Locals Guide to Florence, Italy | Four Seasons of Travel
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locals guide to florence

Locals Guide to Florence, Italy

So I hear you’re going to Florence, Italy? I have been living in Florence for nearly six months now, so a part of me, is now also a part of this city! Over this time, I have discovered all of the locals secrets which I have finally decided to write out – for your eyes only.

In the summer there are tourist groups scattered throughout Italy, which can make travelling confusing and busy, however with my insider tips and local guide to Florence, you will be able to have a more authentic experience!

 

How to get around?

Walk! It is possible to walk everywhere Florence, as it is an extremely small city. Yes you may get lost four times over an hour, but that’s part of the fun of it. There are so many gorgeous buildings, doors, door handles, windows, decorations and shops, that if you do get lost for a little while – just enjoy the ride!

If you’re staying for a week or two in Florence, you also have to choice to hire a bike here at the Santa Maria Novella station (the purple bikes) or you can get one from Tuscan Cycle on Via Ghibellina, further into the city centre.

ponte vecchio

Where to stay?

Here is a brief area guide to Florence. If you’re only in Florence for a few days I do not recommend staying outside of Centro Storico as it is just too far to walk and the public transport isn’t that great.

If you prioritise staying…

Near the station: Santa Maria Novella station, San Lorenzo/San Marco. If you stay near the station that means that once you arrive it is just a short walk to your apartment – great if you’re only in Florence for a day or two.

Near bars: Santa Croce – For a fun mid-20s night vibe and very central, but about 25 minutes walk from the station. Great if you’re coming for the atmosphere and to spend the weekend in Florence.

Authentic vibe: Santo Spirito – This area is really nice, and most local’s favourite, however it is on the other side of the river and more expensive to rent. It is also about a 25 minute walk from the station.

In Florence the most common form of accommodation are bed and breakfast’s otherwise for cheaper options try AirBnb, Couch Surfing or the few hostels available in Florence.

Two days is enough to see Florence and it only takes about 35 minutes to walk from one side of the centre to the other.

When to visit?

As with most cities, shoulder seasons are best like April/May and September/October, because they are less touristy and the weather isn’t as extreme. Florence is in a gully so when it’s hot it becomes extremely humid and sticky – which isn’t nice for anyone!

Tourist sites:

*Insiders tip* There are so many opportunities to see a view over Florence city centre, however many churches and buildings ask you to pay for tickets to go to the top of the tower to see the view. To me it’s not worth it. Florence has many rooftop bars and also Piazza Michelangelo which you can see a view of Florence for free! While you are at the Uffizi there is also a beautiful view from the top level too, so save your  money and see it for free!

Uffizi Gallery is a must do if you love art and want to see “The Birth of Venus”.

Piazzale Michelangelo and the Giardino delle Rose are beautiful and my number one location to check out in Florence (but there are a lot of stairs so beware). You can find these on the other side of the river, and the door to the rose garden is just before the stairs up to Piazzale on the left hand side – it’s quite small so keep an eye out.
Piazza del Duomo – The main piazza in Florence, as I said before, don’t pay to go up to the clock tower, as there are plenty of views points in Florence for free!
Galleria d’Academia – This has the REAL statue of David. The one in Piazza della Signoria is a fake! I think it’s worth seeing the real one if you have time.
Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens– Palazzo Pitti is an art gallery that was the former home of the King of Florence. The Boboli Gardens are extravagant and well kept gardens behind the palace – you can only walk through these and have to pay to enter.
Palazzo Vecchio – The old home of the King of Florence.

Forte Belvedere – This isn’t close to Florence and certainly isn’t a must do on my list but well… Kim and Kayne got married here!

piazzale michelangelo

Dinner

Note: When I say ‘reasonable pricing’ I mean between 8-12€ for an entree and 13-16€ for a main which is about the average pricing in Florence.
*Insiders tip* Between 6:30pm-9:30pm each night, Florence has bars that do ‘Aperitivo‘ which is where you can buy a cocktail (usually 8-10€) and then get a free food buffet.
My favourites bars that offer aperitivo are Kitsch (10€) and Soul Kitchen (8€), but make sure to arrive earlier at around 6.30pm-7pm because they get really busy. I also recommended Rex Caffe (8€), a fun rock style atmosphere with a DJ and Colle Bereto (10€), something a little more classy!

Restaurants and Trattorias

Trattoria da Garibaldi – Gluten free pizza and pasta menu, reasonable price! Great homemade food.

Trattoria Mario . This one is a cool experience as the menus are hand written on the walls, but it gets extremely busy around 1pm so go early! Very reasonable prices too.

Osteria Santo Spirito – In Piazza Santo Spirito, the customer service is really average, so if you can handle this then give it a go. Portion sizes are huge, the food is tasty and well priced, you only need a half portion to be satisfied. It offers a nice, al fresco casual dining experience.

O’Munaciello – In Santo Spirito, they had gluten free pizza (pictured below). An elegant yet casual atmosphere, I really liked this place. Pricing was reasonable!

Zeb Gastronomia – Great for lunch with its modern style dining atmosphere. Zeb is a little classier and on the more expensive side.

Trattoria Dante – Students get unlimited wine with any meal! The food isn’t fantastic but the wine makes up for it, and pricing is reasonable.

Trattoria Roberto – I have never been but it’s been recommended to me. The prices are reasonable.

Alla Vecchia Bettola Ristorante – I have never been but it’s been recommended to me, traditional Florentine food.

Il Santo Bevitore – Classy and elegant dining experience, I have never been but it has been recommended to me, on the more expensive side.

pizza

Gelato

Where do I even start? There are so many amazing gelato stores in Florence, you’re spoilt for choice.

Some of my favourites are:

La Carraia – Oltrarno on the corner of Ponte Carraia

Amazing chocolate mousse flavour!

Gelateria Vivaldi – Via de Renai, Oltrano – on the way to Piazzale Michelangelo

Really great, high quality gelato.

Gelateria Edoardo – Piazza del Duomo

This one has alcoholic moscato and chianti sorbet!

Gelateria dei Neri – Via dei Neri in Santa Croce

A large selection of fresh, homemade flavours.

Gelateria Santa Trinita – Oltrarno off Ponte Santa Trinita

Chocolatey and creamy – lots of richer choices.

Festa del Gelato – Via del Corso in between Duomo and Piazza della Signoria

A wide selection of random and interesting flavours – more Americanised.

vivaldi gelato

Drinks

La Terrazza, La Rinascente, Rooftop bar

Drinks aren’t cheap here but the view here is pretty amazing!

Rivalta Cafe

Located along the river, this place has a fun vibe, nice drinks and a beautiful view of the water.

la rinascente

Clubs & Bars

YAB Club Great for a big night out. Yab is made up of a big dance floor with VIP seating tables around it. 10€ entry with a free drink tab in return.

Blob Club – An intimate bar/club vibe that has a perfect mix of dance floor, chill out space and even a foozball table upstairs. Generally Blob doesn’t start to fill up until after 1.30am.

Slowly – A mix of chilled out seating at the front, and party vibes at the back of the bar. A great way to start the night after an aperitivo.

Club 21 – Intense party, if you’re a woman be prepared to be touched in a way you’ve never imagined, which is a very full on, so don’t be afraid to fight back and push people off you if this happens.

Red Garter All American bar with karaoke!

Otel – 15 minutes outside of the city centre, dress up for this one!

Flo Firenze – Located at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo, Flo Firenze has a beautiful view and a wonderful layout over looking the whole of Florence. Make sure you dress up for this bar, limited space also!

Twice Club – Don’t even bother going here, it’s terrible, I DO NOT recommend this club.

 

Other

  • Free water in Piazza della Signoria to the left hand side of David and behind the fountain.
  • Don’t buy from the guys on the streets selling from the ground/sheets – it’s all illegal and if you get caught buying from them you too pay a fine.
  • In Italy you can ride on either side of the road with a bicycle – so go crazy!
  • Italian currency is in Euro and there are cash machines all through Florence.
  • In summer, Florence is extremely humid and hot reaching around 35 degrees Celsius. Make sure you drink a lot of water and prepare for the heat.
  • You can dress how you wish in Italy, however if you’re a woman and wearing short shorts and a low cut top: be prepared for a lot of stares, “Ciao Bella!” and whistles.
  • Cobblestones are everywhere in Florence, so wear comfortable and supportive shoes because you may trip over the uneven surfaces a few times.
roberto cavalli

Do you have any tips to add to this guide to Florence?

Comment below and let me know!

2 Comments
  • Amelia
    Posted at 18:35h, 26 June Reply

    Thankyou Cherise, this is a perfect guide! Exactly what i needed to know. Cant wait to get over to Firenze and try out all ya tips! x

    • Cherise Joelle
      Posted at 18:47h, 26 June Reply

      So glad I could help 🙂 Enjoy your trip my dear! x

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