After a short and unforgettable period of time spent in Florence, we decided to write a basic guide for those coming to the city facing the same financial difficulties as us, or willing not to waste money.
We would begin with the most important aspect of anyone’s stay in Italy–the food. Starting the day with a cappuccino, note that if you are to be truly Italian you will only attempt this before ‘il pranzo’ (lunch), there are numerous options for your caffeine hit. A coffee can vary in price from costing as little as 1€ to as much as 5€, if you want to people-watch in Piazza della Repubblica. For this reason we would recommend you get as far away from this tourist hotspot as possible, unless you want to spend the morning mixing with five hundred foreigners who think that 4€ for water is a bargain.
Moving on to lunch. We would recommend a fresh panino. For a real bargain we would recommend a small, very Italian cafè on Via de’Cerchi, where you can choose your filling for 2.50€. You can also find the cheapest Coca Cola in Florence for 1.50€, as opposed to the usual 2.50€, putting the total cost of your meal at 4€. Although it is small, the cafè’s atmosphere and customers are truly Florentine, regardless of its central location just off Piazza della Signoria.
If you are in the area surrounding Santa Croce, we discovered an equally tasteful location off Borgo Abizi. For 3.50€ you will be treated with a generous sized panino (by generous we mean huge), with the result that you will be fully satisfied until dinner.
When we got to dinner, however, we found a delightful restaurant called Club Barone, at 123 Via Romana, which perfectly catered to our need for a filling meal before a busy evening. On the way there, we advise you to stroll through the Giardino di Boboli, which is free for young (EU) students. The Club is particularly recommended on Thursday nights when the restaurant provides an abundance of paella and sangria for a total of 7€ – it is worth every cent. Note: you have to make a reservation and become a member before you go (this is free). If you are looking to practice your Italian, or spot an Italian celebrity, here is a perfect place to do so.
After dining at Club Barone, we were desperate to find an atmospheric Italian bar where no entrance fee was required. One, which came highly recommended by the Florentines, was The Site, definitely the best place for live music, a relaxing drink, and an escape from tourists. Prices are reasonable and ideal for those who want to try something different. If that’s not for you, give Piazza Santo Spirito a try. This piazza, South of the Arno, is a bustling locale for those in their late teens and early twenties, staying lively until the early hours of the morning.
Having dined cheaply, we were looking for a slightly more chic experience! In search of a dance floor, we came across student night at the popular Yab club where entry was 15€ for boys and 13€ for girls. Although we splashed out, it was money well spent, as it was a memorable night. On our last night we thought we would try our luck at Colle Bereto, a sophisticated bar in Piazza Strozzi attracting Florence’s elite. Fortunately we quickly made friends, saving us from having to pay for what for us were somewhat overpriced drinks. If you have not been successful in finding the fashionable and attractive Italians thus far, this is where they have been hiding.
The following morning, before leaving for the airport, we would suggest that you make a stop off at Vivoli on Via Isola delle Stinche. Treat yourself to one, or five, gelati with your savings. You will now officially be ‘senza soldi.’