Florence is a artists paradise, but also an overcrowded nightmare. Maybe it is because it is September or because the heat is getting to me, but my first experience with Florence was much different than I expected.
Not that I was disappointed with Florence, but it certainly was different than I imagined. Picture an Italian version of New York City.
There are some mistakes I learned from after my first visit. Here is what to avoid in the city to have the best experience.
Feeding The Pidgins
Please do not be this person!
No one wants a flock of sky rats near their food. I had a girl do it next to me, and everyone around her was flustered. It wasn’t until a lady yelled at her stop that the pidgins left me. The whole event was an unnecessary annoyance that can easily be avoided. Even if you think pigeons are cute, be respectful that most of the people around you will not.
Only Shopping In Touristy Places
Florence is a huge hot spot people travel to, so there are lots of junky tourist shops that are extremely overpriced. If there is a multiple of the store, be cautious of what you are buying.
Even if you really wanted that magnet you could probably find it somewhere else for cheaper.
Buying Anything Near The Duomo
Except for maybe gelato, everything around the Duomo is a heck of a lot more expensive. If you don’t know what the Duomo is, it is the ginormous church in the heart of Florence.
Walking around the Duomo I bought some beautiful paper for twelve euros each for my book arts class. Only later I find out paper usually costs around three euro. The particular store we entered has handcrafted paper with a jacked up price. Although I am really happy with how my paper looks, I also know I could have bought it at another shop and saved my bank account from crying.
Eating Fancy “Stacked Up” Gelato
The reason why this gelato can look so delicious is actually that it is older. Surprisingly, fancy looking gelato actually tastes the worst for this reason. Don’t be fooled by its appearance. Counterintuitively, the gelato shops without ornate displays have the best tasting gelato in the city.
Sitting & Eating On The Ground
I bit down on my sand which only to be told by a police officer that I could not sit in the area and eat. My tired feet had to quickly find a new spot to chow down. I suggest finding a restaurant to eat anyway. Italians are more about sitting and eating anyway. Enjoy it while you are here. Again most of the streets are fairly dirty too so I would stray away from popping a squat on.
Going To Stores You Have Back Home
Maybe you don’t have an H&M or Victoria Secret where you live, but I do. Which is why I felt no need to shop around them in Italy. However, a couple people in my group did, so I trailed along with them. Only to discover that the stores are basically exactly the same as they are back home as I suspected. Unless you are staying in Florence for the long term I suggest avoiding these shops altogether.
Traffic is completely different in places like Florence than what I am used to. Cars, people, and bicycles share the road. Usually, the people driving cars and riding bikes are not paying attention to any of the pedestrians. I was walking in a crowd of people and unknowingly a bicyclist swerved right in front of me. In a matter of seconds I was able to jump out of the way, but if I had not been paying close attention I surely would have been run over by the bike.
If you just stayed in certain areas I feel like you would miss out on the really lovely aspects of Florence. I am a fan of large cities, but I want to find the sweet spots that make the place really special.