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A Backpacker's Guide to Florence

Posted: 06/25/2013 3:46 pm

While sojourning in a large city can often be quite draining in terms of energy and, more importantly, financial resources, this does not always have to be the case. Because Florence is a top tourist destination with an abundance of historical sights, pricing is often determined based on the predominantly foreign demographic. Contrary to popular belief, however, these monetary hurdles may be surmounted, provided one is willing to invest a little time researching budget-friendly hotspots and inexpensive things to do in Florence. Here are a few suggestions.

Museums
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Those looking to soak up some Florentine history in a museum setting while avoiding the cost of pricier locations like The Uffizi Galleries or the Accademia will find Museuo dell'Opera del Duomo a perfect fit. At just 6 euros per ticket, this museum is significantly less expensive than its aforementioned contenders and, because it houses the numerous works once found in the Duomo, offers just as much, if not more. Here, one may be made privy to famous Renaissance masterpieces (both painted and sculptural) as executed by Michelangelo, Donatello, and Ghiberti.

Gardens
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For a relaxing outdoor experience with scenic vistas and foliage-induced solace, Boboli Gardens is a prime destination. These lush and seemingly endless gardens offer both a welcome reprieve from the metropolitan hustle and bustle of Florence and a relatively inexpensive yet wonderfully fulfilling experience. Those artistically inclined are free and, in fact, encouraged to bring a sketchbook and spend the day here drawing to their heart's content. An Italian picnic complete with food, wine and music is another great option.

Shopping
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The notion of shopping in Italy often brings to mind expensive leather goods and overpriced souvenirs. While this is often true, however, it does not always have to be the case. San Lorenzo Market is a short walk from the Duomo and a must see. Although it is one of the more tourist-oriented locations, it is also home to some authentic cafés. Bargaining is both expected and encouraged, so those who are master hagglers have the opportunity to save a great deal of money. For visitors without a single euro to spare, window shopping and people watching is enjoyable here as well.

Aperitovos
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Apperitivo (the Italian form of appetizers) serves as an essential part of the local culture and an excellent way in which to receive the most bang for your buck, food-wise. Access to Slowly Café's well-stocked buffet in its entirety means simply purchasing a cocktail or fountain drink from the menu. This posh venue is excellent for conversing with stylish locals and visitors alike. Even better, its laidback vibe and tasty cocktails provide weary travelers with a means of unwinding from a long day of Florentine sightseeing.

Live Music
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A night in Florence would not be complete without a visit to one of the most popular bars or clubs in the city. The Oltrarno area (just across the Ponte Vecchio) is a far more authentic neighborhood filled primarily with locals. While this allows for a more culturally rewarding experience and a chance to interact with genuine Italians, it further exempts one from the pricey drinks often sold in the more tourist-based nightlife venues. Library Bar and jazz lounge La Cite, for example, offers its patrons an upbeat atmosphere and interesting clientele with no cover charge.

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