What are the best places to shop in Florence? Want to know local shopping tips? What to pack and how to eat like a local? How to save your bike from thieves and more is covered in this second part of the interview with my dear friend, Anastasia.
See Part 1 for insightful local tips and places to see in Florence here.
Best time to visit Florence?
Best time for a visit is May and September. You get to meet local people, enjoy shorter lineups to see museums and other Florence’s hallmarks, eat good Tuscan food in local trattorias, and still catch warm Italian sun.
If your vacation schedule allows, I would not recommend visiting Florence in July-August. It is the time where most of the tourist from all over the world come to visit, so you have to “suffer” from all the consequences: increased prices, crowds of tourist with selfie sticks and cameras, packed restaurants, and scorching temperatures.
August is the month when all Italians go on vacation. So a lot of local cafes and cute boutiques get closed. You are left with commercial and touristic places, which will never give you a truly full picture of what Florence is!
Would you recommend to wear anything specific?
Flats- Flats-Flats! They will be your best friends. If you want to look like an actual Italian, then “Tods” and “Hogan” should be your choice- those two brands are Italian pride and favorites across different generations.
As for the heels, my suggestion will be a big no. Remember, you will be walking on cobble streets – sprained ankles, broken heels and destroyed favorite shoes are all the things that you can expect.
One has to be very skilled to be able to walk in heels with ease or take taxis.
Are you going to Italy? Check these tips before you go and have a safe journey!
What to wear in Florence during summer?
Natural materials during summer like cotton, silk, and linen are a good idea. Local stores are best when it comes to travel purchases like that.
They do not have any known brand names, but the quality is there. If you want to fit in with the locals, then go with minimalistic and elegant clothing.
Florentines are quite minimalistic in a way they dress- remember it’s the quality that matters.
What to wear in Florence during winter?
Wool or thick sweater and a good coat are your go to pieces. Even though it is “warm” outside, inside it can be quite chilly.
Buildings in Florence are old. They have thick walls and high ceilings. It takes a long time to warm up the rooms, not to mention that heating in Italy is quite pricey.
Italians will keep the heat a little bit down for saving purposes. That said, a warm sweater becomes very handy.
Where to shop in Florence?
Florence has a lot of shops, the best thing to do is to “get lost” and explore little streets- you will see a lot of small boutiques and shops.
If you want to buy luxury brands, then you must visit Via de Tornabuoni, the street that leads you to Ponte Santa Trinita. There you will see the shops of all famous luxury brands: Zegna, Gucci, Ferragamo, Christian Dior, Versace, Hermes and many others.
If you are looking to get a deal for those brands, then you need to visit an outlet mall, called The Mall. You can take a shuttle bus that goes from the train/bus station to the mall, and brings you back to the city.
What to bring with you when exploring Florence?
A bottle of water never hurts. A phone with a GPS because it is easy to get lost in there.
Load the map on the phone before exiting if you do not have a data plan.
Wear a hat during summer.
Until the month of April, you have to wear a trench coat if you want to be like Italians.
What to avoid while sightseeing Florence and its places?
Avoid eating at the tourist spots- e.g., next to Duomo, Piazza Della Signoria.
Avoid exchanging money at the exchange booths as you will be charged an additional fee which is very high. The safest one is to use the credit card or an ATM.
Take your bicycle up into your apartment. Or ask locals where to park them. Try to avoid parking your bicycle overnight in the parking spots in the central part of the city –you might not find some parts of your bike in the morning.
Always bargain and negotiate when making a purchase at a market.
While at the restaurant, the waiter might bring you an aperitive (usually it is prosciutto, cheese, olives). If you did not order it, most likely you will be charged for it at the end of your meal. So if you do not have a budget for it, ask the waiter if you are being charged for it- if so, you can politely refuse.
Italians never drink cappuccino in the afternoon or evening, so if you want to be an “Italian” drink it only in the morning. For the rest of the day stick to espresso, which is outstanding!
And remember, Italians never sit down to drink their coffees, they drink it at the bar and leave. If you do decide to sit down and drink only coffee, you may be charged an additional fee, in some touristic places this price can go up to 10 Euros
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