Top 10 Tips: A Modern Woman’s Guide to Florence, Italy

by Stephanie Cisneros

No one doubts that there is plenty to do in Florence, but for Women there are some particularly wonderful things to do and indulge in during any study abroad program in Florence. Check out this list of tips for any modern woman in Florence.

Ponte Santa Trinita

Ponte Santa Trinita

1. Eat, drink, sleep, repeat. Every. Single. Day. 

It is absolutely essential to seriously savor every last morsel, crumb, drop, and sip of the food and drink you consume in Florence. Indulge! Don’t be shy if you spill a decadent glass of Chianti all over your blouse; instead, wear your fresh wine stained, gelato glob, and carabonara smudge with dignity and pride. Why, you might ask? Because you just had one of the best meals of your life, it’s time to show it off!

2. Kiss an Italian.

C’mon, I know you all want too! And to all of you with dirty, filthy minds, extricate your wits from the gutter momentarily, and listen up: it is not at all advisable to lay a sloppy one on the first Italian you meet while de-boarding your plane (unless you want too, after all, it is your life). It is custom to kiss new Florentine acquaintances on the cheek twice, or good friends three times. If your mind went straight to the sloppy kiss, though, then by all means... After all, Florence’s neighbor to the south, Rome, is the city of sex.

3. If you want to become the best smelling person in the world...

...and you have an extra €3.600 to spend, go get yourself a custom perfume set from Lorenzo Villoresi’s workshop. If you are on a serious budget and want to come back from your trip with a positive bank statement and something special from Florence, grab one of Lorenzo’s numerous Eau de Toilettes for €150 or less.  Plus you won't regret visiting his hidden Garden of Eden studio because it has one of the best views of old Florence looking north across the Arno River.

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

4. Experience a true Italian barbeque.

Florentines would never use our gas grills or countertop grill masters; instead these true Florentine chefs use their specially installed outdoor grills (aka food temples), which are only to be heated by very specific types of wood.  This style of barbequing should be praised because within these food temples meat, cheese, bread, and fresh vegetables turn into magic on your plate (keep in mind this magic will only last for a few minutes because before you know it, your plate will be empty and find yourself asking, “How did that happen?”).  Maybe your cute Italian friend who you kissed from following the #2 tip can invite you to grill at their place. ;)

5. An Aperol Spritz a day keeps the doctor away.

This drink is heaven in a wine glass. This simple elixir, or cocktail, is made up of Aperol, Prosecco, and an orange slice. Let me forewarn you, you will be entering citrus heaven.

6. You MUST go to Gusta Pizza and order the Calabrese.

If you do not go to Gusta Pizza, or you end up going and not enjoying it, you need to get your head examined. If you don’t know what that means, a quick Google search will certainly get your mouth watering.  Have no fear vegetarians – their Margarita pizza will equally blow your mind. This is the best pizza in all of Italy and possibly the world. To top it off, there are very handsome looking brothers who run this pizzeria and their neighboring Gusta Panino and Gusta Osteria. You simply can’t go wrong with these fine Florentine gentlemen to look at while you scarf down an entire mouthwatering pizza in under five minutes.

7. Visiting the San Lorenzo Market can be completely overwhelming.

Put an end to the madness while looking for your new best friends: a new leather bag, leather jacket, leather gloves, and pashmina or cashmere scarf. Always remember you have the power to make your own price, and the easiest way to do this is to pit the neighboring stands against each other.  Nothing like a little Italian competition.  (If you are unfamiliar with how Italians fight, make sure to watch a rerun of a Florence and Rome futbol match.) The best way to get the price down is to continue going back and forth between both stands while making sure each stand owner can hear you discussing the price. I guarantee this works like a charm, and you will once again leave with a happy wallet.

Florence cityscape

Florence cityscape

8. Stop taking those ugly double decker buses!

GET off your tush and rent a bike. If you are planning to stay for while in Florence, renting a bike for your whole trip will be worth your while. Florence recently stopped traffic flow through the most historic areas of the city. What better way to get around? Plus, think about how adorable and cute you’ll look when you add a basket to the front! This is a great alternative to weaving in and out of large tourists groups because you will have a sweet-sounding bell or attention grabbing fog horn to alert people to get out of the way while you politely say, “Permesso!” or “Mi scusi!”

9. Allow yourself to become absolutely obsessed with older Italian men and women.

Each and every one of them will melt your hearts with their snappy attire, bike-riding statures, and loud fighting in the streets, or as they would say, simple daily conversations.  They are living proof that chivalry has not yet died in Italy.  Give them a smile or a simple “grazie,” and they will do their best to help any woman in need.

10. Sit down.  Put your camera, cellphone, tablet, laptop, iPod, or miscellaneous favored electronic do-dad away!

Look up at the living museum that you are sitting in. Stop and do this all over the city. Watch the people as they walk by: locals, tourists, gypsies, and people who are just plain lost. If you make eye contact, say, “Ciao”, or “Buongiorno,” or “Buona Sera,” because why not?  This is simply your time to absorb the fact that you made it here and you won’t ever forget the amazing experience you had studying abroad in Florence, Italy.