Ponte Vecchio – The Ponte Vecchio never fails to catch your eye. It is a beautiful sight from anywhere along the Arno or many parts of the city. The Ponte Vecchio brings the whole city together and is the central focus point of Florence. In addition to the gorgeous exterior, the actual bridge is always fun to walk over, gazing at the breathtaking views of the city and admiring the cute shops along the bridge!
Via Dell’Orto – This street is a hidden gem in Florence; it is the comforting street of my apartment in the Oltrarno. Many study abroad students don’t get the chance to make it all the way over here, since it is pretty far from the main parts of the city. Despite the far walk to class, Via Dell’Orto has so much to offer. With one of our favorite restaurants, Trattoria Dell’Orto, and tons of fresh markets and meat shops, the street has almost everything I need right at my disposal.
Massimo Leather – Massimo Leather is one of the best leather shops in Florence. The owner, Massimo, is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and he always tries his best to accommodate study abroad students. His motto is “high quality, low prices, good service,” and he definitely holds true to this motto, giving the best deals and offering the best variety of products for students!
Piazza Santo Spirito – Santo Spirito is about a ten minute walk from me, home to delicious restaurants, locals and nightlife. One of my favorite restaurants, Osteria Santo Spirito, is right in the heart of Santo Spirito and many other favorites are there as well, such as Gusta Pizza. The square is always flooded with locals, guaranteed to give you a true authentic Italian experience. I always enjoy my time while I am there, whether it is eating, just hanging out, or enjoying the nightlife.
Piazza della Signoria – This piazza is definitely one of my favorites, partially because of all the history that has happened there. It’s so cool to walk through this piazza almost every day on my way to class and think about what’s gone on in the past right there in front of you. The piazza has beautiful statues and structures that are guaranteed to please the eye, including The Fountain of Neptune, the copy of The David and Palazzo Vecchio. The only downfall to this piazza is that it’s always crowded with tourists, however, it’s definitely cool to see all of the different people that come to Florence!
Piazza Santa Croce – Piazza Santa Croce is yet another piazza in Florence that I cannot get enough of. The Santa Croce Church is a stunning view and the whole piazza puts a smile on my face. It is one of my favorite places to sit on a bench on a sunny day and either catch up on some homework or just relax and admire the beautiful views of the piazza.
Boboli Gardens – The Boboli Gardens is one of the prettiest spots in Florence, and I cannot believe it took me about 7 weeks before I finally went there! The Gardens go on for miles of freshly cut green grass, blossoming flowers and old statues. It is also a nice break from the cobblestone of Florence to see so much green. I would definitely recommend going once it’s nice out and just enjoying the sunny weather and scenery around you!
Il Profeta – This restaurant, located on Borgo Ognissanti, is one of the best in Florence. Although it is a little pricy, you definitely get what you pay for. Owner Claudio gives you the best service you can imagine, always generously offering so many free samples of dishes and desserts. Il Profeta is home of the famous “John Travolta Pasta,” a pasta dish named after John Travolta because he had it and loved it so much. Claudio understands his restaurant is expensive for study abroad students so he does everything he can to accommodate you. This delicious restaurant is an absolute must if you have not been yet!
Gelaterie La Carraia – Right around the corner from my apartment, this gelato place is undoubtedly delicious. Staying away from the touristy areas, Gelaterie La Carraia offers over 20 different flavors with everything you can imagine. My favorites include the mint gelato and the cookie gelato, but no matter what you try at this place, it will be nothing short of amazing!
Antico Noe – This sandwich shop has taken the crown for my favorite uncovered place in Florence as the best lunch spot. You can either make your own with numerous meats and toppings to choose from, or pick one of the many pre-designed sandwiches. I enjoy an Antico Noe sandwich at least twice a week for lunch, always sure to get the delicious #9. This sandwich consists of turkey, Brie cheese, caramelized onions and spicy sauce on toasted bread and it never fails to amaze me. It is a very small shop close to my school, and these small ‘whole-in-the-wall’ sandwich shops are always the ones with the best food. If you haven’t been to Antico Noe yet for lunch, it is absolutely necessary to go and experience the #9 for yourself!
Jennifer is a student at University of Maryland studying at Florence University of the Arts during the Spring 2014 term.