It may not have the leaning tower of Pisa, but Florence still provides a glorious experience and can even be done at very little cost, especially if you know where to look. You’ll find anything from free tours to markets, churches, parks, and a library with great cultural identity. Of course, most people assume when you are in a new city you have to spend money, and yes, housing and food will need to be covered, but many things in Florence are quite easily accessible without added cost. Here is a guide to help you along the way while you visit Florence!
Free Walking Tour
Normally, when you hear “tour” you think about having to pay for someone to walk you around and show you stuff while providing insightful information about the area you are in. And in most cases this is correct; however Florence in particular actually has an entire professional group devoted to offering daily free tours of Florence to anyone interested. Luckily, it is offered in English too. The company is funded entirely from donations and tips provided, though they aren’t necessary. It is a great way to get a tour in and you don’t even have to do much, just follow along from the start of the church. You’ll even get to see many of the things mentioned further in this guide.
A Wide Selection of Churches and Cathedrals
In particular, you can visit the third largest cathedral in the world, Santa Maria del Fiore, which offers a great forum in the front with an obelisk. But beyond just that one there are at least a dozen other churches and cathedrals, many of them only really open for tourists and special events, which means they are completely free to see the beautiful works they house, almost like a museum. There are a few exceptions, like the Santa Maria Novella, which charges to get in, but right next to them is a free pharmacy that was used by monks hundreds of years ago for various herbal remedies, including things like soaps, and perfumes. Just exploring the smells can be fun.
Every Market in Florence
This may seem like not much, but there are an incredible amount of local markets you can scavenge around and the best part is you don’t have to buy anything (although I’d love to see someone walk away with not having gotten something, it’s hard.) There are nine or ten markets to find, some have specific days they run, while others go each day just at certain hours. Which means you’ll have to coordinate your hours to fit the markets but they are definitely worth seeing. The Flea market is probably the most common and runs daily in the Piazza dei Ciompi.
The Simple Greenery and Not so Simple Statues
Finally, there are quite a few gardens to visit for no cost. And these are well worth the time to see, considering they not only have rare works scattered among them, but offer some incredible green views. Some of the flower gardens generally only open around the spring months, like the Garden of Iris, but there are plenty that are open year round like Cascine Park. Then there are the ones who are technically also museums even though they are mostly outside, like Boboli Garden (which has some of the most amazing statues).
And these are just a few of the things found in Florence. There are plenty of festivals that go on for certain points of the year, and even places like the oblate library that is sometimes regarded as a cultural center providing calming but Florence specific decoration and atmosphere. So no matter your budget, it is definitely worth the excursion to Florence.
By Sarah Murphy