Most students end up traveling all over Europe during their semester abroad. However, no one ever really takes the time to truly live in and enjoy the beautiful city that they get to call home for a few months! Between traveling to Paris, Interlaken and the Amalfi Coast, you may only end up having one or 2 weekends free to soak up all that Florence has to offer so make them count! Most students have the great fortune of not having classes on Fridays, so here is our version of the perfect Friday in Florence…
While Italians are famous for their cuisine, breakfast isn’t exactly their forte. Sometimes, a quick coffee and a croissant standing up at the bar just won’t cut it. While you will be spending the day soaking up the Italian culture, start the day off with a proper breakfast at Le Vespe in Via Ghibellina. They have everything from smoothies to eggs to pancakes. Your American appetite will surely be satisfied here.
Via Ghibellina, 76 red
After a hearty breakfast, you are ready to start your day! Head across the river to the trendy Santo Spirito neighborhood. Here you will find less tourists and a cool, funky vibe. Just wandering around you can stumble upon jewelers, woodworkers and artists with their doors open as they work. Head to Via Maggio for some hip vintage shopping, art and furniture. While most of it might be out of reach of the student budget, the cool and unique pieces you can find in the area are worth seeing!
Room with a View
You’ve already done Piazzale Michelangelo more than once but visit the lesser-known Forte Belvedere. It is a bit of a steep (but short walk) to the top, but it is totally worth it! Not only does it offer a better view (in our opinion) of the city, but there is usually an artist’s work on exhibit as well. Plus, since it’s not as well known as Piazzale Michelaneglo, you can steer clear of the inevitably massive crowds that form day and night at the Piazzale.
Via di S. Leonardo, 1
La Dolce Vita
Head back down into the city to indulge in a delicious Italian Gelato. Our favorite is Gelateria dei Neri. Here you can find everything from the standard (chocolate, hazelnut) to the imaginative (passionfruit, salted caramel). Don’t skip out on a true taste of Italian gelato!
Gelateria dei Neri
Via dei Neri 9/11
Maps, Maps, Maps
Everyone knows you have to visit the Duomo, the Uffizi, and the David statue at the Accademia when in Florence and you’ve probably already checked them off of your list. But not everyone knows about the secret gem that is the Palazzo Vecchio. You’ve certainly passed it a million times in Piazza Signoria; it serves at the town hall to this day. However, inside in the museum portion of the building you can find ornately decorated grand ballrooms and, our favorite, the map room. Covered in hand drawn maps (don’t forget that this is before GPS!) created while the world was still being explored and understood, this place is 100% worth a visit!
Piazza della Signoria
After all the beauty at the Palazzo Vecchio, head to Procacci in Via Tornabuoni for a late afternoon nibble. This centuries old historic “delicatessen” serves up some of the best mini sandwiches you will ever consume! We bet you won’t even remember to take an Instagram picture before devouring these famous and too-good-for-words truffle panini!
Via de' Tornabuoni, 64R
Once you’ve had a bite to eat, head down the street to Manifattura for a classy-cool vibe and artisanal old-school cocktails. There aren’t many bars doing cocktails like this in Florence so this place is definitely one you don’t want to skip out on!
Piazza di S. Pancrazio, 1
By now you are surely hungry for something a little more substantial so stroll on over to Trattoria Sostanza just down the street from Manifattura. This classic Italian eatery is famous for its Butter Chicken. But make sure you make a reservation well in advance - the restaurant is extremely small and always packed!
A Cinematic Experience
Now that you’ve soaked up the Italian culture all day long, meander on over to the Odeon Cinema for a little dose of American pop culture. The Odeon Cinema is one of the only theatres that regularly shows movies in English. Plus the old-school stage theater converted into a modern movie theatre is a feast for the eyes. After a day of site seeing in Florence, a little piece of home is a welcomed retreat.
Piazza degli Strozzi