping! No, it’s not overrated. You’ll find shops such as Zara and H&M of course, but then there are the leather shops and boutique shops everywhere: hat shops, glove shops, shoe shops, jewelry shops. Bookstores selling used books.
My favorite stores were Tiger, a Danish design store for everyday products, Bata for leather shoes, the many erboristeria (herbalist shops) such as DeHerbore and Spelzierie Palazzo Vecchio and the leather markets.
Out of Town
Piazza del Campo in Siena
Siena: A short train ride, an hour and 20 minutes from Florence, Siena is located on top of a hill and provides captivating views of the Tuscany landscape. The round Piazza del Campo is the perfect place to sit and mangiare una pizza.
Prato: Currently the city of Prato is commissioning free tours every Sunday from 9:00am to 7:00pm called That’s Prato. The tours depart from Florence with transportation included to promote its beautiful town. I went on the Art and Food in the Renaissance, visiting one of the Medici family’s villas and the historic center. It was one of my most exciting times here in Tuscany! Seats fill up quickly, so make sure to sign up early.
Pisa: An hour and 20 minutes away from Florence, visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a must. Only 8 euros each way with the train.
Cinque Terre: Although I didn’t make it, I was repeatedly told the five villages located on the seaside in the Italian Riviera coastline are magnificent landscapes. One of the guests at my hostel job did the Cinque Terre hike.
Running or Walking: My first day in Florence, I was insistent on finding a gym to work out all the pasta and gelato I ate in Rome—but gym memberships are incredibly expensive.
Yoga: My second day in Florence, I was insistent on finding a yoga studio but again yoga studios are also expensive
I found a huge park around my home where I ran a few times a week and relied on Yoga to the People podcasts (my yoga studio in New York) to lose the pasta weight and get centered.
Biking: Florence is a bike city! I would totally recommend biking instead of taking the bus.
Yab: Missing New York and wanting to dance urban music, I sought Yab, a club near the Odeon Theater that hosts Monday hip-hop nights. While I can’t really compare hip-hop nights in Italy to New York, the DJ played Drake and I was satisfied. 10 euros cover with a ticket for a drink.
Space Discotech: The most popular club in Florence where people of all ages attend! No frills.