In case you haven’t been following florence for free since day one (aka everyone other than our parents) then we would like to provide you with a recap of the exciting free adventures that we have taken you on over the past six months of blogging and give you a sneak peek of where we’re going in 2013.
The florence for free baby was born in July 2012 after months of Meg and I sending ourselves into nostalgic spirals as we reminisced about our lives in Florence. Oh what we wouldn’t have given to be back taking our evening stroll along the Arno, people watching in the Loggia dei Lanzi, or jogging up to Piazza Michelangelo (ok so we never actually did that, but we always planned on it). One day we decided that instead of hopelessly longing for our former fantasy lives in Florence, we would write about them. And while we were at it, we hoped to inspire a few free adventures in other young, curious, economically challenged travelers such as ourselves. A few keystrokes later we were off!
Since that fated summer day we have taken our readers to some of our favorite places in Florence, and, if done correctly, didn’t cost them a penny! We took you to the world famous Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella and the Scuola del Cuoio, to tantalize the senses with a million free smells and buttery-soft leather jackets to run your fingers through. For a more visual indulgence we sent you to the blooming and peaceful English Cemetery to visit the graves of famous Englishmen and women in Florence. We let our inner art historians run rampant just a few times and took you to see some hidden gems such as the works of Botticelli in Ognisanti, Donatello at the grain market turned church of Orsanmichele, and Pontormo’s Mannerist masterpiece in the Capponi Chapel. Our snooping side came out as we showed you a few former meeting rooms of confraternities that we sniffed out such as the Oratory of San Martino and il Chiostro dello Scalzo.
Although we loved telling you about Florence’s nooks and crannies, we didn’t ignore the biggies. Instead of spouting the obvious facts about sites like Piazza della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Duomo, we offered little-known facts and off-color attributes of these tourist magnets. An angel flipping off Florence on the Duomo? Yup, we’re definitely getting straight to the good stuff.
We then got you walking off all of that gelato by showing you the city through hand-crafted walks by yours truly – oh, and we made sure there was something for everyone. For the sartorially conscious we turned Florence into a runway and strutted you around fashion hot spots of the city. We took the history buffs back in time to find the Ancient Roman roots of the Renaissance city. Nature lovers took a breath of fresh air through our hike outside the city walls to a hilltop castle. Lovers of food and art were dined and dazzled in the many cenacoli of the city to see Last Supper scenes by Renaissance masters. Christmas fanatics (such as myself) took a stroll through the best light displays in Florence for a serious dose of holiday cheer. Ghostbusters suited up for a haunted walk of the city. Even realty TV super fans were indulged with a walk hitting all places christened by the guidos and guidettes of the Jersey Shore during their season in Florence. For those looking for an authentic Italian experience, we created neighborhood strolls of Sant’ Ambrogio and Santo Spirito. And for those who simply wanted to step back and take in the best view of the city, we took you all the way up to San Miniato al Monte with some picture perfect stops on the way. Phew! Those glutes burning yet?!
Before we let you fill up your calendar too fast though, we made sure you were aware of the must hit events, festivals and feast days in the city. We started the party with fireworks this summer at the Feast of San Giovanni. We then gorged on free watermelon in celebration of the Feast of San Lorenzo, shot spitballs at paper lanterns on the Festa della Rificolona, glitzed and glammed at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, found a way to oktoberfest in the land of wine, and paid homage to our ancestors on All Souls Day. In between the parties we made sure you knew about other important dates to watch for free museum entries and gallery openings.
For those of you who doubt our ability to go on, to keep finding free adventures in Florence after that litany of free activities and sites, then you underestimate the power of two girls in Europe on tight budgets. Not only do we have more free fun to share with you in Florence, but if you’re good we might even take you on a piccola gita or two! And as for the sneak peek into 2013….villa crawls, secret bakeries, and fireworks in a church. Does that wet your whistle at all? Buon anno tutti!