As a child, I loved my family’s vacations to Florence, Italy. Being half Italian, I felt such a connection to the city, which was beautiful, historic, artistic, and romantic. When I was a middle school student, I traveled across Europe with my family to sample the culture of many cities. Later, before my freshman year of high school, I become even more lucky, as I was blessed with a summer’s stay at an apartment with my parents and siblings on Via Dei Servi in Florence, where I studied the Italian language with the Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute. Living in Florence as a teenager granted me the perspective of how to enjoy the city without any money, as I was too poor to indulge in shopping, while I became rich with the experience of the culture of Florence.
Visit the Markets
As a teenager, I found the most elegantly designed shoes, belts, bags, and jeans outside San Lorenzo Market. Walk past the stands selling souvenirs, through Piazza dell Mercato, to get to the inside of San Lorenzo Central Market, which is only open during the morning hours of 7am-2pm Monday to Saturday. Inside, you will find stands of meat, cheese, breads, wines, and more. Window shop for free to indulge yourself in the beauty and aroma of fresh Italian ingredients.
Visit the Churches
When I traveled to Florence, I fell in love with the romantic Italian language spoken in the Italian churches. As a Catholic, I loved visiting the churches that had elegant stained glass, historic artwork, and a religion that was important to me. Some smaller churches, such as San Miniato al Monte, located at Via delle Porte Sante, 34, don’t charge admission. Sit down for mass to listen to the language and to experience the most predominant religion of the area. If the churches do charge admission, you can view the structure of the building from the outside to examine the beauty of old Italian architecture.
Window Shop in the Fashion District
Go window shopping in the fashion district to flirt with the idea of spending money, but simply soak up the Italian style without spending your Euro. Piazza della Republicca is a great place to start your walking tour of the fashion district. Located near the Parisian archways of the piazza and near Via degli Strozzi, Piazza della Republicca often has street artists performing impromptu for your amusement.
Examine the Duomo
Living at Via Dei Servi, I greatly enjoyed every day that I passed the beautiful Il Duomo di Firenze of the Florence Cathedral. Visiting the inside of the Duomo costs money, but I never spent the money to see the inside. Daily, I enjoyed the monumental presence of the beautiful Duomo towering over the streets. Sit outside for a bit and soak in the gorgeous architecture.
View Sculptures for Free
Italy has some of the most beautiful sculptures, often inspired by the classicism of Greek sculptures. Located in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Piazza della Signoria is in the middle of the historic center of Florence. At Piazza della Signoria, you can view an open-air exhibit of sculptures. Visiting the square is an entirely free activity, where you can examine several statues in an area significant to Florentine history.