Travel Guide | Florence

Hello readers!

Today on the blog, I wanted to share all about my trip to Florence! I only spent two days in the city, but that was more than enough time to still see some really cool sights.

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Views from the Pitti Palace.

Coming from Rome to Florence, I immediately noticed the difference between the two cities. Rome is much, much bigger than Florence, so when you’re walking around Florence, you’ll probably think of it as being more crowded than Rome. Despite that, the great thing about Florence is how easy it was to get from Point A to Point B in under 20 minutes, which I loved because it reminded me of the town that I went to college in (Miss ya, Athens!)

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The Duomo.

When I first got to Florence, I decided to walk toward the Duomo and see where I ended up. My pictures of the Duomo don’t do it justice — it is absolutely breathtaking when you see it in person. I couldn’t believe it! I had booked tickets to go inside the Duomo ahead of time, but the problem was that whether you had pre-ordered tickets or not, everyone waited in the same line to get in. Needless to say, it would have taken me about 2.5 hours to get into the church, so I decided to just take it all in from the outside!

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Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower.

Since I decided not to go inside, I went into the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower instead, which is right across from the Duomo. It’s much less crowded and I can’t even explain to you how beautiful it was. The ceilings were radiating with gold, and everything was hand-painted. So incredible!

After going to the Basilica, I decided to walk down one of the main streets of Florence, Via Calimala. There’s tons of different shops to stop in on this street, too! As I walked down this street, I came across this tiny market that sold lots of the iconic Florence leather products, like wallets, purses and jackets. Right next to this particular market was the famous bronze wild boar statue.

At first I was wondering why everyone was rubbing the snout of the wild boar. Well, apparently when you rub the snout of the wild boar and make a wish, your wish is supposed to come true. After hearing this, I was all in! I decided that I was going to make a wish. Judgments aside, I wished for probably the dumbest and most shallow thing ever. I wished that I could connect to Wi-Fi at my hotel so that I could talk to my family at home.

Wishing for Wi-Fi — I know, I know — but I wanted to talk to my family! Anyways, when I got back to my hotel that night, I still couldn’t connect to the Wi-Fi, so I was convinced that the wild boar legend was a total lie. The next morning when I was walking out of the hotel for the day, I heard my phone binging. I WAS NOW CONNECTED TO THE WI-FI!!!! Needless to say, I think that the wild boar legend is in fact, true!

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Pitti Palace.
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Pitti Palace.

DAY TWO

As I began my second day in Florence, I headed straight to the Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace. I had seen pictures of these gardens on Instagram, and it was a really nice day outside so I wanted to make sure that I got there before it was too hot outside. At the Pitti Palace, you can buy tickets to see solely the gardens, which is exactly what I did.

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Roaming around the gardens was so much fun and all of the plants were so beautifully plotted! For me, it made up for the fact that when I went to Versailles two months earlier, none of the plants had bloomed because it was still too cold outside. Anyways, I spent a good two hours roaming around the gardens before I headed on my next journey: the San Lorenzo Market!

Now, this adventure to the San Lorenzo Market would mark the first time that I actually had to bargain for the products that I wanted to buy.

My first tip for bargaining at this market is: If a product already has a price marked on it, don’t even bother trying to get the price down because the likelihood of it working is pretty slim. Now, most of the products within the market do not have a price on them, so get ready to get your bargaining game on!

Shopping in this particular market is all about knowing how much you want to spend and knowing when to walk away from a bad deal. I will also say that it’s super important to put your foot down and stand your ground. I had one vendor try to give me back short change, when I knew how much I was supposed to get back. Just be aware of your surroundings when you’re in the market as well!

Following the San Lorenzo Market, I made my way over to the Basilica di Santa Croce. This basilica is massive, and it has so many intricately crafted stained glass windows that rise all the way up to the ceilings!

After roaming around the Basilica, I went to check out the Scuola del Cuoio, the leather school of Florence. I read about this place in a bunch of travel books prior to visiting, so I knew right away that I wanted to go here!

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Basilica di Santa Croce.

The school is actually attached to the Basilica di Santa Croce, which I thought was really cool and unexpected. When you walk inside, they have tons of displays of smaller leather products that you can purchase. From there, you can walk down the main hallway and see the talented craftsmen at work on different leather pieces.

Fun fact about the Scuola di Cuoio: Neil Patrick Harris and a bunch of other celebrities have paid a visit to it! You can actually stand in the same place that celebrities did! I was sort of geeking out about this because I’m a huge “How I Met Your Mother” fan, but besides that, it was still a really awesome place to visit!

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Seen on the streets of Florence.

After leaving Santa Croce, I headed back toward the main part of town. I still hadn’t ventured to Ponte Vecchio at night, and I wanted to see the Arno River on my last night in Florence! As I made my way to Ponte Vecchio, I stopped at this really awesome paper store that I wanted to share with you guys.

Fun Fact: Florence is also known for their paper products, and this place is where to go for products of true artistry! The owner of the shop is super nice, and all of his products are made by hand. I actually bought a print that was stamped with a thousand-year-old wooden stamp. How cool is that?! The shop is called Il Papiro and it’s located on Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli.

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Arno River seen from Ponte Vecchio.

After leaving Il Papiro, I finally made my way back toward Ponte Vecchio. I can’t even explain the vibes of Florence because they were really just something that you had to feel. Everyone was so laid back, so happy and friendly and excited to be in the city. It truly was one of the most memorable, if not quickest trips that I’ve made in a really long time.

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View from Ponte Vecchio.

Florence surpassed any expectation that I had about the city, and I wish that everyone could have the opportunity to visit. That should have been my wish with the wild boar … well, maybe I’ll make that wish the next time I find myself in Florence!

Stay tuned for my final post about my trip to Italy where I talk all about Bolzano!

Alicia

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