Florence, Italy: Why Tourists Like Me Love This City
It was my brother Raffy’s first time to visit Europe, so we made a deal to extend our Euro family vacation in Florence. Like any bargain hunter, we opted to try good old AirBnB for our accommodations. After reading through pages and pages of apartment options, we picked a spacious loft right smack in the middle of Firenze’s tourist area. Just outside our place was Il Porcellino (Italian for “boar”). Found near the entrance of Mercato Nuovo, tourists rub the boar’s snout for a return trip to Florence, just like throwing a coin in Rome’s Trevi Fountain. My wife and I snubbed the boar and went straight for the leather bags sold in the market.
Embrace the Urge to Shop
Shopping in Florence can’t be avoided. The shoe stores are as tempting as the gelato joints. I think I bought 5 pairs. I know! It’s a sin! But I couldn’t resist! The San Lorenzo leather market should be your first stop for bargain finds. The smell of leather is addicting. I was sniffing leather left and right! Haha!
I got a nice jacket, a mid-sized backpack, gloves, and 2 belts. All leather! I’m telling you guys, someday, I’ll have my own leather store. Someday!
Bargaining for a lower price is expected. Good thing most of the vendors were friendly. A number of stalls sell scarves too. We met this Filipino merchant who grew up in Australia who was so good at selling his scarves. No hard sell or fancy sales talk. He’ll just fix the scarves for you and show it to you in front of the mirror. Voila! Sold!
Don’t Forget Your Tax Refund
In case you did some shopping in the chain stores, don’t forget to apply for tax refund. There are a number of Global Blue Tax Refund counters in the city, so you don’t have to claim the tax refund at the airport. You just have to show up at the Customs area and go through the time-consuming step of having your receipts stamped.
Cross the Bridge When You Get There
The best decision we made was to cross the bridge. So many more restaurants, cafes, gelaterias and quaint shops to see. It’s not as crowded and there are less tourists too.We chanced upon 5 e Cinque, a comfy restaurant that looked like it was run by a family. Their coffee was so good I had to have a second cup. Needless to say, my wife and I just watched (and judged) the people that walked by. After finishing our coffee, I found out it specialized in vegetarian dishes. We would have avoided the place like the plague had we known 🙂
Then it was time to have our daily dose of gelato. La Strega Nocciola looked so cute and classy, we couldn’t resist. We were all smiles after.
When traveling, we do some research online – to check for places to see and restaurants to try. But most of the time, we just walk all day until we get hungry. These guys selling pizza and sandwiches caught our attention because of the line outside their place. After trying their porchetta, we knew exactly why the people were patiently waiting their turn. It was so good I forgot to check out the name of the place. Good thing I was able to match my photo on Trip Advisor and it led me to Amici di Ponte Vecchio Da Stefano. We didn’t even know we ate at one of the most recommended restaurants in Florence.
After this trip, I promised my wife that we will return. Italy’s economy will most definitely appreciate our hard-earned money spent on pizza, gelato and shoes, lots of shoes.