Dream of Italy: Florence on a Budget
By Parm Johal
Thinking of Italy, but don’t want to break the bank?
Here are some tips to see the Tuscan capital on a budget.
Florence is the Italian centre of art, architecture and culture, the birthplace of the Renaissance movement and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You can visit Florence on a budget without sacrificing the authentic Italian experience.
Experience It Yourself
Before leaving on our trip, my husband and I were hesitant on travelling anywhere in Italy as we heard from many people how expensive it is for bottled water, taxis, food and hotels. Before heading out on any trip, I find it helpful to hear other people’s experiences, but this can also backfire. Although, I haven’t gone to Rome or other southern Italian hot spots, I’m glad we took the chance with Florence. We let go of our pre-conceived judgements and were pleasantly surprised.
Travel is a subjective experience. Pocket what you hear, read or see on tv as a source of inspiration and knowledge, but follow your own instinct as your experience will be different than mine.
How to Save Some Money in Florence:
1. Travel Independently When Possible
There are many ways to travel and for newbie globetrotters, hopping on a large, pre-packaged bus tour lets you test the water and leaves the stress of details and transportation to the tour coordinators. However, in my experience this is when costs can add up as these type of tours typically take you to the busy, expensive tourist hubs and shops where water can cost up to 3-4 Euros a bottle. I prefer to travel independently or take small tours to find that the little hidden shop with the best value.
2. Book Shoulder Season or Off-Season
Europe in the summer months is filled with tourists. I’ve been to Europe multiple times and I have yet to visit during June, July or August. Go between March – May or September-October for good prices and decent weather. If you don’t mind colder weather and want to spend the holiday season abroad, why not go to Florence in December? Check out magical holiday displays and Christmas markets and even catch the 15th Annual River to River Indian Film Festival between December 5-10 this year.
3. Explore Florence By Foot
Florence is known as a walkable city. Pass on the taxis and stroll over with ease to the main attractions such as the Il Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Having been to some other cities in Europe (such as Barcelona), Florence is not as overwhelming in size and by far the most walkable city I’ve been.
4. Main Square Traps
Although staying in the “city centre” is enticing, pick a hotel near the train station which is literally only a few minutes walk to the main attractions and you’ll pay far less than staying in the city centre. The closer you are to the Il Duomo, the more expensive accommodation, food, water, gelato and everything becomes. I paid 2 euros for gelato near my hotel and in the city centre it went up close to 5-6 euros.
5. Local Supermarket
Around the corner from our hotel was a small, local supermarket where we stocked up on water and snacks. I would never have guessed that a 1 Litre bottle of water would only cost me 0.20-0.30 Euro Cents in Italy….way cheaper than buying it at home in Canada and definetely on par with Spain. Try the meats, cheeses and wine at the local markets – all local and fairly priced.
6. Breakfast Included Please!
Many hotels provide either continental or full breakfasts with your room. Take advantage so you don’t have to spend time endlessly searching for a breakfast spot first thing in the morning…and in the process, paying more when you’re starving!
Average Prices in Florence We Noticed:
*On the outskirts of the main square:
0.20 to 0.30 euro cents for water.
3-5 euros for some wines at the supermarket. Prices varied.
Fairly priced cheese and meat at the supermarket.
2-3 euros for sandwiches and gelato.
2 euros for cappuccino.
By applying some of these tips you can enjoy your trip and live la dolce vita.
For more tips, destination guides and travel stories visit www.desiglobetrotter.com.
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