Florence Journals

Living in Florence

A travel journal to Florence by Stella

Quote: If you've ever wondered what it might be like to live in Italy, here are some thoughts and tips to make the transition easier.

Living in Florence

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Quote:
The highlights of living in Italy...
What's the word limit? 200? Not enough.

Quick Tips:

The most obvious, yet important, tip is to learn Italian. After that, be sure you'll have some sort of income overseas, whether with an Italian company or freelancing for the expat community.

Best Way To Get Around:

Walking is recomended in most cities, a bike is also a good idea. For day trips, or international trips, the trains are the way to go. If you want to take the scenic route, beware that roads are VERY CURVY in Tuscany.

Cosi

Restaurant

Quote:
I hesitate to tell anyone about this bakery shop for selfish reasons. I don’t want it to become a tourist trap, and therefore lose its dedication to making quality pastries, cookies and cakes. But as an IgoUgo editor, I have a commitment to bring you the best Florence has to offer. So if you want a taste of pastry heaven, head to Cosi`. Ask for a warm torta alla nonna.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 11, 2002

Cosi
Borgo Albizi
Florence, Italy

The Net Gate Internet Cafe

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Attraction

Quote:
If you need to check your email, do some Internet research, or print out a word or Excel document while on vacation (or more likely while on a business trip) the Net Gate Internet Cafe is a great choice. Computers are fast, rates are low (especially for students) and you can print as many pages as you’d like. There is hardly any wait time and the staff is helpful. Keep in mind that Italian keyboards differ a bit from American ones so it may take a little getting used to before your fingers are typing away. For example, the @ sign is to be found on the right side of the keyboard, next to the blank key. Type it while pressing alt gr. Delete is canc (for cancello) etc. Prices: 6,000 for an ho...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 28, 2001

The Net Gate Internet Cafe
Via dei Cimatori 17/r
Florence, Italy

Quote:
Getting your hair cut, never mind highlighted, in a foreign country where your knowledge of terms like "layers" and "straighten" is mediocre, can be a little scary. You might walk out with your hair the color and shape of none other than the bloated eggplant. I took a chance and entrusted my curly cues to the hands of Stefania at Rinascimenti on Via S. Elisabetta. Two things to know about salons in Italy: you don't make appointments and you pay for each service. My consultation was $5.00, the wash was $15.00, the cut $20.00. Highlights, or contrasti, are about $30.00 with a special conditioning treatment running you another $5.00. All in all, it cost me about the same, if not a little less ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 28, 2001

T. Rinascimento Parucchiere
Via Santa Elisabetta 13/r
Florence, Italy

Coin

Attraction | "COIN Department Stores"

Quote:
The tourists haven’t discovered it yet but like Rinascente, the other department chain in Italy, COIN is where to shop for styles from a host of designers, including American, at reasonable prices. Take advantage of the great sales at the end of each season, especially in August when many other clothing shops are closed for Feria (holiday). Departments include men, women’s, children and household goods.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 28, 2001

Coin
Via Calzaiuoli, 56r
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 055280531

Biking In Italy

Attraction | "Bicycles in Italy"

Quote:
Although there is the occasional stolen bike painted over in black, most can be found for sale in La Pulce, available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at all newsstands in Florence. You shouldn’t pay more than 70.000 lire, as most of the bikes here are old. Try to buy or rent a bike with a bell, to ring at tourists and other bikes in the middle of the street. Buy a lock that can reach through the body and wheel, and never just leave your bike leaning against a wall or lamppost unless you want it stolen and painted black.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 17, 2001

Biking In Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence Tour

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Attraction | "Strollin' Florence Style"

Quote:
In the summer, especially on weekends, join the Florentines for a stroll in the Piazza della Signoria or Repubblica or down Via Calzaioli after dinner. Tourists and locals alike stay out well into the night, sometimes as late as one or two in the morning. Street performers of the moment include human statues that move only when someone drops lira into their hat or cup, fire-eaters and twirlers, singers and slapstick comedians and can be found mostly near Piazza della Repubblica. Didn’t get all of your souveneir shopping done during the day? There are posters of famous Italian paintings or cityscapes, African art, fake Gucci bags and spray paint posters to buy. Occasionally there ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 17, 2001

Florence Tour

Florence, Italy

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo)

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Attraction | "Mass at Santa Maria dei Fiori"

Quote:
One of the magical things about Florence is the sound of Giotto¡¯s Campanile and the occasional glimpse of the simple bells slowly rocking in and out of such an ornate tower. The bells ring every day beginning at 8 am and ending at midnight, and are even more melodious on Sundays at 8 and 10:30 am when they remind everyone to come to mass. Pamphlets are available with the readings and prayers printed each week as you walk in so that foreigners can try to follow the mass, which is said in Italian. Be sure to dress properly: sneakers and jeans are permitted but short skirts and shorts, tanktops and sleeveless shirts are not. I recommend going to the 10:30 mass, but arriving at 10 to l...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 5, 2001

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo)
Piazza Del Duomo
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 055294514

Pick Up a Pencil

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Attraction

Quote:
To be in Florence is to be constantly inspired by art: architecture, painting, sculpture, cuisine and fashion. Frescoes of the Madonna or the stone heads of local patron saints pop out of the corners of buildings or nestle comfortably in the mustard-colored walls. In churches, eyes sculpted out of marble or painted in oil look out from between marble columns and the soft glow of candles. Even in the supermarkets, Venus’s hair is seen on a bottle of shampoo, flowing in Botticelli’s wind. Inspired to create some art of your own? A great shop for supplies is the BATI Art Supply Store, located on Via Verdi, at the end of the more popular Borgo Albizi. Watercolors, oils, pastels, charcoal and co...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 23, 2001

Pick Up a Pencil
BATI Art Supply Store
Florence, Italy

Getting the News

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Newspapers and magazines can be purchased at outdoor kiosks on the street corners of main piazzas and intersections throughout Florence. A wide selection of papers from Germany, England, and the United States (USA Today, The International Herald Tribune and the Sunday New York Times plus news weeklies like Newsweek and Time) are displayed next to Italian dailies like La Nazione, La Repubblica, and Corriere della Sera. An even wider range of magazines, including many from the States and England, are on display relatively soon after printing. Italian Vogue, Elle, Glamour and Cosmopolitan, plus other international editions of fashion, architecture, gossip, home and design magazines, are worth t...Read More

Pronto!

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Everyone has a cell phone in Italy. You should too. There are three main cell phone carriers: Telecom Italia, TIM and Wind. Differences in the plans are minute and depend on what you use your cell phone for: local calls, international calls or email. You’ll pay as you talk along: buy a 6 hour card for about $25.00 (50.000 lire) instead of paying a fixed price each month. A 50.000 lire card could last you anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks depending on how much time you spend on your cell phone and whether or not the call is local or international. If you and a friend have the same phone carrier, you’ll save money on calls made to each other as calls cost less when made from one TIM or Omnitel phone t...Read More
Quote:
Be prepared to wait at least two hours before the Italian washing machine decides that your clothes are once again clean enough to wear. After countless cycles and frustrating pauses where your clothes have time to soak for no apparent reason, you’ll have to drape your wet jeans and underwear, even king-sized bedsheets, over banisters, chairs or a line in the backyard. Dryers seem to take up too much energy. Your energy, instead, will be spent doing laundry all day and then waiting for everything to dry, without the scent of your favorite fabric softener. There are many laundromats in the big university towns, including Florence, and these usually take up less of your time and offer ...Read More

Renting an Apartment in Florence

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Story/Tip

Quote:
If you were interested in moving to Florence, and thereby renting an apartment, I’d recommend getting here first, then looking. Any search done from home will yield the more expensive options, as Florentines are well aware of the fact that you aren’t familiar with their real estate market. If you can spill 1,000 USD and up per month, by all means go online and call the advertised house agencies. If saving your money to spend on clothes, food or travel is more your style, stay in an inexpensive hotel upon arrival. You should be able to find something within two weeks, depending on your expectations. What will you find? It varies. The main options are the usual apartments, studios, and then...Read More

Using Public Telephones

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Story/Tip

Quote:
1. Buy a phone card, or carta telefonica, at a corner store with a captial T displayed near the front or at a newstand in the train station. Phone cards are sold in increments of 5,000 lire and 10,000 lire. A card worth 10,000 lire, or about 5 USD, should be sufficient for calling overseas. 2. Tear off corner triangle along dotted line. 3. Insert card into slot on right hand side of the phone. The amount of money left on your card will show up on the screen. Be sure to have at least 2,000 lire to make a phone call. 4. Dial the number. For international calls to the US, dial 00 then 1 plus the zip code and number. For dialing within Italy, star...Read More

A Postcard Secret

Story/Tip

Quote:
Though every tourist in Florence knows where to buy a postcard, not everyone knows how to send one. In Italy, to avoid the notoriously slow pace of mail, sneak your postcard into a regular mail envelope. The postage to the United States costs the same (1,500 lire) and it will get there ten times faster. Be sure to ask for priority stickers and remember, like everything else, postcards are ten times cheaper when bought off the beaten path.

Must-Reads for Americans in Italy

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
Vista Magazine Vista Magazine was founded by a Boston University alumna who has lived in Florence for the past ten years and is a well-respected journalist for papers like Corriere della Sera and the International Herald Tribune. Vista is a magazine about Florence and Tuscany with in-depth articles usually addresssing less well-known artistic and cultural itineraries. Vista Magazine also offers an extensive calendar, Month by Month, which is available at all American Universities, the Florence Tourist Center and selected café’s and bookstores. It is an invaluable resource for concerts, exhibits, theatre, English-language movies, and excursions into the Tuscan countryside. Vi...Read More