• The running rate for pastries is €1. Just keep a few euros but no large bills.
• Keep your (drunken) mouth shut. If you’re loud and disruptive, not only will the bakers not serve you, they’ll shut their doors/windows to everyone else.
• Do not question what you are given. Once you hand your money over, you eat whatever they give you.
What sets Florence apart from other cities in Italy are its secret bakeries! Every night as the city goes to sleep, the secret (and illegal) bakeries get down to business, ready to quietly serve customers from behind closed doors solely at night. Only if you’re well behaved, though. Seriously – you’re not allowed to talk. Bakers aren’t allowed to sell their pastries directly to the public so the exchange is pretty quick. They can be hard to find—usually hidden down tiny side streets and alleyways—but you can always follow them by smell.
• Pasticceria Vinci & Bongini (Santa Croce): cornetto con Nutella
• Laboratoria di Pasticceria Arrighi (corner of Via dell Ruote and Via San Gallo): mini pizza or nutella croissant
• Il Re della Foresta (Piazza Giorgini): best bombolone in Florence
• The (Truly Secret) Family Bakery (Santa Croce): cimbella or cornetto
Once you find one, you knock on a window, wait for someone to pop their head out, hand them a euro, and get what you’re given. You don’t get to pick and choose anything – you just get whatever they just finished baking. It is oh-so-sinfully delicious. The best time to grab them is probably around 1:30-1:45 AM before the crowds and when the croissants and donuts are at their peak freshness.
Uffizi Gallery Entrance Fee: €16,50
You can book tickets in advance on the official site here
Aside from the baked adventure, my sister and I went to the Uffizi Gallery to see the Italian Masterpieces: Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Piero di Cosimo. Tickets again were purchased in advance to avoid long queues. We got to see Botticelli’s world-famous “Birth of Venus” and photos honestly do not do it any justice. The museum is pretty large so we spent roughly 3 hours there walking around and seeing all the famous artworks. There’s also a nice cafe with an open terrace inside the Gallery as well in case you miss breakfast like we did!
After the Gallery, we ate another famous market in Florence: Market of San Lorenzo. We ate Broccoli Spaghetti (spaghetti with broccoli sauce instead of tomato) and various crostinis! And of course, you can’t finish a meal without some more gelato. The other gelateria that I found to be the other favorite is: Gelateria la Carraia. A lot of my friends who have visited or lived in Florence found this little gem to be their most favorite so of course, I had to check it out. I ordered the caffe, the crema, and the nocciola (hazelnut) and since it was by the water, we were able to enjoy our last dessert in Florence with a great view.
I also managed to mail my final batch of postcards in Florence. I sent my first batch at the Vatican via Swiss Post but in Florence, I went directly to the post office to mail them due to the complicated postal system in Italy. Aside from the post office, there are two other private postal services in Italy, which are marked by the yellow and black mailboxes. Whenever you purchase postcards at a store and ask them if you could buy stamps, be careful because you will need to put those postcards in a very specific mailbox. I just played it safe and went to the main post office instead.
Stamps should only be bought in the post office! There are 3 postal services in Italy and 2 are unreliable! Put mail in the red postbox only!
Before we left Florence to go to the Amalfi Coast, we also bought two leather jackets from the Florence Leather Market for less than €400 total! You’re allowed to haggle but I just feigned disinterest until the vendor brought it down to a price that I was willing to pay. To be honest, if they decide to sell the jacket between €150-200, you shouldn’t try to be too greedy and continue to haggle because then you start to de-value their work. These leather goods are hand-stitched and hand-dyed. Some vendors even take you directly to their store for more options and can alter/tailor to your liking. I have added extra notes and tips at the end for other stores that are worth checking out!
OTHER FOOD RECOMMENDATIONS
- Panini Toscani
- Trattoria La Casalinga: Order Crostini mixti and pasta
- Procacci: Truffle cafe
- Scuola del Cuoio: School of Leather
Address: Via San Giuseppe 5R; Piazza di Santa Croce, 16, 50122 Firenze
- Massimo Leather: Cream of the crop
Address: Borgo la Noce, 13/15r, Firenze
- Pierotucci: Leather Factory
Address: Via Lungo L’Ema, 17, Bagno a Ripoli, Firenze
- Michelangelo Florentine Leather
- The Mall: A luxury outlet 30 minutes outside of Florence that is known for discounted prices on high end goods
Bus Roundtrip Ticket: €13