Famed as a centre of wealth for centuries, Florence need not cost a fortune. Here’s how to make the most of the Tuscan capital for less than 200 Euros and in just 24 hours.
Check in to Hotel Miceli, a short, 10-minute stroll north of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. With rooms from as little as €60 per night, the pensione-style accommodation is clean, with an appealing minimalist design, friendly staff, free wifi, room service and great high-pressure showers.
Stroll down to see the centrepiece of Florence, the overwhelmingly impressive Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. It does not disappoint. Then take a squiz at the smaller, but just as pretty, Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.
Go for lunch at the Mercato Centrale. After doing a lap to assess the numerous options, go back to the only real choice and order yourself a pizza from La Pizzeria Sud. Made from scratch right then and there, I can highly recommend the Capri, which comes buried in fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella. There’s pizza and then there’s pizza. It will taste better washed down with an Aperol. When in Florence, after all …
Pizza €10.50 and Aperol Spritz €7
Peruse the markets outside selling leather goods, cashmere scarfs and silk ties. Try to see the funny side of the traders bargaining with you – and don’t be surprised when the price rapidly drops 70 per cent!
Head back to the hotel for a shower and to don your dinner attire. Stroll down to the Excelsior Hotel and head up to the rooftop. With a minimum €21 price point for a drink in the evening, it will be the most expensive Aperol Spritz you’ll ever buy, but the unparalleled views over the Arno river and serenity away from the tourist trap below make it well worth your while.
Aperol Spritz €21
Go for dinner at Restaurante L’Parione. With incredibly generous serving sizes, its lobster pasta is to die for as is the vino rosso.
Plate of pasta €29 and wine per head €10
Day one total = €137.50
After a good night’s sleep, strap on your walking shoes and hit the ground running with a decent stride to Piazzale Michelangelo. One of the better views across to Florence, this photo opportunity is best in the morning light. You’ll also pass Galleria degli Uffizi on the way and, if you’re anything like me, an obligatory espresso should be enjoyed like a local – standing at the bar of one of the many coffee shops.
After all the exercise you need to refuel. Walk back over the bridge to All’antico Vinaio, for ‘the worlds best sandwich’. A slight exaggeration to say the least, I’d recommend having one made for you rather than choosing one of the pre-made options. Don’t be alarmed when you’re presented with something the size of your head either. At €6 including a bottle of water you won’t be needing lunch!
Panini and water €6
Stroll over Ponte Vecchio – one of the more interesting bridges you’ll see – with small buildings built into the sides of it that are home to a number of jewellery shops. Turn right and wind your way down towards the Boboli gardens. Entry will set you back €7 but it’s worth it to escape the concrete and spend some time among nature. Hot tip: make sure you check that it’s open – it’s a long walk only to find out it’s closed on the first or last Monday of the month!
Entry to Giardino di Boboli €7
Head towards Ponte Santa Trinita where you can experience the best gelato in Florence at Gelateria Santa Trinita. You can’t go wrong with any of the flavours so you should probably have a few to ensure you don’t miss out.
€4.90 for a cup of three flavours
Make your way back up through the streets of Florence, window shopping as you go. It’s Aperol hour again, so make the most of the Italian’s generosity at aperitivo hour and pick somewhere you can pile your plate high with pintxos while enjoying your final Spritz.
Approximately €8 for an Aperol Spritz
Day two total = €24.70
Grand total = €164.90
All good things must come to an end so say arrivederci to Florence with enough spare euros for a fridge magnet or snow globe to remind you of la dolce vita.
Have you been to Florence before? What was the highlight for you?