50 charming things about Florence...

  1. Here, we drink wine out of short water glasses. The flare of a wine glass is unnecessary unless you’re in a restaurant or café.
  2. Even if it is pouring rain the city is alive. After a long drought, rainy nights are welcomed and embraced
  3. The African men selling dollar-store-goods have learned the most important phrase in English, which is surprisingly from Borat, “very nice!”
  4. Piazza Santa Croce is, in my opinion, the best square in Florence. Home to the best markets and festivals.
  5. I thought mosquitoes in the States were terrible. I have been proven wrong. Even in the winter these annoying pests buzz by your ear at night, teasing and preventing you from any deep sleep.
  6. The plugs go against gravity here. Italians have them high up on walls or underside cabinets – better hope your cords and adapters are not too heavy.
  7. Cheese is cheap here. Coming from the States, this is a gift from the gods. I can now have all the caprese salad I want!
  8. Continuing with this theme, the vegetables and fruits are even cheaper! I can get 6 vine ripened tomatoes for €1.30. A big bag of grapes – and we all know I love my grapes – is one euro. Life is good.
  9. Another thing the Italians have done right is perfecting the Aperitivo. Cafes throughout Florence offer their special kind of happy hour. At an aperitivo, for 7-10€ you get a drink and buffet of delicious Tuscan cuisine.
  10. That being said, it is important to know where the best Aperitivo’s are. Some café’s only put out bar snacks or panini’s . Kitsch, Maestri di Fabrica, and Chiaroscuro have the best spread in town.
  11. Florence appears to be the mecca for Asian tour groups. There are thousands of Asian tours bustling through the streets.  Their biggest fear is that an Italian will steal from them so they wear their backpacks in the front and clutch their Nikon cameras for dear life.
  12. Drivers have no mercy in Florence; whether they are operating a bus, car, vespa, or bicycle, you better get out of their way.
  13. Also, the women on motorbikes are the epitome of sexy chic. High heels, leather jacket – they look like they are straight out of a Dolce & Gabbana ad.
  14. If you stay up late enough after a night out, you will be able to smell the bakers at work. The heavenly smell of bread and pastries baking wafts through the streets signaling morning – or time to go home to bed.
  15. Italians are professionals at the Siesta. The local, non-touristy areas of Florence will shut down for a few hours after lunch and re-open at seven well-rested.
  16. Keep tracks of the events and special offers at The Academmia. In September admission was free Thursday nights.
  17. Therefore, visit the Academmia and view the most beautiful man: David. Michelangelo knew how to sculpt one handsome man, even if this hands and head are not proportionate.
  18. The ‘Friends of the Uffizi’ card is based on the calendar year and allows free admission to most museums. It pays itself off after 3 visits to a museum or attraction.
  19. Best café: Quelo. Borgo Santa Croce 15. Charming, fairly priced and owned by some awesome women.
  20. Best gelato: Vivoli. Via Isola della Stinche 7. Richest flavors and only 2€.
  21. Best pizza: Gusta Pizza. Via Maggio 46. Run by a dynamic group of brothers, they put on a show and complete the whole experience. Best tasting pizza and atmosphere.
  22. Best restaurant: Baldovino. Via San Giuseppe 22. Delicious food, authentic décor, and great service.
  23. Best bars: Rex, Backstage, Volume. Less tourists, more locals.
  24. There are plenty of beautiful churches in Florence. You are charged 10€ to visit the ‘more famous’ ones. Save your money and just go to open mass at the churches. You will listen to the sermon in beautiful Italian and get a free viewing of the ornate church interiors.
  25. Italians love little dogs – and they love their dogs dirty. There is no such thing as pet grooming.
  26. Florence is a top-five destination for Americans studying abroad. The streets are plagued with drunken Americans ignorantly complaining that people here do not speak English. You learn to tune them out as you do the beggars.
  27. Italians style of dress can be considered ‘vestiti cipolli’. Layered like an onion! They love their layers, scarves, and tight jeans.
  28. Also, ‘I wear my sunglasses at night’ can be the theme song for many Italian men here.
  29. The best run is my ‘Arno Loop.’ Run from Ponto San Niccolo to Ponte A Vespucci. Loop around to the other side of the Arno River and climb Piazza Michelangelo for a good set of stairs. Run at sunrise to avoid the crowds of people and see the sun come up over the valley.
  30. There are no mailboxes here. I am not sure where the post goes – I may need to follow a mail carrier one day to figure it out.
  31. Also, the Italian post may be better referred to as snail mail. Do not expect mail and packages to arrive on time. Even to mail a letter you have to get a ticket at the Post Office and wait for a couple hours.
  32. The Questura (Police Station) is equal to the American DMV. Long wait, crying babies, miserable people.  Avoid if possible.
  33. Breakfast is quick in Italy. You stand at the bar in a café and take a shot of espresso and grab a brioche to go. Unfortunately, Italians have not embraced the beauty of a lazy brunch. Maybe one day.
  34. Most apartments and houses have shutters here; however, you will also notice that they have painted on shutters to sides of the houses in order to make them completely symmetric.
  35. The ‘Medici Balls’ are everywhere. The family’s crest and symbol is on every street corner and main building. They truly ran this town.
  36. Church bells are constantly ringing throughout the day. Especially at the end of the daily siesta, the bells ring loud and clear to wake up the sleeping Florentines.
  37. Soccer in Italy is called calico. Florence’s team is called Fiorentina and locals are obsessed with them. Tickets are expensive but Florence for Fun offers great deals and discounts.
  38. Top 3 places for the best views of Florence: From Boboli Gardens, Piazza Michelangelo and Fiesole.
  39. The Odeon and Fulgor cinemas play movies in English with Italian subtitles if you need a fix of home.
  40. Valentina shoe store has the best hand-made and buttery soft leather boots and shoes. The prices are reasonable and salesmen are extremely knowledgeable.
  41. Enoteca Macci does a “breakfast Aperitivo” with a great selection of fruit, yogurt, and pastries to go with your cappuccino.
  42. Nothing beats a good old Irish or English Pub. Finnegan’s, Friends Bar, Lion’s Fountain (for a crazy night), and Joshua Tree are your go-to places.
  43. There is no open-container law here – or in Europe really for that matter. Sometimes sharing a bottle of wine or a few beers with friends in a piazza is the perfect way to spend an evening.
  44. The market at Sant'Ambrogio is the best farmer’s market.  Unbelievably fresh fruits, vegetables, and homemade goods for cheap prices.
  45. You will quickly realize the divide between American student/Tourist bars and restaurants to the local ones. Choose wisely.
  46. Train station Santa Maria Novella is a primary hub for transportation in Italy. You can get to Milan in two hours and Rome in one. Be sure to validate your ticket before you board or you can be charged a €50 fine.
  47. Dinner is served later in Europe than in America. In Florence, dinner time is somewhere between 8 and 10pm. It may be a late evening, but Italians do it right with several bottles of wine and slow, lazy courses.
  48. Bands sometime play on the Ponte Vecchio. Sit on the opening in the middle of the bridge to listen to some great music and people watch.
  49. Quick tip: If you have Bank of America, BNL banks in Italy do not charge you an ATM fee.
  50. Do not order a cappuccino after lunch – it is a clear signal that you are not Italian. Cappuccinos are only for the morning, espressos and macchiatos for the afternoon through evening.


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