Florence (Firenze), Italy
What to See
La Basilica di San Miniato al Monte
Piazza Michelangelo offers a great view of the entire city but if you wander a little further up the road you will find an even better view at La Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The church is at the top of the hill and looks down on Piazza Michelangelo, which looks down on Florence. It's kind of an eerie church, small and dark but it's worth a visit. It's extremely quiet and peaceful, a nice place to look out on Florence without as many people around.
What to Eat
Stay away from the train station, the Duomo and all immediate surrounding areas if you want good gelato. It's all overpriced and lacking in quality. Walk more towards Santa Croce for better prices and flavors and stick to side streets. You shouldn't ever pay more than a euro for a small cone. On Via de' Benci directly across from the Red Garter is the Godfather of gelato. 1 euro, best flavors and he's been known to give out free cones to repeat customers. You should also mix and match flavors. It's closed between November and February, though. Also, general gelato tip: if the gelato is lumped above the container it's in (as in you can't put a lid on it) don't eat it. It's probably leftovers from the day before they threw on top.
Where to Party
Drinking / Bars / Happy Hours
Before going out in Florence, or even in lieu of going out in Florence, buy a few cheap bottles of wine (before 10 when stores stop selling), grab a few friends and drink on the steps of Santa Croce. The church looks over the long piazza and is a hub of activity. It's a great place to go where locals and visiting students alike meet up to drink and hang out. And, yes, it is legal to drink on the steps of a 700 year old church that is the final resting place of some of the world's most influential thinkers.
Where to Shop
Clothing & Accessories
Florence has so many wonderful shops and museums to explore! I wish that when I had visited I had brought more spending money. Between the fine leather purses, hand embroidered linen, and Tuscan wine, this is a city worth splurging a little! Designers brands like Gucci, Prada, Armani, and Chanel, jewelry items and trinkets in the Ponte Vecchio area are the things that most people buy in Florence Italy.
There are couple of things you can do to save money. You can haggle prices down in tourist centers like the San Lorenzo Market and the privately owned shops in the Ponte Vecchio, or you can take part in one of the many available outlet shopping tours in Florence.
With these shopping tours, you can get great savings on labels such as Gucci and Prada of up to 50 percent off the label price.
Farther away from the buzz of the center is the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio. It's much smaller in size than San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale but there are more locals and less people trying to capitalize on your traveler status. Inside the market building itself you can get the best lasagna for 3 euro, outside fresh Gorgonzola straight from the wheel and really good prices on clothes if you haggle. The clothes aren't as nice as those in San Lorenzo but the people watching is prime and the food delicious and cheap.