Pursuing a lighter morning in Florence after the night we had in Cinque Terre, my friends and I dropped our plan to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s David statue, and instead opted for some much needed sleep. We spent our morning walking from our hotel, across the famous Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, to the Boboli Gardens on the other side of the Arno.
Giardino di Boboli
The sun, confirming our pressed-for-time decision to visit the gardens instead of the museum, shone over the sprawling estate of the Giardino di Boboli. For 10€, tickets included entrance to the gardens, a small porcelain museum, and a costume gallery. The manicured plants with accompanying statues and fountains made for a pleasant stroll, but the highlight of the gardens was the view from the terrace at the rear of the property. The most elevated point of the complex yielded perspectives of both the city of Florence and the Tuscan countryside.
Though my friends and I planned for the gardens, we spent more time than expected in the Pitti Palace costume gallery. This low-profile feature celebrated Italian women in fashion and design. I was interested in learning about a few lesser known women in fashion history, and could not pull myself away from the outfits and accessories on display.
Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella
My travel research on the city of Florence led me to the discovery of a less popular tourist attraction: the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella. Established in 1612, the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy is one of the oldest operating pharmacies in the world. It offers an authentic, back-in-time experience with both corresponding and contrasting products. One can purchase anything from (almost) original formula stress-relieving mints to up-to-date night creams. With a price range from 5€ to too much, anyone can bring home a piece of 17th century Florence.
Continuing on with our under-the-radar destinations, my friends and I visited the Gucci Museum for a story of true Florentine fashion. The Friday night reduced rate of 5€ granted us access to all four floors of the museum, displaying chronologically the story of Guccio Gucci. From luggage, to cars, to handbags, to gowns, visitors learned of the evolution of the Gucci brand and its relationship and impact on the creative world today. One of my favorite parts of the museum was the Film Foundation feature. Because of Gucci’s partnership with the Film Foundation, working specifically on film restoration, a room of the museum was dedicated to a generous loop of restored film clips. A similar experience to that of the costume museum in the Boboli Gardens, it was a pleasant surprise to be interested in an aspect other than what I had anticipated.
Students studying in Florence recommended Trattoria ZàZà for dinner, an affordable restaurant with an absurdly long menu. As soon as we sat down, I could tell it was an establishment designed for abroad students: the menu was available via QR code in over five languages, the cheesy decor and dim lighting made it feel like an oversized bar, and there was not a diner over the age of 30. To share, my friends and I ordered truffle fries, off of their specific Truffle Menu, which were tasty but were in need of more truffle, and baked peppers in special ZàZà sauce, which were bland. I got a calzone that appeared huge but was really just full of air, and tasted not at all like I was in Italy. ZàZà is great for a large, specifically international group looking to eat cheap, but the rest of us can do much better.
- Ponte Vecchio
- Boboli Gardens
- Piazza Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze, Italy
- Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella
- Via della Scala, 16, 50123 Firenze, Italy
- Gucci Museo
- Piazza della Signoria, 10, 50122 Firenze, Italy
- Trattoria ZàZà
- Piazza Mercato Centrale, 26r, 50123 Firenze, Italy
Pace, Amore, Firenze