Skint Travel: Florence

July 20, 2016

Sorrrry! I haven't posted in flippin ages, I have come back from a lovely holiday in Italia and been busy with other things but here we go.
Like I said, I have just come back from holiday in the beautiful Italy with my boyfriend and we absolutely adored Florence. It felt like more of an escape than the touristy Rome we had travelled across from and we loved getting lost in the sunny streets. So I thought that I would love to do a blog post highlighting Florence and how to make the most of this beautiful city whilst on a budget.

Some much needed sun in Piazza del Duomo - marble game strong!

Where to stay:
Florence is generally pretty expensive to stay in and I'm not a huge fan of hotels so we took to Air BnB to find our accommodation. I enjoy the live-like-a-local feel of staying in someone's home that you can't get with hotels, as well as the freedom to cook for yourselves and having more space to relax after a long day exploring. We stayed in a lovely apartment, minutes away from the main sights and surrounded by interesting places to eat that provided the much wanted escape from typical tourist spots. The apartment was cosy and quaint with a great view of the Duomo from our window.

Room with a view.

What to do:

We were in Florence for just a couple of days but we managed to pack in everything we wanted to do. We visited the spectacular Uffizi Gallery on a Thursday afternoon at around 4:30pm, this was probably an ideal time to go as we only had to queue for around 20 minutes (nothing compared to the expected hours) and gave us enough time to look around before it closed at 6:45pm. In my opinion, I would recommend good timing in order to skip the queues, as opposed to paying an extra €4 by booking in advance. However, that's just coming from a skint student and if you're pushed for time then booking in advance is maybe for the best.
The Uffizi does offer a half price discount to EU students aged between 18-25. We actually visited the gallery post Brexit and were met with the very unfunny jokes of the ticket man saying we'd have to pay full price. Nevertheless, try ask for a discount until we've officially left the EU (sad face).
Despite not being a huge fan of Renaissance art I would definitely recommend the Uffizi purely to experience these masterpieces in such a spectacular setting. The most famous piece is Botticelli's Birth of Venus but for me my highlights were found within the building. Walking down the endless corridors with their elaborately painted ceilings and huge windows overlooking the city, one room has a domed roof lined with satin and covered in over 6000 mother of pearl shells and it is absolutely stunning.

Amazing ceilings in the Uffizi

You can't go to Florence without visiting Piazza del Duomo, the sqaure boasts the impressive Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, renound for it's famous dome and marble exterior. The cathedral is free to enter although there is about a 15 minute wait and the interior is far less impressive than the exterior - remember to cover your shoulders or you will not be allowed in. The Duomo itself is no longer free to enter and you must now purchase a ticket for a rather expensive €15. This card allows access to the Baptistry, Crypt and Museum as well which are worth a look, there are no student discounts available either but the view from the top of the Dome makes the €15 worth it. After climbing 463 steps and managing to get a closer glimpse of the beautiful painted interior of the dome, you are met with the most fantastic view over the red rooftops of Florence. This immediately brings a smile to your face and is a great opportunity to soak in the wonderful city.

Hopefully the view will distract from my shiny sweaty face.

Florence is notoriously discount shy and the best they have to offer is the Firenze Card which is €72 and allows for access into all the main attractions and sights for 72 hours. We didn't buy this card as we weren't in Florence long enough to make the most of it, however, if you're a big culture fan with time to spare then this is the card for you.

Where to eat:

We were spoilt for choice for places to eat in Florence, however, we were on a budget and quite a few of the places we fancied were on the expensive side. I'm also vegetarian so it can be difficult to find somewhere that's veggie friendly, especially in Tuscany where meat is a big part of dining culture. We decided to go to a small pizza restaurant called Simbiosi and I am so happy we did. Simbiosi is an organic pizza restaurant with beautiful white brick walls and a very friendly vibe. There are lots of veggie options on the menu but I opted for a classic margherita at a very affordable €6, the ingredients are all locally sourced and organic and the pizzas are baked in a traditional stone oven. The pizzas range from €6-10 and there's also a range of salads and other dishes, the food is delicious and I would definitely recommend eating here.

Super yummy organic pizza at Simbiosi

Inside Simbiosi

Another great spot to grab a quick bite to eat is the Mercato Centrale which is very central and easy to find. There is a huge range of incredibly yummy looking street food ranging from delicious looking pasta to more local delicacies such as trippe. There are some stands especially for vegetarian/vegan customers serving delicious looking burgers. I'm looking at their website now and feeling hungry - so many yummy things!
I had some gorgeous bruschetta from Angelo e Emannuel Campomaggiore, who specialise in buffalo mozarella. I'm normally not a huge fan of tomatoes but they were so yum bum scrum. And of course I had to have some form of gelato and I had possibly one of the best puds I've ever had from the chocolatey ice cream paradise run by Cristian Beduschi. I wouldn't describe the food as being cheap, but it's well priced for the quality you get.
The market has a really cool feel and is so bustling and lively. We ate upstairs where there's loads of seating, ideal for people watching, but there's also loads of stalls selling fresh produce downstairs which closes earlier at around 2pm. The upstairs section of the market is open til 12am, we visited for lunch but I'd be very interested to see what it's like in the evening.

Funky windows inside the market.
*heart beat rapidly increases* mmmmm

Getting around:
Florence is a wonderful sized city so it is best to explore on foot and very easily done, the Duomo and Uffizi are less than 10 minutes apart. We felt safe walking around at night, however, I read that if you are a women travelling alone then a taxi is 10% cheaper between 10pm-2am in order to ensure they get home safely, which I think is a great idea.
On another note I would definitely recommend using the trains in Italy. We came to Florence from Rome which cost just €24 for two to travel in premium class (amazing!), trains are incredibly cheap and efficient and made it possible for us to visit so many cities. In Italy it is probably cheaper buying individual rail tickets as opposed to an interrail pass so this is worth bearing in mind.

Well that's me over and out. I hope you enjoyed my Skint Guide to Florence and I would definitely recommend a visit there as it has so much to offer.

Sophie x

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  1. Oh I love Italy so much, I'm dying to go to Florence next! The ceilings in the Uffizi look stunning and that pizza though... I'm drooling! x

    1. It's so amazing! Defo head over there if you get the chance x