First timers guide to Florence: Food and drinks

The food is possibly the best thing that Florence has to offer (aside from the sightseeing of course), and there are endless restaurants and cafes to choose from. My time living is Florence was mainly spent trying delicious Italian restaurants and exploring the cobblestone alleyways for new places to eat.

My second instalment of ‘First timers guide to Florence’ lists my favourite places for food and drinks (and yes, I did try all of them, multiple times). Here are my top picks!

Eats

Gusta pizza

Okay so I may be a little biased, but personally, this is one of the best pizza shops in the whole of Florence. Not only does the pizza taste amazing, but you get to see it made from scratch right in front of your eyes. The range of flavours to choose from is limited but the prices are so so cheap. Did I mention how delicious the pizza is? Even better, the staff often get creative and make heart shaped pizzas for their most loyal customers. Just make sure you get there before the lunch time rush to avoid lining up out the door.

20170114_133126.jpgOsteria dei Baroncelli

This place is tucked away in a small alley away from the city centre. However, for the price and the size of meals, it is worth searching for. The menu features traditional Italian pizza and pasta as well as it’s famous Florentine steak with steamed vegetables and rosemary potatoes. Serving sizes are very generous so pick a smaller dish if you want to save room for dessert.

San Lorenzo Food Markets

If you like to have plenty of options, the San Lorenzo Food Markets are the place to go. San Lorenzo is one of Florence’s oldest markets and with two stories of fresh food and produce, it does not disappoint. On level 1 you can find ingredients to cook meals at home from local butchers, bakers and fruit and vegetable vendors. The second level features endless stalls of delicious freshly made pizza and pasta, sushi, arancini balls, beef burgers, chips, soups and literally anything else you can think of. This place has everything, and all for a good price!

san lorenzoAmble

Amble pride themselves on their fresh food and old furniture and this description is perfect. The quirky decor provides a fun setting, perfect for a meal with friends. The alternative cafe mainly serves salads and sandwiches that can be custom made according to your tastes. Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the location is optimal for a quiet lunch or afternoon snack.

Trattoria La Cassalinga Amorino

Located near the Pitti Palace, this restaurant is possibly my number one favourite. The menu offers a large range of choices featuring some of the finest traditional Italian dishes and desserts. The serving sizes are quite large but don’t worry, you’ll still be able to save room for Panna Cotta afterwards. The menu is written entirely in Italian so be prepared to translate. However, the staff are lovely and more than willing to explain each dish on the menu. The delicious food makes the resturant extremely popular so reserving a table in advance is highly recommended.

DSCN0023_1 (2)Amorino Gelatoria

If you’ve visited Italy before, you’ll be familiar with the gelato stores that seem to be placed on every. single. corner. Generally, stores will have similar flavours, but the quality of the ice cream varies. Every time I ate gelato in Florence I told myself “this one is the best gelateria I’ve been to”. Most times I was very wrong until I came across Amorino.

Not only does Amorino Gelatoria produce amazing quality ice cream, but the range of flavours is never ending. The store even has a featured flavour that changes each season. Even better, Amorino creates gelato flowers that not only look great for your Instagram page but taste amazing too.

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Drinks

Amble

Amble makes it into the list for both food and drinks! This place is hard to stay away from, especially for evening cocktails. From a quiet cafe by day Amble transforms into a hip cocktail bar by night. It is particularly known for its Aperol Spritz (and trust me they are delicious) but serves just about anything you want! Can’t see the cocktail you like on the menu? Just ask the bar staff to mix up a drink of your choice! More often than not, they’re more than happy to tailor drinks to your liking!

May day club

Yet another bar known for its amazing cocktails. May Day has a great atmosphere and some of the friendliest bar staff I came across during my time in Florence. Here you’ll find cocktail combinations you have never heard of in your life (but they taste absolutely amazing). The unique decor adds to the experience with funky lights, world globes and records hanging from the ceiling. If you ever want a quirky bar to relax and have drinks of an evening, this is the place to go.

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Do you have any favourite resturants or bars in Florence? I would love to hear your recommendations. Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph.

First-timers guide to Florence: Site Seeing

Living in Florence really taught me a lot about the city. I had the amazing opportunity to call Florence my home for a short time whilst studying a Communications and Media degree at the Institute of European Design. Every single day was a new adventure exploring parts of Italy that I had never been to. I’m basically a local now (despite my limited vocabulary of an entire 10 Italian words).

Florence is an amazing city, with endless adventures and sites to see, most of them being super cheap or even free! Here are some of my favourites.

The Duomo

This is a site you cannot miss. Literally. Because it is an enormous structure right in the centre of the city. The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral (duomo being the Italian word for cathedral) was constructed in the 1200’s and took over 2 centuries to be built. Entry into the duomo is free, but if you’re willing to spend 15 Euro, you can climb 463 steps to the very top of the dome. This 15 Euro also enables you to climb to bell tower as well as enter the museum, the baptistery and the crypt below the church. This I would highly recommend! The view is incredible, even if you climb it at night, in the snow, at -2 degrees celsius like I did.

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The famous Ponte Vecchio bridge

The Ponte Vecchio is one of the oldest bridges in Florence. In fact, the words Ponte Vecchio literally translate to ‘Old Bridge’. Built over the River Arno, the bridge is home to many luxurious (and very pricey) jewellery stores and cafes, all with an amazing view. For anyone visiting Florence, this bridge is a must-see.

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The Pitti Palace

Located on the south side of the River Arno and a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio stands the stunning Pitti Palace. The palace, which was built in the 15th century, is now home to some of the most important museums in Florence. 7 Euro will get you entry into to palace as well as the Silver Museum, Costume Gallery, Porcelain Museum and Bardini Gardens. The Gallery of Modern Art will set you back an extra 8.50 Euro. However if you’re not willing to spend the extra dollars, do not worry as the inside of the Pitti Palace is an artwork in itself.

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Boboli gardens

Located at the rear of the Pitti Palace are the Boboli Gardens. The park features stunning green lawns and ancient oak trees and is also home to Neptune’s Fountain. Filled with incredible stone sculptures, the Boboli Gardens have been coined the largest monumental park in the whole of Florence. The top of the gardens offers an incredible view of the Pitti Palace with the gorgeous cityscape in the background.

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Statue of David

You can’t go to Florence without seeing the Statue of David. The 5-metre tall statue is located in the Galleria dell’Accademia museum and was sculpted by a famous artist of the 1500’s, Michelangelo. A ticket into the museum will set you back around 12 Euro, but it’s well worth it to tick this well-renowned sculpture off your bucket list.

Piazzale Michelangelo Florence

If you’re a fan of photography, this is a site you cannot miss. The Piazzale Michelangelo is a square located on the south bank of the River Arno in the Oltrarno district of Florence. It is one of the most famous lookouts, offering incredible views of the entire city both at day and night. The walk to the top of the stairs isn’t too fun, however it is free and well worth the climb.

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San Lorenzo leather markets

As Florence’s most famous outdoor markets, the San Lorenzo leather stalls are a must-see. The markets offer leather goods at discounted prices with a huge range of handbags, belts, wallets, shoes and coats. If you’re also after small souvenir pieces like magnets, keyrings and diaries, this is the place to buy them. Prices are generally cheap, but if you’re up for it, you can always have a go at bartering. More often than not, it actually works.

Free walking tours

If you love free stuff, then this is the one for you. The Florence free walking tours run twice a day for 1.5 – 2 hours. Not only do you get to see some of the most famous sites in the city but you also get a full history lesson ALL FOR FREE! It is also a great way to explore Florence if you’re only staying for a short time.

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Do you have any other sites in Florence that you recommend? I’d love to hear from you! If you also have an endless love for Italy like myself, feel free to share your travel experiences in the comments below!

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

 

 

7 Travel mistakes you DON’T want to make

Making mistakes whilst travelling happens to everyone and sometimes it’s something we can’t avoid (hello delayed flights). However, if you’re new to globetrotting, travelling can be daunting and errors can often occur. Here are my top travel mistakes you DO NOT want to make.

1. Not packing clothes in your carry on

We’ve all seen it happen. That one person at the luggage carousel who never receives their bags. I was always under the assumption that “it will never happen to me”. Until I arrived in Florence with no luggage, a carry-on bag full of books and just the clothes on my back. Huge. Mistake.

My advice? Packing spare clothes in your carry-on bag is ESSENTIAL. You never know when you might be the one without a suitcase at the baggage carousel.

2. Overpacking

We often have the urge to pack extra clothing “just in case”. But do you really need 9 pairs of shoes for a month long trip? No. Overpacking not only makes your luggage difficult to carry around but can lead to accidentally exceeding weight limits. If you have under packed, do some laundry during your trip or use it as an excuse to buy new clothes whilst abroad.

A woman kneeling on a suitcase full of clothes

3. Using data roaming

Unless you’re in the mood to spend $3000 on your next phone bill, turn you data roaming OFF! Whilst switching your data on “just for a second” is hugely convenient, it is also ridiculously expensive. Alternatively, use a travel sim or local sim from the country you are visiting. If you don’t require data often, rely on wifi. Most hotels and restaurants offer free wifi meaning you won’t have to spend money on a new sim card and can still surf the net.

4. Keeping all of your cash in the one place

Storing all of your cash in the one place is a big mistake. Whilst it is very rare that your money could get stolen, keeping it all in the one place means you lose EVERYTHING if theft does happen. Make sure you split your cash up and store small amounts in different places. Need some inspiration for hiding your coin? Check out these tips from The Travel Insurance Review.

Remember, never carry large amounts of cash on your person. Never take out more cash than you need for the day and make sure you store it in a discreet place (yes, putting your wallet in your back pocket is a big no-no).

travel money15. Not leaving enough time between flights

Booking your connecting flights within hours of one another seems like a good idea in theory. Until one flight gets delayed and ruins your plan entirely. On a recent trip to Italy, I had the grand idea of booking my flights back to back to minimise waiting time in the airport. The next thing I know I was sprinting across the tarmac at Rome Airport and knocking people over with my bag, desperately trying to make it onto my next flight that was leaving in 15 minutes.

I did make it onto the plane (just), but I also learnt a valuable lesson. Leave PLENTY of time between your flights. You WILL need it.

6. Not sticking to a budget

I totally get it. You’re overseas, exploring a new country and the urge to splurge is strong. But continuing to overspend can mean running out of money towards the end of your trip. This is a mistake you (literally) cannot afford to make. You don’t necessarily need to abide by a strict budget, but keeping track of your spending is a good idea. Mobile apps such as Trip Wallet and Trabee Pocket allow you keep up to date with your overseas spending, and tell you exactly how much money you have for the rest of your trip.

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7. Forgetting to notify your bank of your travel plans

ALWAYS notify your bank of your overseas trip before leaving the country. Payments made on your card whilst overseas can seem suspicious to the bank if they do not know you’re abroad. The last thing you need is your card being declined, cutting off your access to spending money.

Notify your bank of your plans prior to departing. Make sure to ask about any foreign transactions fees so they don’t catch you by surprise.

If you have any travel mistakes you’d like to share, let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph