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Florence on a budget

May 18, 2015

View of the bridgeExperiencing Firenze as a tourist can be an expensive experience.  With the big sites of the Uffizzi, Accademia and cathedral duomo charging upwards of €10, even doing the must-sees can set you back.  Not only that, but the whole city seems at times to be dedicated to relieving tourists of their banknotes: wherever you go there are enticing cafes and restaurants, and if you’re not careful you can end up spending much more than you budgeted for.

So after a recent four-night trip to Florence, I’ve penned some ways to enjoy the sights at Renaissance prices – well, almost!


1. A free walking tour.  The Lonely Planet guide has  a great walking tour of Florence which we followed as a brief introduction to the city.  It took us a couple of hours.  But if you’re looking online, try this one here devised by the Florence obsessed
Hannah and Meg, which takes a day.   In contrast, the little  charges €19/ half hour tour and the red tour bus €29 for a ‘hop on hop off’ ticket.

Santa spirita frescoes2.  Seek out free art.  Much of Florence’s art lies deep inside its churches.  Not all of them are free, but as you go along the street, you might spy an open doorway, so don’t be afraid to head inside to see what treasures lie within.  I particularly enjoyed the frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio in Santa Trinita.  The cathedral itself is also free to enter.  Make sure you don’t accidentally stand in the queue for the Duomo, which is not free and will be much longer!

3.  Visit on the first Sunday of the month.  Many museums, including the Accademia, are free on this day.  We visited the lovely Giardino Bardini.  There is a list of the dates for 2015, and the museums, here.

view from the bus4. A different perspective on Florence.  Wherever we went, the view of Florence seemed just as much of a treat as being in it.  A 20 minute bus ride to Fiesole in the verdant hills above Florence gets you a stunning view of the Duomo and all the sights.  A welcome breather from the Florentine crowds, this little town used to be quite important, and has a number of sites you can visit for free include St Bernard’s cell in a little-visited monastery at the top of the hill.  Walk up the steep road opposite the town’s cathedral and you’ll discover a view, a church, and rooms clustered around attractive cloisters.   To get there, head to Plaza San Marco and look for the number 7
bus.  The ride will knock you back a mere €1.20.

5. Aperitivo.  Forget the three course meal: young Florentines are now eating buffet-style.  They get a drink – typically a glass of wine – and free rein on a cold buffet for less than €8.  Look for the sign ‘Buffet’ especially in the San Marco quarter to the east of the city centre.  Order any drink, then tuck in.  You can usually see the buffet before you choose but expect cold meats, cheese, frittatas and other antipasti.

shakespeare graffitti on the side of a Florence building6. Photography challenge.  Why not create your own photography challenge or scavenger hunt for the kids?  Good subjects would be: graffiti, river life, doorways, gargoyles….

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2015 11:58 am

    Very helpful thanks Nicky, I particularly like the Buffet meal idea – I bet all the dishes are delicious it being Italy too. If we go again, I’ll definitely be looking at this post first 🙂 xx

  2. Meg permalink
    May 20, 2015 2:50 pm

    ciao nicola! thanks for mentioning our walking route here. we loved your roundup of ways to see the city on limited funds, too! take care–the florence for free team.

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