Looking for a romantic spring getaway or a great place to experience with friends? Snag an amazing round-trip flight deal to Italy, and visit Florence, one of the country’s most adored locales. There, you’ll see sweeping vistas, get an education on Renaissance history, and enjoy delicious food and wine that people literally write home about. Just as wonderful? Spending time in this incredible city is cheaper than you think. Skip the pricey rooftop bars and high-end shopping. There’s a ton you can see and do for under $10. In fact, there are heaps of wonderful ways to spend your time taking in the sights, sounds, and smells for free (yes, really!). Scroll on for our list of faves.
1. Get your gold fix on Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s best-known bridge, the only one to survive World War II. Today, the bridge is home to merchants who sell gold, art, and souvenirs. Looking to score an awesome snapshot of the Ponte Vecchio? Take one while standing on either of the neighboring bridges, the Ponte Santa Trinita or the Ponte alle Grazie.
2. See the sun rise from Piazzale Michelangelo. Looking for the money shot? Get your city skyline fix from Piazzale Michelangelo, a sweeping vista where you can see the Arno River, city bridges, a bell tower, and the Duomo. Plan your visit for sunrise or dusk. The sky’s pretty colors will serve as a stunning backdrop.
3. Watch artisans at work. The Santa Croce leather school, or Scuola del Cuoio, has served as a leather lab since just after World War II. It produces some of the best high-quality leather you can find in all of Florence. Though originally used by the Monastery of Santa Croce to give orphans the opportunity to learn artisan skills, you can still find craftsmen at work when you visit today. When in Santa Croce, be sure to see the neighboring Basilica di Santa Croce. It’s the principal basilica of the city and served as the burial place for many famous Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.
EAT AND DRINK
4. Taste Tuscan wine. Wine lovers, rejoice! This is the land where wine actually flows like water, and tasting local varieties (Chianti, anyone?) from street-side shops will often cost you between two and five euros per glass. Even better? Vino sfuso is wine on tap you can bottle and bring home for as little as three euros. Dreams really DO come true.
5. Eat like a local. Eating well doesn’t cost much in Florence. You can find some of the world’s best street food, including paninos, for less than 10 euros. When visiting the Uffizi Gallery or Palazzo Vecchio, look for I Due Fratellini (salsiccia crudo e melanzane is a true Tuscan delight). Ready for dessert? Gelato is said to have been born in Florence, so it’s only fair to head over to My Sugar for an authentic treat. *Insert heart eyes emoji here!* Need more foodie inspiration? Consider this list by Georgette Jupe, of popular blog Girl in Florence, your ultimate resource.
6. Explore the markets. Florence’s local markets are the perfect place to find treasures and unique souvenirs — or, at least, to people-watch and admire everything being sold. Head to the Central Market, San Lorenzo Markets, or Porcellino Market/Mercato Nuovo. The latter used to be the go-to place for wealthy Florentines to snap up silks and gold. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see a pig statue.
7. Stroll (or ride) around the city center. Florence is a walled city, which means only certain cars and buses are allowed inside the limits. It’s a bit less chaotic than Rome, and because the center is fairly quaint, it’s perfect for exploring on foot. You can also rent a bicycle by the hour within your $10 budget, which is perfect if you have little time and a lengthy to-do list!
8. Picnic outside of the Pitti Palace. Just a hop, skip, and a jump over the Arno River, the Pitti Palace is one of Florence’s neatest sites. A little history: The palace dates all the way back to 1458. It was bought by the Medici family in the 1500s, and it even served as a stronghold for Napoleon in the 18th century. Today, it’s the largest museum block in the entire city, with space out front to sit and take a breather. The gorgeous Boboli Gardens are directly in the back.
9. Admire the *amazing* public art. Art is everywhere you look in Florence, whether it’s stunning architectural details, statues, or soft watercolor paintings being sold by locals in public piazzas. Don’t miss the open-air space just outside of the Uffizi Gallery or the sculptures outside of Palazzo Vecchio. They’re breathtaking!
10. Climb the Duomo. Sneak in some cardio and head up the 460-plus steps to the top of the Duomo. Amazing views await you for just eight euros. You can also climb the bell tower, which costs slightly less and gives you a different angle of the landmark. You’ll still be able to squeeze the dome into your shot.
Going to Florence soon? Be sure to tag us on Instagram so we can see your pics!
(Featured photo via Getty)