Currently working and studying in Florence, Italy, graphic designer and photographer, Rachel Graham (www.rbgarts.com) from New York, New York tells us how to be frugal in Firenze.
In a historic city such as Florence, you’d be surprised at how many mediocre meals you can eat if you’re not in the know. As an artist and student in this city, it’s always nice to save a buck (or with the current euro/dollar exchange, €0.60) on a nice meal. So, want to paint Firenze red like a true Fiorentini? Below are my suggestions for an unforgettable stay.
Ahh, day one. You wake up refreshed and ready to explore. Grab a pane cioccolata (chocolate croissant) and un cappuccino from a nearby pasticceria (pastry shop) and head to the Mercato Centrale. This incredible market is where locals and visitors alike buy the freshest ingredients. A building that covers an entire block houses booths run by local farms and wineries. Many of the shops also ship their products internationally, so it’s a nice place to buy gifts or to stock up for your own kitchen!
After the market, it’s lunchtime. Trattoria Mario has been open since 1957 and is the place to go for a truly authentic Tuscan experience. Only open for lunch, their specialty is the Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak). The pasta dishes range from 6 to 10 euro and the steak is about 35 euro a kilo (to share only! It is really big). The minimal décor and communal seating arrangement give this place a very homey feel. You’ll want to go back on Day 2, but I’ll give you another option, I promise.
For dinner, I suggest an amazing Zagat rated place called Acqua al 2. Be sure to make a reservation because it fills up quickly. They have a chef sampler platter that is a nice taste of all the best dishes, and also a Nobile di Montepulciano red that is amazing, and only 20 euro. Give yourself a little time to find this restaurant gem though, because unless you have an iPhone with GPS it can be a little tricky, but totally worth it.
For an after dinner drink, head down to the Santa Croce area and take your pick. There is a lounge called Moyo that makes great cocktails. Or if you’re in the mood for a perfect Guinness head over to the lively Lion’s Fountain or The Old Stove, which is a little more laid back and has a great terrace.
Check back tomorrow for day 2!