Florence is one of the most expensive cities in Italy because it has always been a magnet for many tourists from all over the world.
Nevertheless, I assure you that having a good lifestyle on a short budget in Florence is not only possible, but that sometimes it comes naturally!
If you follow these tips, you’ll certainly reach the end of the month with a few Euros to spare in your pocket and you’ll be able to get that extra pizza you crave for.
Besides of its famous monuments and churches, Florence is also famous for its food markets. The biggest in town is the Mercato Centrale (Central market) near the church of S. Lorenzo, 5 minutes away from the Duomo. Here, you can buy all sorts of food, from meat to cheese, vegetables and fine wine at affordable prices. Another very nice market is the Sant’Ambrogio one, which also has clothes and flower stands. Beware of the fact that markets in Florence close at lunchtime (2 pm more or less) and many sellers don’t speak English.
If you are on a short budget, try to live as a Florentine would do: hang out and chill in squares with your friends by sitting on the main churches’ steps, like S. Croce and S. Spirito. These churches are surrounded by pubs and bars that have brought many people to the area. In particular, if you like the idea of dancing outdoors, on Fridays and Saturdays the S. Spirito square has a group of people who play some music and start dancing the swing all together near the main fountain. Regarding alcohol, you can buy it at supermarkets or at the small liquor shops. Liquor shops often sell alcohol at a much higher price than supermarkets, even for wine that is usually very bad and cheap. Instead, go to an enoteca, which is a typical Tuscan bar that only serves wine. Lastly, be aware of the fact that in Florence it is forbidden to buy alcohol after a certain hour and some will ask you to show your ID card (in Italy alcohol is 18+ only).
If going to a restaurant is something you can do only if your parents are paying, apericena is the right solution for you. Of Milanese provenance, the word apericena comes from the combination of two words, aperitivo and cena (dinner).This formula allows you to buy a cocktail and then eat for free at a buffet. Usually they are well stocked and you can eat all sorts of food such as pasta, rice, meat, cooked vegetables, pies and couscous. There are many bars that serve apericena, but Le Murate, Kitsch and Colle Bereto in particular are the best ones in town. The cost for an average aperitivo goes from 5 to 15 Euros with 1 drink included in the price.
If you live in the city, the best way to get around is by bicycle. You can buy a new one for 100/200 Euros, or you can buy a used one for much less. If you are interested in buying a second hand one, I’d recommend you to take a look at Ulisse, a non-profit organisation that restores old bicycles and sells some at cheap prices. Also, remember to buy a big lock, because Florence is full of thieves!
Every Wednesday night, many clubs organise special events for students throughout the city. The biggest ones are Yab and Space Electronic that cost €1 before 1 am. Another famous club in Florence is Pavoreal, which is actually a bit far from the centre, but is free for female students on Fridays till 12 am. Alternatively, there is Life, a centrally located club where you can hear some good electronic music for free. Remember to bring your student IDs to get discounted prices.
So, follow some of these tips and you’ll be sure to live a comfortable life in Florence on a student budget! Get saving!
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