Category Archives: Florence

After 3 weeks in Florence, here are some of my helpful tips, highlights, and more from Firenze [as the Italians say it].

Florence, Italy : The Food

Florence, Italy :: The Food [ See the full guide to Florence, Italy here ]

I’m sure you already know this, but Italian food is kind of amazing. Lets just state the obvious. The elephant in the room. During my summer abroad, my roommates and I ate out for pretty much every meal. Yes, it was expensive, but we never actually had time to go to the grocery store & prepare our own meals. Thats the thing about studying abroad in the summertime: there is SO much to do and SO little time.

I think its also important to note that dining is almost a religious experience in Italy. Another European thing that they just get. I am all about the dining experience ( the atmosphere, the people, the drinks, and obviously the food ), so eating was pretty much my favorite part of the trip. Italians often eat slowly, drink for the added flavor ( literally NO ONE drinks to get drunk… its a dead giveaway that you’re American, by the way ), & grab a cappuccino or espresso at the end of meals. So, give that whole process a try… but a warning: the wine in Italy is stronger & SO good… so slow sippin’ is probably a good idea.

Heres a little list of some of my favorite food spots in Florence, along with various things you just have to try:

Cheese & Wine :: Food in Florence, Italy 1. One Word. Cheese : You can get a yum-o little cheese plate at pretty much any restaurant in Florence. I freaking love cheese ( << sounds so strange to say for some reason ). But, who doesn’t? The mozzarella in Florence is literally to-die-for, because its usually made fresh.. like everything else. We could really take a hint from the Italians: Fresh is the BEST. Usually, a cheese plate will include some sliced meats, fruits, & balsamic / honey as well. Too. Damn. Good.

Cappuccino :: Florence, Italy 2. Cappuccino : This little glass of goodness was my BEST friend in Florence. Cappuccino was always there for me: for dessert ( sooooo Italian of me ), during a rough morning, before class, etc. Florentines ( is that a word? ) know their cappuccino, & I honestly think you can get a good cup of this stuff basically anywhere. They even do it To-Go ( which they call “Take Away,” not to-go ). Most Italians will drink theirs at the cafe, because ( like I said before ) they savor the whole experience when it comes to food and drink. Drinking a cappuccino or espresso is not something they do on the go, its something they do in conjunction with conversation / relaxation. So, slow down for a sec, learn some italian words from a barista or the Italian sitting next to you, and enjoy your capp, k?

Mercato Centrale :: Florence, Italy

source: instagram

3. Mercato Centrale : I got reeeeeal lucky because this amazing market was quite literally 20 steps from my apartment in Florence. At the very bottom floor of the Mercato Centrale is a huge underground-looking market with fresh fruit, veggies, pastas, meats, and other foods ( some of them very, very strange ). There’s also a little espresso / cappuccino counter where you can get the cheapest capp in town. Its a giant market and is open until around 2, so go early in the day. On the top floor is a collection of cafes / bars / restaurants with an assortment of food & drinks. This part is open pretty much all day. There is also a little store for cooking ingredients / supplies & wine. And theres a kitchen for cooking classes ( sooooo nice ). My friends learned to make Gnocchi in the kitchen at the Mercate Centrale. It is near the main train station in Florence, and a very necessary stop on your foodie tour.

Gelato :: Florence, Italy 4. Gelato : Okay, this one is obvious. Florence has a gelato shop on every corner, pretty much. My favorite was Gelateria Edoardo near the Duomo.  A little tip I learned is to generally stay away from the gelato near the tourist hubs ( the Duomo, big piazzas, etc ) , but this place was an exception. Generally, the cafes near tourist areas will be more expensive and less authentic. You see that huge pile of colorful gelato staring at you from the window of that highly-trafficked, touristy cafe? Stay. away. The real deal stuff isn’t that huge or colorful. The size / color is a ploy to attract tourists ( mainly us Americans whom are entranced by the “bright & shiny” things of the world ). The good stuff, I learned, is at the places that have their gelato covered in metal lids. Its a must to find your fav gelato place & become a regular ( this goes for cafes too ). You’ll feel like a local.

Astor :: Food in Florence The Diner :: Food in Florence The Diner :: Food in Florence 5. Astor & The Diner : Are you craving the greasy-goodness of American food? Welp, these two places will provide just that. After being in Florence for awhile, I just really, really needed a hamburger. At Astor, you can get a burger, fries, and a beer for super, super cheap. At The Diner, you can get those things, as well as an American-Style breakfast and much more. If we are being really honest here, none of it is as good as the real thing, but its good enough ( not to mention familiar enough ) to get you through a home-sick, I-need-a-huge-plate-of-grease lull. ( Please ignore the photo quality, iPhones aren’t exactly the most professional… )

6. Da Pinocchio : Okay, so this restaurant was in the same building as my apartment, so we frequented it a lot. One grrreat thing about living in this area was we got to know the owners and workers at this little place. They offer a great student discount ( alongside most other restaurants in Florence ) & great service. I recommend getting the Ravioli with Spinach & Truffle and a glass of the House Red Wine. The truffle in Florence is life-changing and the ravioli here is incredible ( most places will have this dish, actually ). We developed an early loyalty to Da Pinocchio, so I had to mention it. My Gluten-Intolerance was out of control in Florence, but this amaaaazing ravioli was so, so worth it. & Free Wifi lolz.

7. Mimi & Coco : This restaurant was also right next to my apartment, so we frequented it as well. Again, the Spinach & Truffle Ravioli & House Wine is my recommendation here. We became friends with the people who worked at Mimi & Coco as well. I think this restaurant is a little more well-known than Da Pinocchio, but its about the same quality. I loved this place because they would stay open a little later than usual just to feed us after a night out… they never turned us away & we were pretty annoying soo….

Gusta Pizza :: Florence, Italy 7. Gusta Pizza : This one is a must-have. I repeat, A MUST have. It is on the more local-ridden side of the river & the pizza is possibly the best in the city. Its a Firenze classic for study-abroaders. It is on every list of Florence food suggestions, so I had to add it to this one. Theres a reason for that too…. Its unbelievable. I am a lover of really, really thin pizza with delicate, melt-in-your-mouth flavor. This is Gusta Pizza in a nutshell. My friends claim that the Pesto Pizza is the absolute best. It isn’t on the menu, but they know what you’re talking about when you ask for it. I stick with the classic cheese usually ( yeah, I know I’m boring ) & it was no upset.

8. Veggy : As a juice fanatic, I frequented Veggy for their green juice. Florence doesn’t have many vegetarian / juice places, so this is a little gem. It may seem a little expensive, but I didn’t think it was too bad in comparison to most Juice places in the United States. They have all kinds of juices, salads and wraps. Its a nice light option in comparison to most of the other restaurants in Florence. AND the juice is HUGE ( major plus considering my juicing addiction ).

9. Fruit Stands : Another light, detox option is going to a fruit stand. There a couple strewn about Florence. The one I frequented was near the Duomo ( or I went into the Mercato Centrale ), but you can probably find another one close to your area if thats inconvenient. I luuuurve my fruit, so these little stands were heaven on wheels  ( or pegs or whatever ). Also, the fruit is pretty cheap. Overall a good choice for a little detoxifying snack.

10. Ristorante Messicano Tijuana : Are you a Texan or just overall badass who needs Mexican food to live? Well, heres your place. I didn’t get to try it, unfortunately, but my roommates ( who know their mex food ) said it was really good. Obviously, in Texas, we eat a lot of Tex-Mex, but this is real, quality, straight-up Mexican food. The exception is that they have queso, which I’m fairly certain is a Tex-mex thing. But seriously, they have queso, so you have to go this one.

11. Pino’s Sandwiches : This is another one I didn’t get the chance to try, but my roommates who stayed a little longer than me loved it ( as did most people I have talked to about food in Florence ). Its a classic little sandwich shop that is fairly infamous for their yum-o sammies. Its a quick & easy place to stop by if you have a busy day. Or if you don’t. Whatever.

So, I’m not really sure why my lists always end at super random and awkward numbers… it is a painful thing for the perfectionist side of me to look at. Stay tuned for some more Florence tips & helpful info !! Also, don’t forget to check out the entire guide to Firenze here!

Now, its your turn. What is your favorite Florence, Italy food spot? What did I miss?

[ PS ]

Summer in Florence :: 2 Cents From My 3 Weeks

All-Inclusive Guide to Florence, Italy

( Past Post on Florence Here )

Florence, Italy. I mean, it really is the perfect city to study abroad in ( esp if its your first time in Italy ). Its relatively small & the city is filled with students, so there is always something going on. Trust me, I lived in a ( weirdly huge ) apartment near the Mercato Centrale ( <<< I’ll cover this later ) this summer while studying Event Planning ( yeah, reaaaaal serious ) at Lorenzo de’Medici, and it seemed like the streets were NEVER quiet. Which is exciting, and somewhat annoying, but mostly exciting.

Before I got to Italy, I consulted TONS of blogs / people about all the things I had to see / eat / do / etc, ( okay, so sometimes I’m a little over-prepared ) and it was super helpful to have an idea of the city before I got there. Its a pretty small city, but its over-flowing with culture / interesting people / good restaurants & bars / etc, so your to-do list might get a little overwhelming. ( BTW :: Girl in Florence is a GREAT reference for anyone who is planning on studying / visiting the city ). For me, three weeks was not enough to see everything I wanted to … so, I guess that means I’ll just have to go back soon ( fine by me ).

One of my good friends is studying there this fall, and I promised her that I would make her a little list of all my favorite spots in the city ( & weekend trips !! ). So, why not share it with the rest of the world? If I can help anyone else have a bomb-azz time in Florence, I’m a happy girl. Instead of making one longgggg, drawn-out post, I’ll split it up into:

1. 2 Cents From My 3 Weeks :: random tips / helpful stuff to maximize your amazing experience & have enough money to do everything you want << This Post

2. Food in Florence :: Omg, You’ll die.

3. Weekend Trips You Gotta Take

4. Night Out On the Town :: The Best Bars / Clubs

5. Shopping :: The Best Leather store in town & more!

6. A fun little Compilation Video of my time in Italy / France / Monaco !! ( Go – Pro is a must-bring )

So, Here goes some stuff you need to know to help you : 1) stay afloat monetarily ( nearly, impossible.. FYI ), 2) know what to expect.. its not all butterflies & rainbows ( you’ll miss some things about the US ), 3) get around town, 4) Etc. Etc. Etc.

Florence, Italy :: My 2 Cents on my 3 weeks :: Ramblings of a Wild One

Tipity-Tips ( in no particular order ):

1. Cash is your BFF. Because of international transfer charges, using your credit card ( most cards, at least ) is more expensive overseas because you are charged extra. Florence is an expensive city already, so you don’t wanna waste money because you’re too lazy to hit up the ATM.

2. Exchange your money at a bank / post office for the best exchange rates. I had to exchange my American money right when I got off the plane in the airport, and they rip you off big time. Convenient but brutal. So, either get a handful of euros from your bank before you leave ( good idea ), or find a bank or post-office in Florence to exchange your dolla-dolla-bills. Bringing a good amount of cash with you & limiting your trips to the ATM ( get more money out than you think you need ) will save you money on ATM fees as well.

3. Before you go, at least try to learn a few Italian phrases. Only one of my friends did this, so we found ourselves leaning heavily on her for vocabulary. A lot of people speak English, but you’ll run into your fair share who don’t. And its frustrating. So, learn some simple phrases before you go; it’ll help you out A LOT. Plus, You get major brownie-points with Italians when you at least TRY to speak / respect their language. Don’t just expect them to speak English… apparently it can be considered rude. ( Mostly what happens :: you try to speak Italian and they look at you like “oh, what a cute little American” and then they will turn to English because they don’t want to have to hear you butcher another Italian word )

4. Also:: Before you go, Plan ahead for any medication you take ( sometimes you can’t get the same meds over there ) & make copies of all your prescriptions. Its just a good idea to have copies of these for proof that you got your meds from a real doctor and not illegally. I left some medication on the plane on the way to Florence, and I was able to tell a doctor there exactly what it was / how much I needed / etc. Very handy if you lose everything, all the time ( me ).

5. Wifi. Wifi. Wifi. So, if you aren’t planning on spending a bijillion dollars on an international plan, wifi is your best bet. Most restaurants / bars have wifi for customers ( they give you the password when you order ). This is basically how I stayed connected with the world.. thank God for iMessage.

6. Save money on dinner :: Aperitivo. This will save your life. Food can be kind of expensive in Florence / Italy in general, so we went out for aperitivo around dinner time most nights. Basically, around dinner, restaurants have a time where you can order a drink or two, and get access to a yum-o little buffet ( which differs slightly from place to place :: find my favorite places in a post soon-to-come ). This is what they call “Aperitivo.” So, its free food with the drinks you are obviously going to buy ( its Italy, live a little )… AND you can go back to the buffet as much as you want. What could be better?

7. While on the subject, when ordering wine at a restaurant / bar ( which you have to do ), ask for the House Red / White. First of all, its usually reaaaal cheap. Also, it is SO much better. Italians take pride in their locally-made stuff ( ex: truffle oil, olive oil, wine, etc <<< gotta try it all ), and with good-freaking-reason. Its amazing.. as most locally-grown / fresh stuffz is. Also, you’d be surprised how many things that we add to food / drinks in the US are actually illegal to put in food / drinks in Italy ( & the rest of Europe :: article here ). Yeah, gross. Local is a huge thumbs up.

8. Citronella Candles are your other BFF during a summer in Florence. Those bugs will eat you alive.

 Things to Prepare For / What You’ll Miss About Home

1. Free Water :: Florence is pretty toasty in the summer time, and as an American, you’ll want COLD, ICE WATER, because thats what we’re used to. Nope. First of all, water usually costs money, and they bring your whole table a tiny little wine-sized bottle of lukewarm water… seriously. They don’t do ice. People who have told you that sometimes “water costs more than wine” are NOT lying. BUT, you can order tap water at a lot of places for free, so I highly advise that. Considering the amount of wine you’ll probably be drinking, you are going to be feigning for some cold h20 in the morning, so going to a cheap little store and grabbing a huge water bottle MULTIPLE times a day is perfectly the norm. You’ll look obviously American, but oh well, stay hydrated my friends.

2. Air conditioning :: Also, as an American ( living in the most consumption-crazy country that ever existed ), we expect AC in the summer ( or always, if you’re from Texas like me ). Also nope. They aren’t really into the whole air conditioning idea. So, expect to be a tad sweaty, and plan your clothes accordingly. Hey, its Europe, people kinda smell… at least you’ll blend in with the locals. Its a culture thing.

3. Huge, greasy plates of food :: Europeans are in good shape.. I mean, really. More than half of the girls in Italy look like they could be high-fashion models. Besides walking a lot, they eat smaller portions of food. Obviously, the United States is kinda known for fatties ( its a fact ) & our fatty-fat portions of food & our fatty-fat hamburgers, fried chicken, & french fries ( <<< BTW: when you miss the salty-goodness of fries, you can always hit up McDonalds or The Diner… sounds gross, but sometimes you miss all that greasy goodness ). Hungover me missed being able to go grab some chips & queso, fried chicken, b-fast tacos, or whatever other nasty thing I end up convincing myself I need in the morning.

4. Not being confused :: You’ve never really been lost until you’re lost in a Foreign Country.

5. Driving :: Oh my god, I missed driving on big, US roads. We took the train most of the time. Its cheap & convenient, but not the cleanest or most organized system in the world. I missed my car.

6. Cleanliness :: Alright, Florence is a pretty clean city, but its still a City. It gets a little messy at times ( even though they clean the streets completely at night … which I heard from my bedroom every. damn. night. ) Also, Europeans aren’t as germ-a-phobic as we are in the US, and they definitely don’t shower as much. I can see how that is a wonderful & freeing way to live, but I’ve been conditioned otherwise.. I can’t help it. So, be prepared for that.

7. A LOT less Cat Calling / Annoying Street Vendors :: So, you know when you’re walking in the mall and those annoying kiosk vendors bombard your life to ask if you want your hair curled or if you want to try some dead-sea scrub / lotion? Yeah, no thanks. Its awkward & invasive & annoying. Florence street vendors are 10x worse. Basically, you just have to ignore them. Its not rude to do that there, so don’t worry. Also, when those old men yell creepily at you from the bar patio… do as the Italian women do & ignore, ignore, ignore.

8. Large & open spaces :: Everything is smaller in Florence. Cars, streets, rooms, people ( I noticed people are generally shorter / skinnier ), portions of food, etc. Its quaint, but sometimes got a little too claustrophobic for me. I mean, HOW DO THEY DRIVE ON THOSE ROADS WITHOUT DYING??

9. Obviously, I missed my family / friends / my dog. Duh.

10. Did I say AC? Good God.

Now, don’t let all the little things you’ll miss distract you. I’m just warning you, so you can know you AREN’T alone & that you’ll live without all of these things. So, soak up the culture, buy a mini fan, keep some ice in your fridge, & get over it.

Read my other posts on Florence here !!

Until nexxxxxt time, k?

[ PS ]

First Week in Florence: A Photo Diary

Gelato in Florence, Italy

Cappuccino in Florence, Italy

Romper: Pine Boutique // Necklace: Dog Eared and Gilt // Watch: Vintage Gucci // Sunnies: Tom Ford purchased on Gilt

Cappuccino in Florence, Italy

Brandy Melville: Florence, Italy

Top: Brandy Melville // Skirt: Brandy Melville // Bralette: Free People // Bag: Erica Anenberg // Necklaces: Dog Eared, Gilt, and Brandy Melville // Watch: Vintage Gucci

Brandy Melville: Florence, Italy

Close up of Accessories: ft. Brandy Melville “Thug Life” ID Necklace [not sold online]

Brandy Melville: Florence, Italy

My Gal @AllHailGail in Brandy Melville Top and Chanel Necklace [and a spur-of-the-moment crazy wig for a night out]

Florence, Italy

So, as you can tell, Florence has been filled with mostly food, wine, and multiple trips to Brandy Melville [including their awesome shopping event.. with food and a DJ.. what more could you want?]. Since school has started, we have spent our time acclimating to Italian culture, rather than going hard in the tourist arena.. which we are planning to do next week! We’ve spent this week trying to “live as the Florentines do,” which includes LOTS of time spent at cafes and a ton of walking [I can live off of solely pasta if I walk all day right?].

As a student studying event planning at Lorenzo de’Medici in Florence, I’ve been connected with a few opportunities to enhance my skills in blogging [more info to come] !! Can’t wait to share my experiences in this city and elsewhere in Europe.

PS: Check out my feature on the Trend Doc’s Instagram here.

Soon to come: Lake Como, Italy // Interlaken, Switzerland // Nice, France // Monte Carlo, Monaco // the Amalfi Coast, Italy // Athens, Greece // Paros, Greece // Mykonos, Greece // Santorini, Greece 

Stay Tuned!