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Expert Tips

 

You Don't Have to Spend a Lot of Money to Enjoy Florence



Florence offers plenty of free activities to keep you occupied during your stay. You'll find much to do just by taking a look into what's available and which sights are free for you to enter. Exploring the city doesn't mean that it has to cost a lot of money, and with a little research, you can enjoy your time in Florence and make memories--free of charge.

Consider climbing up to the steps of San Miniato al Monte for a wonderful view of the city and a chance to see a working monastery. It's a truly magical experience catching mass, and you can enjoy the sounds of chanting monks while you peruse the church and admire its beauty. You can also take home a little souvenir from the monks here if you would like.

No trip to Florence would be complete without making sure to walk across the Ponte Vecchio. It's one of Florence' most iconic sights and is only a short walk away from the rest of the major attractions in the city center. While you're in the area, you'll want to visit Piazza della Signoria for some people watching and a scoop or two of some of the city's best gelato.

 


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The incredible Strozzi Palace has recently begun to allow visitors in for free to the contemporary art museum. If you are thinking about a night out with someone you love, heading over to the palace on a Thursday night can be a wonderful way to get your art fix in without spending a dime. The Strozzi has plenty of cool things to see and new exhibits coming in all the time, but their contemporary art space is one of the most fun and interesting things to see at the museum. It's also centrally-located and close to all the restaurants and hotels so it's easy to make a night of it.




What better way to see Florence than to walk among the cobblestoned streets and learn something new about the city? Florence's free walking tours offer an opportunity to enjoy the city in a way you never have before. The guides are all there on their own time--meaning they love Florence so much that they want to share their adoration with visitors. They are scheduled several times a week so if you are planning on staying in Florence for a few days, you can be sure to catch one. A free walking tour is one of the best ways to get to know a city.




Open to everyone, the Mercato Centrale has some incredible options for those looking for gifts or those who just want to take a look around. You'll find all sorts of good, local foods here worth taking home to family or just to try. It's also a wonderful way to see the inner workings of an Italian market and to get a glimpse of how important food is to the culture. Fresh fruits and vegetables are all available, as well as various types of meats. You can also find the most important staple of Tuscan cooking, olive oil. It's free to enter and take a gawk around, and you can also find some free samples available to try.


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Parco delle Cascine
Photo courtesy of Auto Euorpa

Located just a little bit outside the city center, you can find a relaxing spot to sit and enjoy nature. Cascine Park is one of the best places to get away from the cobblestoned streets and to enjoy trees and nature. You'll find places where you can buy water if you like, and it also serves as a wonderful spot to run or ride a rented bike. There are also markets and a fair for kids available if they want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. It's free to enter and you can walk several miles before it ends. It's also a good place to pick up small souvenirs to take home to friends.




Located on the bank of the Arno, you can now find a small beach worth visiting and catching a tan. Make sure to bring your towels and sunblock as you sit in the sand and enjoy your holiday. You will find snack and drink stands available if you start to feel the need for either, and the best part is that it's a completely free activity to sit out and enjoy some of the Tuscan rays. You'll also find soccer games (of football in Italian) playing out here during the evenings during the summer--you'll want to get there early. It tends to be a busy spot.




Few people know that they can get into the Duomo for free. Though you might need to purchase a ticket to see the other sights (if you would like to climb up the campanile or dome itself you will need to go to the ticket office), you can enter the basilica without worrying about purchasing anything. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a perfect example of Renaissance architecture. Make sure to bring your guidebook along so you can learn about Vasari's frescoes in the dome and the unique history behind the building. You can also take pictures inside, which is not always allowed in Italy's churches.


Ponte Vecchio
Photo courtesy of Lorenzo Bettoni


Florence's most famous bridge is also one of the best free activities you can find in the city. Not only is is home to some of the city's most romantic views, but it might be one of the best spots to learn about Florence's history. Make sure to watch your pockets when traversing across the bridge. This has been home to multiple different kinds of businesses throughout the ages. Once the spot for the butchers of the city to tout their cuts, it's now home to the most expensive jewelry options in the city. Whether you choose to buy something is on you, but you can still enjoy the views and the sense of history for free.


Piazzale Michelangelo
Photo courtesy of Lorenzo Bettoni


For some of the most spectacular views of the city, nothing can beat the impressive Piazzale Michelangelo. Not only is the perfect place to bring a loved one, enjoy a glass or two of wine, and listen to the music they often have playing up there, but it is also completely free. Sit on the steps and enjoy seeing the Arno lit up magically by the sunset or go up there in the afternoon when there are few tourists to really enjoy seeing Florence from a bird's eye view. It's the best way to take your time and see Florence without paying a ton of money.




While you might not want to buy anything, the Farmaceutica de Santa Maria Novella is worth visiting for its importance place in the city's history alone. It's right next to the famous Santa Maria Novella basilica, which is the perfect introduction to the local churches. Not only can you buy some great gifts, but you can also spend an afternoon hearing about how this business has serviced Florentines for hundreds of years. Whether you choose to purchase an item or not, you can see how this building has remained a part of the city's personality and how it still survives today.




For a market that feels authentic and offers some of the best produce of Tuscany, the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio has a number of charms. It's smaller than some of the other main markets, but you're more likely to find locals wandering the aisles and asking questions about the quality of the tomatoes. Everything here is also cheaply-priced, as well, so you are getting more for your money while really getting to know the city. You can also find perfect souvenirs here that are handcrafted and made with care--which makes them the perfect gift to bring back to loved ones. Regardless, you can enjoy for free by strolling through the aisles.


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Meet Alexa Schnee

Currently residing in Florence, Alex is a travel writer and author. She is addicted to coffee, reading, and seeing new places. She has been to near fifteen different countries in Europe, all...  More About Alexa

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