After spending two amazing weeks in Florence for our study abroad orientation, I compiled a list of a few of the best places I saw, things I did and places I ate. Here’s my best advice:
Places to see
The Duomo: This is the number one thing to see in Florence. The first time I saw it, it literally took my breath away. I stopped in my tracks. It is so beautiful and big! If you have time, climb the many stairs to the top; you can see all of Florence surrounding you. However, the climb is not for those who are claustrophobic!
Piazzale Michelangelo: If you want to have the best view of Florence, this is the place to go. You can do a long hike (walk all the way) or a short hike (take the bus). The view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo are some of the prettiest you will ever see.
The Leather Market: Want a cheap, but nice leather purse or wallet? The leather market is the place for you. You can almost always find a good deal as the merchants will usually cut down the price, just make sure to haggle with them!
Things to do:
Lunch at Palazzo Medici Riccardi: One of my favorite lunch spots was outside the old Medici family palace; it is a mansion on steroids. It now houses six museums inside! Grab a panino or some pizza and go people watch! Just beware of the pigeons, they like to try and eat your crumbs!
Ponte Vecchio at Night: During the day the Ponte Vecchio is extremely crowded with tourists. It is fun to go and window shop, but the best time to go is at night. It is less crowded and there is usually something going on. My friends and I walked there one night and listened to two men sing and play piano and guitar. It was such an amazing evening and a very relaxing way to end the day!
Get Lost: Every turn there is something amazing. Whether it is a little shop or a beautiful old church, Florence has endless things to see and do. We walked around one night and ended up finding a big festival that was mostly just locals. There was food from different countries, music, dancing, and rides!
Places to eat:
Pizza: Gusto Pizza. It is near the Santo Spirito Church and is some of the best pizza I have ever eaten. They make it right in front of you in a brick oven and it only takes about five minutes. The pizzas are small enough that you could probably eat most of it by yourself or share with a friend!
Gelato: Obviously any gelato in Italy is good and everyone has their preference, but my favorite was the Santa Trinita gelato shop. It is pretty cheap and very, very delicious. Italy is great because you can get two scoops of gelato for only two euro!
Hangout: If you want to have a good dinner, but also be in an area where there are young people, Piazza Santo Spirito is a good place. There are several good restaurants and a lot of night life!
Even though I spent two weeks in Florence, it was still not enough. There is still so much to see, things to do and food to eat! So get going, get lost and eat lots of gelato!