1. Get Gelato
My favorite thing about Italy is the amazing gelato. There are so many different little gelato shops, and they all have different flavors! Honestly, you cannot go wrong with any choice of gelato shops. There is a gelato shop where they serve you gelato and decorate it as a flower; the shop is called Amorino.
2. Eat at a local restaurant
There are so many options for yummy restaurants in town! You can’t go wrong eating anywhere, because any restaurant is going to be great and they are all going to give you a different experience! My personal favorite restaurant is Pino’s. It is a cute little Panino shop and they are to-die-for and super cheap!! Most of his Panini range from 4-6 euros. Pino is also a great guy himself and he is kind enough to explain to any super confused American students which meat is what and he will also be glad to translate any Italian words into English to make our lives a little easier
3. Visit the Duomo
The Duomo is my favorite part of Florence! It is so majestic and is a whole lot bigger than I imagined it to be. I have yet to go inside because the lines are hours long. I heard the lines get shorter during the winter months so I am planning on waiting until then to see what’s inside. If the outside is beautiful, I honestly can’t imagine how elaborate the inside will be! It’s always a great back drop for pictures too!
4. Walk the Ponte Vecchio bridge
The Ponte Vecchio bridge is another of Florence’s staples and is filled with tourists whenever you go! It is such a cute place to wonder around and see what the little markets there have to sell.
5. Take a hike to Piazzale Michelangelo
The hike to the Piazzale Michelangelo is a must! I’m not going lie to you, the hike is hard (lots and lots of stairs), but it is so worth it in the end! At the top, you can see an amazing view of all of Florence and the beautiful mountains surrounding it. There are little market stands for souvenirs and there are also refreshments, in case you forgot a water after your long hike.
6. Visit Piazza dells Repubblica
There are many Piazzas in Florence, and they can all get very confusing to remember. The way I remember this piazza is by its very vintage-looking carousel. At night the atmosphere in this piazza is absolutely beautiful! The carousel is lit up, the piazza is filled with lively musicians and pretty lights, and there are so many people around, making it a great place to have a nice dinner at one of the many restaurants surrounding it.
7. Explore the Boboli Gardens
The Boboli gardens are also a hike to get to, but the view of all of Florence is awesome. If you really enjoy nature, this is a perfect spot for you because the gardens are one of a kind! The gardens are a good place to relax and read a book or even have an awesome photo shoot with your friends with some pretty trees in the background. There is also a really cool museum next to the Boboli gardens that I have not been to, but heard it’s worth it.
8. Find the Florentine Boar
The Boar is a metal statue near Piazza dells Repubblica. It is kind of hidden by a lot of little market stands, but you’ll see lots of people in line waiting to take a picture with it! The legend is that if you rub its nose, you will one day return to Florence. The legend must be true, because 5 years ago when I came with my family I touched it and rubbed its nose without knowing the legend (I just copied what the people in front of me were doing)… and guess who’s back in Florence for four months? This girl! So basically rub the boar’s nose if you want to come back one day. Also people put a coin in the boar’s mouth and let it go; if it falls into the little well underneath it then that’s a sign of good luck! If it doesn’t fall in the little well, try again and again until it does!
9. Go out for a fun night with friends
Going out for a fun night with your friends is a must in Florence! There are so many fun night clubs where the music is great and you can dance all night! Space ad Bamboo are favorite night clubs are mine, but every night club is different so it is really up to the person if they like it or not! When you do go out, try to find Giovanni’s secret bakery! My friends and I still haven’t found it, but we are hoping one of these nights we will stumble upon his famous late night Nutella croissants!
10. Go on a little shopping spree
Florence has some awesome stores! My personal favorite is Zara, which is a store that you can’t typically find in the U.S. There are also lots and lots of leather stores, with unimaginable things made out of leather of any color you want. The leather stores also sell their leather at a very cheap price compared to the United States. There are also many hole-in-the-wall stores that have really cute clothes for 10 euros or less (which is cheaper than a forever 21). So definitely hit up all the main streets for a good shopping spree to help distract you from school or even homesickness!
Esperanza is a current student at the College of Charleston studying at Florence University of the Arts, Italy during the Fall 2016 term.