As we come to the end of 2013, we do so with an emphatic exhale. We have to admit, the year started off a bit rocky for all of us. Hostess had stopped packaging their pastries, whispers of a looming bacon shortage shook us to the core, Sharknado was released, and then the Pope went and quit. With the impending apocalypse (the only feasible explanation), encouraging our readers to drop everything and travel to Italy, made our mission more imperative than ever. While we hunkered down at our laptops, we are happy to say that when we came up for air and looked back on 2013, we realized that both the world had not ended and Florence for Free, with your support and encouragement, had a fantastic year. Without further ado, Florence for Free 2013 Year in Review in 13 shorts.
1. Fan Faves: In 2013 the Jersey Shore Walk continued to reign supreme as our most popular post until the Dan Brown art-thriller set in Florence, Inferno, dropped. Meg’s guide to the novel was the first to take Dan Brown fans on a completely free walk in the footsteps of Robert and Sienna. Drunk Jersey kids and fact-bending art history – what can we say, we love it too!
2. Free Museum Mania: Of course we like to balance our shameless indulging in pop culture with the fine arts. Un Bacione di Firenze allowed us to take you to some of the city’s finest museums (such as the Stefano Bardini Museum and the Brancacci Chapel) absolutely free. And, although we fly our penny-pinching flag proudly, we couldn’t in good conscience send you to Florence without seeing the biggies such as the Uffizi and the Accademia. So, Meg outlined how to do those museums on the cheap (there’s always a loophole).
3. We used our degrees, finally: We walked you through the story of the David, up to the mystical San Miniato al Monte, and to one of our favorite little secret art galleries right under our noses – the Palazzo Vecchio Courtyard.
4. Seasonal Bliss: We celebrated the seasons by crafting our fantasy platonic and not-so-platonic Valentine dates, indulging in local holiday traditions such as the Scoppio del Carro and the celebration of the Miracle of San Zanobi, and mapped out a walk that will help you love even the rainy season.
5. We pounded some pavement: We’re walkers. No one is surprised by that. We took rejuvenating walks along the Arno trail and to the Medici Villas, ventured up to Fiesole, and even crafted up a crawl inspired by our favorite coffee breaks.
6. We Got Practical: A girls gotta eat, but these girls gotta eat on the cheap! We revealed our tips to budget meals and snacks by mapping out convenient (and delicious) supermarkets as well as our late-night favorite - secret bakeries. Finally, we got down to business and answered the question everyone really wants to know – how to pee for free in Florence.
7. Lived Like Locals: Unless you’re experiencing a city like a local, you’re doing it wrong. To shop like the locals we took you on a tour of the best markets by neighborhood. And, to live like the ever-growing hipster population in Florence, we outlined the best quirky, ironic little hangouts for sporting your vintage Converse and discussing poetry over a latte.
8. We Partnered: We love art and we love Tuscany, and thanks to Tuscany Arts we were able to advocate both. Tuscany Arts published a two-part Medici Walk mapped out by yours truly. In typical FFF fashion, we presented history in a way that would make our former professors question why we were ever accepted into grad school.
9. Free Art Walk: When local artist Patrik Lundell approached Meg and I about collaborating with him in creating a free art walk/scavenger hunt, we eagerly jumped aboard! Art History, trivia, discovering Florence, free art??? Please! There was no question. With Patrik’s creative genius and talent, coupled with our knack for quirky riddles and oddball facts, we hosted the Free Art Walk this past November.
10. We Planned a Trip: Last June Meg and I pulled the Expedia trigger and booked a couple of one way (ah we wish!) tickets to Italy! Our excitement oozed through our keyboards and occupied our posts for months. We shared our tips on packing and even our very own Italy 2013 bucket list. We even confessed our teachable moment (ok our apartment-renting faceplant) in hopes that you’ll allow us to make the missteps for you.
11. We made it back to the motherland: We coasted on our vacation high through the fall and even into this winter – heck, we’re still on it. Perhaps the best decision was packing up Meg’s boyfriend, an exceptionally talented photographer, in our bags. He documented our magical week and achieved the impossible – photos as good as our memories. For a glimpse into what it’s like to frolic around Italy with the gals of FFF take a peek at our five free favorites for both Rome and Florence featuring Matt’s handy work.
12. Tuscan Wedding: If you’re a regular you surely can’t be surprised that the capstone of our year was the breathtakingly (border-line suffocatingly) beautiful Tuscan wedding of our dear friend Suzanne to her Italian stallion Tomasso. I mean seriously you guys, I think that was the day we peaked.
13. Florence for Free 2013 Summit: As we crashed back to reality after our fantasy vacanza, we marked a reunion of our own on our calendars for what we would call the Florence for Free 2013 Summit. Really it just involved a lot of room service, shopping, and selfies. We’ll probably write it off?
While the summit wasn’t exactly a business meeting, we did discuss a very exciting 2014 for FFF. So, as we plummet into winter, and the days put more and more space between us and Florence, we should be nose-diving into the most depressing time of year, but instead, we can’t wait to reveal even more penny-pinching tips, free walks, sights, and events. Mostly, we can’t wait to give you more reasons to love Florence.
In the end, thanks to Miley twerking this year back to life, 2013 turned out alright. But I have a sneaking suspicion that 2014 will be even better. Buon anno a tutti and may this year you find a buddy and see the world!