Tag: florence

How to spend a day in Florence for under 25€

 

How to…
Spend a day in Florence

for under 25 Euro


When many people think “Wow, I’d love to go to Europe!”, their very next thought is often “…but damn it must be expensive!” I must admit, I was one of those people too.  It’s a shame, because this fear costs people a whole lot more — the chance to travel and experience the world, to be exposed to cultures & locales far removed from their status quo.

Let’s just say that dirty little word out-loud together — Tourist. As a traveler, especially abroad, it almost seems to invoke random fees & inflate costs with every step you take. There is a reason “tourism” is its own industry, afterall — entire economies are built & supported by it. But that doesn’t mean you have to take out a second mortgage just to sail across the Atlantic. I’m here to tell you that you can have a blast on your trip — and not file bankruptcy afterwords.

In this post I want to tell you a bit about Florence, one of Italy’s most beautiful cities. And, of course, how you can spend a day exploring this amazing city for the cost of your monthly Amazon Prime membership (or maybe Disney+. Yeah lets go with that!).   

As someone who began living in New York City as a typical college student, careful (sometimes even extreme) budgeting became second nature, continuing as I embarked on a post-graduation solo trip through Europe. That first trip through Europe by myself taught me so much. One of the most important things I learned? You can enjoy a new city without it costing your first-born child. That, combined with what I’ve experienced since moving abroad, lets me confidently say that Florence is no exception.

As birthplace of the Renaissance and the center of art & culture in Italy, there is a combination of unmatched beauty & history in Florence. Without further ado, here is a few ways to enjoy this magnificent city — and do so for under 25 euro! 


Breakfast:
Coffee and pastry at a local bar or café

2.50€-3.50€


Coming from NYC, one of the best parts of coming to Italy for the first time was finding out that the same delicious croissant that would cost you $4 in NYC costs only around 1.10€-1.50€ in Italy – and it’s like, 10x better. Paired with the discovery that Italian coffee is incredibly cheap (an espresso typically costs 1€-1.10€ while a cappuccino is like, 1.30€-1.80€), you can start off your day with a very Italian breakfast like a true local. Just be aware – if you sit down at a café or bar where there is table service, the prices are different – a coffee that costs you 1€ to drink standing at the bar can easily costs 4€-5€ sitting down. My suggestion again is to do as the Italians do: drink your coffee and eat your pastry while standing at the bar.

Want to learn more about coffee culture in Italy? Check out the 10 things I wish I’d known about coffee culture in Italy 


Rick Steves Audio Guide Europe App

FREE


If you haven’t heard of Rick Steves (or even if you have), you need to pull out your phone this second and download his FREE app, “Rick Steves Audio Guide Europe”. I’ll wait.

Did you download it? Good.

Not only is his app completely and totally FREE, but he covers dozens of travel destinations all over the world – including Florence. I have used his app in almost every city I’ve visited, due to the accessibility and informative things you can find on it.

Under the Florence section, you can put in your headphones and listen to the free Florence Walking Tour he offers, filled with interesting historical facts that make you appreciate the beautiful sculptures and buildings even more than just viewing them and not knowing what you’re actually looking at. Make sure to pay close attention and listen to the full tour without skipping through though – because the tour moves fluidly, if you skip forward through any part, you’ll be completely lost as to where or what you’re supposed to be looking at.


Visit the famous markets, Mercato Centrale or Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio

FREE


Arguably the most famous Market in Florence, Mercato Centrale is the ultimate hub in Florence to buy, sample, and eat fresh produce by local artisians. A two-level food market set in the famous San Lorenzo market, you can find, sample, and eat produce from dozens of food & specialty shops. They sell  a bit of everything, such as meat, cheese, pasta, pizza, oil, fish, fruits and vegetables.

I highly recommend visiting Mercato Centrale, if only for the fact that it is quite the spectacle to walk around and view  different types of flavors and produce essential to Tuscan and Florentine cuisine. AND if you see something that you’d like to take back with you home, just ask the vendor – they are very knowledgeable about what can be transported across international borders. They will even vacuum seal your goods to ensure safe transport — and to keep them nice and tasty for when you get home!  

Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is lesser known (and less frequented) by tourists due to its location on the edge of the city center, making it a more common and popular stop for locals compared to Mercato Centrale. In the outdoor market you can find dozens of vendors selling everything you could imagine – fresh fruits and veggies, vintage clothing, plants, household items, you name it — while in the indoor market you can find stands selling meat, fish, and cheese. The market is open only from 7am to 2pm every day, so make sure you plan accordingly! 




View famous art replicas at Palazzo Vecchio

FREE


One of the three main squares in the city center, Palazzo Vecchio  is the jackpot for free outdoor art in Florence, where you can view both originals and replicas of some of the most famous art sculptures in history, such as Michelangelo’s David and Cellini’s Perseus.
(
And guess what! Rick Steves has a free audio guide for this too 😉 )

**Tip: Right behind the big water fountain there is a free water-bottle refill station! The water is very clean, so carry a water bottle around in your bag to fill it up here throughout the day.


Lunch:
grab a panino at Pino’s Sandwiches

4.50€-6€


Ok ok ok – if you’ve followed me for a bit, you know I’m a little bit biased…but I truly do think Pino’s serves up some of the best panini in the Florence city center. The pricing is very affordable, and there is such a variety of options that it makes for the perfect, family friendly, satisfy-everyone quick lunch stop. Besides the portions being absolutely massive (for real though, the panini are bigger than my head), they also have vegetarian options AND gluten-free bread, so no matter your dietary restriction you can find something to eat here. And if you’re not wanting a panino, don’t fret – they also have an entire “gastronomia” section, which is essentially like a deli counter for hot and cold pre-prepared foods.

Beyond that however, Pino and his family are some of the most wonderful and kind people I’ve ever met. Pino is known as the “study-abroad dad” in Florence, so inside the shop you can find dozens of university banners given to Pino from grateful past and present study-abroad students as well as pictures from those students that have made trips back to see Pino after 10, 15, or 20 years. It’s not hard to see why he is so popular — Pino has been known to help study-abroad students fill out confusing government documents, or navigate Italian bureaucracy, but most importantly, he simply genuinely offers a space for the homesick to feel a bit closer to home when they need it. 

Basically, go to Pino’s. Just do it, alright?

Pino’s Sandwiches: Via Giuseppe Verdi, 36R


Gelato at the oldest gelato shop in Florence:
Vivoli Gelato

2.50€


You might need to first walk off that amazing Pino’s lunch, but no meal is complete in Italy without a cup of delicious, fresh gelato – and one of my favorite places to do it is at the oldest gelato shop in all of Florence, Vivoli Gelato.

Yep, you heard that right – the OLDEST gelato shop in all of Florence.

Vivoli il Gelato opened up in 1930 in the historic center of Florence, where it still stands today. Beyond their amazingly fresh gelato and seasonal flavors, something that really makes Vivoli special is that the shop is completely family-run and operated, so you can likely find different generations of the family working inside the shop each day. If you’ve heard the name before but can’t figure out where you know it from, I gotchu – not only has the shop been featured in many different food travel shows, they also have a shop in Epcot at Disney World!

Vivoli GelatoVia Isola delle Stinche, 7R


View gold shops on the Ponte Vecchio bridge

FREE


The Ponte Vecchio Bridge is the oldest and most famous bridge in Florence, and the only bridge across the Arno River in Florence that survived World War ll. The sight of it is absolutely breathtaking and (in my mind) fulfills the perfect history-meets-present image of Italy one would search for. 

Back during the Medici rule, the Ponte Vecchio was where the butcher shops were located – and as you can probably imagine, it was…pretty gross. The stench was horrible and the river was tainted from all the animal waste being dumped in the river. Yuck. Makes me feel better about the Hudson River, I suppose.

Interested in making Florence wealthier (and sick of the god awful smell), Ferdinand Medici passed a law in the late 16th century that all the shops on the Ponte Vecchio bridge must be gold or jewelry shops – and that still holds true to this day. Viewing the incredible craftsmanship of these goldsmiths and jewelers, combined with the fascinating history, makes this a memorable stop to visit.

[There’s also a secret tunnel running above the Ponte Vecchio called the ‘Vasari Corridor’ that was used by the Medici family back in the day to travel – if you look closely, you can see part of the tunnel popping out around the stone tower.]

On another note – as I mentioned above, the Ponte Vecchio bridge is the only bridge in Florence that survived World War ll. As they were prone to do, during the Nazi retreat from Florence they destroyed every piece of infrastructure they could. There’s a rumor that Hitler saw the bridge and thought it was too beautiful to destroy, but that’s not true – in fact, the saving of the bridge comes down to one person, a Nazi official named Gerhard Wolf. You can read more about this story here.

Gerhard Wolf (1886–1962) German consul, born at Dresden—subsequently twinned with the city of Florence— played a decisive role in the salvation of the Ponte Vecchio (1944) from the barbarism of the Second World War and was instrumental in rescuing political prisoners and Jews from persecution at the height of the Nazi occupation. The commune places this plaque on 11 April 2007 in memory of the granting of honorary citizenship.”  


@kacierose4 Points if you climbed it in Assassins Creed 😂 #americansinitaly #lifeinitaly #florenceitaly ♬ original sound – Owen

Dinner:
Local street food at Sergio Pollini OR GustaPizza

4€-8€


If you’re feeling up for the challenge, there’s no better way to fully immerse yourself in Florentine culture than heading on over to Sergio Pollini Lampredotto and trying a panino containing the typical Florentine street foods, “lampredotto” and “trippa”, which is…cow stomach.

I know the look you just made. I swear I’m not crazy. Okay, I’m maybe a little crazy, I mean, I am a woman afterall. That surprise-slash-disgusted look upon your face is completely normal. But don’t worry – Sergio Pollini is arguably the most famous lampredotto street food stand in the city center so they know what they’re doing. I promise!

If you prefer something a little less daring, head over to Gustapizza across the river in Santo Spirito. They offer a range of pizzas at all different price points, but a classic Margherita pizza will only cost you 6€. You can even ask for it to be made in the shape of a heart, which doesn’t change the flavor at all but is very instagrammable 😉
(and, in case you didn’t know, Florence just happens to be one of the most romantic cities in the world, so that heart-shaped pie sort of fits perfectly!)

Sergio Pollini Lampredotto: Via dei Macci, 126

GustaPizza: Via Maggio, 46r


Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo and grab a drink

5€


After dinner, do what any sane person would do and take a nice, steep walk uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo.

I know, it doesn’t sound the most appealing, but I promise you, it’s worth it – Piazzale Michelangelo has the best view of Florence, and it truly is magical. Opt to take the walk through the “Giardino delle Rose” (The Rose Garden) to get up to Piazzale Michelangelo. You can stop and rest if needed in a beautiful garden surrounded by roses. Not that Kacie Rose would be biased or anything, of course. 

At the top there are plenty of food and drink stands where you can buy a beverage for relatively cheap — especially considering the view from one of Florence’s most popular attractions.


Watch the sunset over the red roofs of Florence

Priceless


No further words needed 😉


Total for the day:

18.50€-25€

Well, I’m beat! We fit a whole lot into this spectacular day in Florence…and we did it without having to beg friends for a little Venmo loan too! The most important thing to remember is that if you want to see the world, do it – the cost of visiting places like Florence pales in comparison to the cost of regret.

Happy traveling! ❤️
–Kacie Rose

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The Ultimate Florence Street Food Tour

10 October 2022

The Ultimate Florence Street Food Tour


With Florence being the birthplace of the Renaissance. It beams with art and culture, history in every nook and cranny, and, of course, incredibly great food.  When visiting somewhere new I love to be immersed in the culture of the locals and, in my opinion, there is no better way to do that than a street food tour guided by a local. 

Annnnd this, my friends, is where my good friend Marco and his street food company, Streaty Food Tours comes in. Marco hosts street food tours in Sicily, Florence, Naples, Venice. Marco also believes you get the best experience when you have the local insider scoop. We love Marco. We stan Marco.

Anyway, on a sunny Wednesday morning, Marco called me up to let me know that Streaty was hosting a tour in Florence – for those of you that don’t know, Florence is my personal stomping ground. So of course, I jumped at the chance to experience the place I call home through the lens of a local. (and eat ALL of the food)

Please note: this post contains affiliate links which means if you buy something following a link on this page, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products and services that I use and love myself. Thanks for supporting my blog 🙂


streaty food tour in Florence

We met our Streaty guide, Alice, in Piazza Santa Croce and made our way over to Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. 

Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is one of two major indoor markets in the Florence city center, the other being Mercato Centrale. While Mercato Centrale is the older market and much more well-known to tourists, Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is the place where the locals go. 

At the market you can find everything from fresh produce to local meats and cheeses, pastas and sauces, and of course, plenty of food stalls where you can sit and eat all the delicious food lining the market.

Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

Alice gave us a quick rundown of typical pastas and dishes you’ll find in Florence, such as pici pasta (a type of pasta made without egg), wild boar, and truffle EVERYTHING. Honestly no complaints over here, it all looked delicious.

market in italy

We started off in typical Italian fashion with a glass of wine before being served typical Tuscan crostini topped with “ragu di cinghale”, or wild boar ragu. These were incredible and so, so flavorful. I saw stars when I ate it, literal bursts of flavor! Rich, tender, spiced so perfectly but not overwhelming. 

Plus Tuscan bread historically doesn’t contain salt, which was actually a good thing because it didn’t overpower the ragu and instead just acted as a vehicle FOR the ragu, it’s not often that the bread isn’t the star of the show, but I just couldn’t get enough of the ragu!  (pictured below)

Fun Fact: Tuscany is known for wild boar – they don’t have any natural predators so there are actually way too many of them in Tuscany. As Alice said, “They are destroying the countryside so we must eat them!” Can’t argue with that logic!

tuscan crostini
tuscan crostini

Cue music *I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” 

We also had a type of beef stew called “Peposo” which is a slow-cooked, peppery beef stew with Chianti red wine. 

Workers back in the day would prepare this stew after a long day’s work because it was satisfying, filling, and relatively cheap to make. Think of the most tender, slow-cooked pot roast you’ve ever had and then times that by 10. The meat was so tender and so flavorful. (Don’t lick the screen! You can always book a tour.)

peposo beef strew
peposo beef strew

After we were super satisfied with our first stop we went over to the outdoor part of the market and sat down at a stall that had a total of 3 tables and chairs placed randomly around the stall. 

We were greeted with a huge platter of typical Tuscan mixed bites – Prosciutto, Sorpressata, and other Tuscan cured meats, a mixture of fresh cheeses, a bowl of olives, and, as if that wasn’t enough, a platter of the most beautiful bruschetta I think I have ever seen. 

Fun fact: I hate tomatoes in the US but love them here. How could you not!! Look at how cute it is 😉

tomatoes in italy

Ok for this next part just stick with me – this may or may not make you squeamish depending on where you come from. 

One of the MOST typical Florentine street food sandwiches is something called Lampredotto…. AKA, cow stomach. And it was our next stop – a local food cart known around Florence for making one of the best Lampredotto sandwiches out there.  

lampredotto sandwich florence

Lampredotto is Darios (aka my boyfriend, who is Florentine through and through) fav sandwich, but it doesn’t quite make my list of favorite foods. But, Alice said a glass of wine always helps to settle the nerves. So, that’s what we did before receiving our sandwiches. 

Here’s the thing about lampredotto: the flavor actually is quite good, which is probably why it’s a Florentine favorite. They boil it, top it with parsley sauce and spicy sauce, and all together the flavors work well together. 

If you grew up eating it and it being a common food you consume, I can see why you like it so much. However, this is not my cup of tea.

It is perfectly ok to not like something. But missing out on an experience because you’re scared or it’s out of your comfort zone is NOT.  As my friend Marco always says, you don’t have to LIKE everything, but it’s important that you at least TRY it. And he’s right – I’m glad I did! But in the future it’s probably not going to be my first choice of sandwich. 

street food in catania, sicily

With our lampredotto adventure complete, we made our way to try one of my favorite Florentine street foods, Coccoli! 

Coccoli are little balls of, you guessed it, fried dough, typically either stuffed or wrapped with cheese and prosciutto. I mean come on, it can’t get better than that. 

street food in catania, sicily

To end our Streaty tour we had to get gelato of course. You can’t not have gelato on a food tour in Florence!

dessert, catania, sicily


In conclusion, my dear readers…

If you’re in Florence, I HIGHLY recommend doing this street food tour with Streaty. It was such a great way to not only see the city I call home and learn more about what I walk through everyday, but also to understand the city and more of its history through food. 

Use code “kacierose” for 5% off your Streaty Food Tour!

Book a Streaty Food Tour!

And if you’re visiting Naples, Sicily, or Venice, make sure to check out their tours there too! 

Happy eating, friends!

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5 Places to get Panini in Florence

15 July 2022

5 places to get Panini in Florence


I love Italian food.

I know – you’re shocked, right?

There’s few things I love more than chowing down on a panini – they’re an easy, fresh, and delicious way to enjoy authentic Italian food on a budget.

When I moved to Florence, I made it a mission to find my favorite panini shops in the city. I’ve happily tried dozens of panini shops ranging from famous tourist go-to’s, to off the beaten path, hole-in-the-wall spots unknown to tourists (quite the sacrifice, I know).

So with no further adieu, here is a comprehensive list of my favorite panini shops I’ve tried in Florence so far. Andiamo!


Some bonus tips:


  • “Panini” in Italian is plural, so if you just want ONE, order a “PaninO” 😉
  • No one will look at you weird if you ask for a panino with no meat
  • Italian panini are typically made with just two or three ingredients just to the freshness of Italian products – before you ask for additional toppings, try it as it was made to be first! 

NOW – lets get to it!! 


1. Pinos Sandwiches – Salumeria Verdi

Via Giuseppe Verdi, 36R

Price: 4€-6€

Pros: Wide variety of options for cheap and Pino & his family are the kindest people you’ll ever meet


pinos sandwiches

Ok ok, If you’ve been here for a while, you know how much I love Pino’s. It is my favorite panini shop in Florence, hands down (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a little biased – it really is delicious). On top of having a wide variety of food in addition to panini, vegetarian options, and gluten-free bread options, Pino and his family are just simply put, the best. It’s a popular spot for study abroad students, so much so that Pino has decorated the inside of his shop with dozens of U.S. University flags he has been gifted over 30 years from Study Abroad students. Completely family-run, you’ll always find Pino or his family busily working inside, complete with a smile and a happy “Ciao!” to everyone that walks through the door. I also think you get the most bang for your buck here – with giant panini for only 5€, there’s no way you’ll leave hungry.


2. Panini Toscani

Piazza del Duomo, 34/R

Price: 5€-10€

Pros: You get to taste test their different meats and cheeses and build your own panino.


panini in florence italy

Located right behind the famous Duomo, Panini Toscani offers a unique experience to its patrons You won’t find a written menu inside – instead, you will be greeted with samples of the different meats and cheeses they currently have, and from there you build your own panino based on your tastebuds – like Subway, but 10x better (obviously). They also carry a wide variety of toppings, such as eggplant, roasted tomato, truffle cream – my suggestion? Ask them to top it with whatever they think would taste best based on the flavors of the meats and cheeses you chose.


3. i Fratellini

Via dei Cimatori, 38/R

Price: 4/each, +0.50 for additional toppings

Pros: Overall cheapest option!


panini in florence italy

Open since 1875, I Fratellini is a small, open store-front spot smack-dab in the historical center of Florence. With such a perfect location, I Fratellini offers a delicious, fresh, and cheap option with incredibly friendly workers – make sure to ask for your panini on focaccia bread when they ask. Since the shop is just a storefront, there are limited seats available especially during the lunch rush, but if that’s the case I’d suggest taking your panini over to the nearby Piazza della Signoria.


4. Da’ Vinattieri

Via Santa Margherita, 4/6R

Price: 4.50

Pros: Frequented by Florentine people, little known to tourists


Travel Essentials For Going Abroad

Tucked away in an alley way off the main strip of Florence, Da’ Vinattieri is a popular spot amongst Florentine people – and little known to tourists. A true hole-in-the-wall spot, this shop offers fresh Italian ingredients and basic but delicious panini. They also sell one of my favorite Florentine street foods, Coccoli, which is basically balls of fried dough that are stuffed or wrapped with cheese or prosciutto, amongst other things. They’re delicious. If you’re eager to try an off-the-beaten path spot, Divinatory is a go-to.


5. SandwiCHIC

Via S. Gallo, 3R

Price: 4.50-5

Pros: Tons of student discounts and the sweet red pepper jam is insane


Travel Essentials For Going Abroad

Located above the Duomo and ever-so-slightly out of the highest trafficked footpaths in the city center is another hidden gem with an unassuming storefront – SandwiChic. Popular amongst study abroad students but maybe not so much tourists, SandiChic loads on the ingredients and offers a TON of panini flavor combinations to satisfy every palate. They also do have some seating inside, which is a refuge for the summer heat.


Because I know alot of people are going to ask why it’s not on the list…

All’Antico Vinaio

Via Ricasoli, 121R

Price: 8

Pros: Very famous


Travel Essentials For Going Abroad

Ok, I’m including this one on the list because it is famous worldwide and is a popular tourist hotspot, but in all honesty (and I may get some heat from this), I’m not a fan and I 100% think you can skip it.

While the panino was good, for the price (being on the more pricey end of panini places in Florence) and the line wait time, I didn’t see what was so special about it. I’ve gone back multiple times attempting to find what was so out-of-this-world about the panini’s that make this spot so popular, but unfortunately I’ve found the same thing every time – rude workers and long wait times for just an OK panino. If you’re spending multiple days in Florence and are eager to try the famous shop then definitely give it a go (again – the paninis aren’t bad!), but if you are just looking to grab a quick bite, there are plenty of other delicious, underrated and family-owned panini shops nearby to try.


If you’re still hungry (which, I don’t blame you, the food here is incredible), then check out my Florence Food Guide – a 85 page 3-book filled with 50+ restaurant suggestions in Florence 😉

Happy eating!! 

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