6 Reasons Why Florence Always Wins : A Rather Biased View On The Greatest City in Italy.

If you talk to any student who has studied abroad or traveled extensively, they will most certainly tell you that the particular city or region where they studied or traveled is “the best”. If my experience in Florence, however, has taught me one thing, it’s that every single one of those people is wrong. Let’s cut to the chase and enjoy a true testament to why life abroad here is so wonderful and unique.

audrey

The pizza here loves you back

Go ahead and admit to yourself that your immediate and perhaps most prominent attraction to Italy revolves around pizza. I don’t blame you. Not only can pizza be eaten at almost any point of the day (you know you love breakfast pizza), it also can be eaten while enjoying a variety of other study abroad activities (sight-seeing, sunbathing, studying etc.). Fortunately, in Italy this kind of pizza-enthusiasm is not only encouraged, but shared by the locals as well. This means that 5 euro will not only get you a full-sized pizza with the finest ingredients (I’m talking fresh mozzarella and authentic spicy salami here), but you’ll also watch your pizza be hand-made with the care and love you know it deserves. And if really you’re lucky, you might even get yours made in the shape of a heart.

Gusta Pizza’s margarita pizza

Gusta Pizza’s margarita pizza

Location, location, location

We all know that one of the most important factors in studying abroad is traveling. Seeing as much as possible in a short period of time seems to be a trend for students abroad and living in Florence definitely aids in this goal. Personally, I have taken weekend and even day trips to a variety of regions and places. Within the hour, you can be by the laying by the beach, exploring a bustling city, or enjoying the rolling hills and vineyards in the Tuscan countryside. Wanting to explore other parts of Europe? Located in a more Northern region of Italy, Florence is only quick trip away from Switzerland, France, and beyond.

People will break the law to feed you

Spend the night wandering the back streets of Florence and you may be lucky enough to stumble upon an infamous “secret bakery”. It’s illegal to sell these baked goods so late at night (being made for when the shops open the next morning), but if you knock on the right window and hand over a euro or two, a baker will discreetly slide you a bag of freshly baked Nutella croissants. And it’s true- they taste even better knowing you’re breaking the law.

Nutella croissant still warm from the oven

Nutella croissant still warm from the oven

All paths lead to the Duomo

Navigating a city with eerily similar looking and deceivingly winding roads pretty much guarantees that you will find yourself lost more often than not. Until you successful learn to navigate the city, comfort can be found in the so-called “North Start” of Florence- The Duomo. Easily spotted from almost any point in the city, this massive structure can serve as a great reference point for where you are. You’ll soon learn to plan accordingly- finding stores, restaurants, and even your friends just a “left or right turn past the Duomo”.

They weren’t lying about the gelato

It’s everywhere. Around every corner. On every side street. There is no lack of abundance of places to drool over, or even enjoy, everybody’s favorite snack here in Florence. There is such an abundance, in fact, that it almost makes sense to eat it on a weekly (or daily) basis. Even better? No need to feel like a 12 year old girl when ordering your double chocolate chip cone because here in Italy, every age knows to appreciate its creamy goodness.

gelato

You might not go broke

I emphasize the “might” in this sentence, because in Florence you can very easily do things like spend 30 euro on a plate of cheese (guilty). Fortunately, with the same amount of ease, you can find some great cheap spots to wine and dine the night away. In comparison to other cities in Europe, Florence definitely isn’t the cheapest; however, you can certainly enjoy what the city has to offer without dropping 15 euro on every plate of pasta you get.

Roadside panini shops are a great lunch option, offering top-notch sandwiches for only a few euros. Pizza is a great choice too; you can get a lot of food for a little money. Not to mention the aperitivo, which is one of my favorite Italian traditions, allowing you to buy one drink and eat from the restaurant’s surprisingly wholesome buffet bar. My point? Florence on a budget is doable, and it won’t be as painful as you might think.

Audrey Vasina is a student at the University of Georgia and an official API Student Blogger. Audrey is studying abroad with API in Florence, Italy.

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