Now that I have been in Florence for about a month and a half, I have definitely picked out some of my favorite things to see, places to go, and things to do. I did my best to compile a list of just 10 of these to share with all of you. The following are in no specific order:
1. Piazzale Michelangelo
After a steep walk up the hill, the view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo (“Michelangelo Square”) is arguably the best. From the top of this hill, you can see a jaw-dropping panoramic view of Florence. My favorite time to go is at sunset, but this is also when the square is most crowded. Pack a small dinner, grab a bottle of wine, and sit on the wall of the square with your friends for a night you will not forget.
2. Le Vespe Café
Feeling homesick? This WONDERFUL café will cure that for you! My favorite dishes come from their breakfast portion of their menu. They have wraps, burritos, French toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, iced coffee, smoothies, juices, and pretty much any other type of food you would want for breakfast. They also have several brunch options such as salads and sandwiches. It is right by FUA/DIVA so it is easy to grab a quick coffee before class or stop by after class to enjoy some food!
3. Gelateria La Carraia
Feel like having some gelato but not breaking the bank? This Gelateria is my favorite place to go because they have a wonderful assortment of around 20 flavors and you can get one scoop for €1! But let’s be real, I usually get the €2 option that allows me to get two flavors. There are two locations in Florence to make it easy to go to no matter where you are at in the city!
4. Ponte Santa Trinita
If you are feeling on the edge (literally), head over to Ponte Santa Trinita, look over the side of the bridge and find the ‘points’, climb over with a few friends, and enjoy the peaceful view of the Arno River. It is definitely a ‘must-do’ for study abroad students in Florence. Just remember to be careful!
5. Giotto’s Bell Tower
If you are looking for a ‘postcard picture’ of Florence, this is the place to go. Head all the way up to the top of this historic tower for a beautiful view. Now that the ‘tourist season’ is pretty much over, you will have even more time to capture a great picture and appreciate every angle of the city the tower allows you to see.
6. All/Antico Vinaio
For the best panino, head over to this wonderful place. You will most likely have to wait in a small line, but it is WELL worth it. Especially because €5 will get you a HUGE panino! There are several options, so make sure to go back more than once to find your favorite. You definitely can’t leave Florence without visiting this place. Grab your panino with some friends and sit along the sidewalk to enjoy with others, or walk to a square nearby to enjoy the view!
7. Gusta Pizza
One of the BEST pizza places in Florence. It is very popular for students and has a very lively and welcoming setting. Prices are more than appropriate for the amount of pleasure your taste buds will receive. Although it is a far walk for some (luckily not for me!), you will be happy once the server comes out with some mouth-watering pizza!
8. Secret Bakery
After weeks of searching for this place at 3am with friends, we finally sniffed it out! In the beginning, all we knew was that ‘the secret bakery’ was near Piazza di Santa Croce. We heard that they had some of the best and most fresh croissants in Florence, so we knew we HAD to find it…and we did! I have the location permanently saved on Google Maps on my phone, but I am not going to give it away because most of the fun we had was in finding this lovely place! Good luck and trust in your nose…our sense of smell was the only way we could have found it!
9. Mercato Centrale
I catch myself going to the Central Market at least 3 times a week. On the first floor of this two-story market, you will find many different vendors that sell their products such as fruits, veggies, meats, cheese, balsamic vinegar, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. And the best thing about the Central Market is that you can almost guarantee that the products you are getting are fresh! As soon as we arrived in Florence, we were encouraged to explore the different vendors to find our favorite one. I immediately found mine and went to him every time I came to the market. After the first week, he started to recognize me and now I can trust even more that the fruits and veggies he is giving me are extremely fresh. You can also head upstairs and find several different restaurants lined up on the perimeter of the building that offer all different types of food. Find what you are hungry for and enjoy your meal sitting in the booths or at the tables, which provide you with a wonderful opportunity to people watch!
10. Apertivo at The Westin Excelsior
Because every once in a while you need to treat yourself! I am extremely lucky to live right across the street from this five-star hotel that has a wonderful rooftop bar/restaurant. Although it is a bit pricey, it is definitely a must to head to the roof and enjoy apertivo any time after 7pm. Enjoy a drink and some extra snacks while looking down the beautiful Arno River as a great beginning to your evening.
I hope that you all get a chance to visit all of these places! If you have any questions or need any other suggestions, feel free to contact me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ciao for now!
Hannah is a current student at Carthage College studying at Florence University of the Arts during the Fall 2016 term.