Florence

5 Reasons Florence is the Best City in the World

Katherine Slatten is a student at Rhodes College and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy.

  1. Gelato

Let’s face it: when in Italy, you must eat gelato. It’s on basically every corner. While I do miss Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream, authentic gelato is to die for. Tip from a local Florentine: don’t go into the gelaterias that have gelato stacked up really high in the display. Those do not have the best gelato and are aimed at tourists.

This gelateria was recommended by some of the ISA staff here in Florence. It tasted even better than it looks.

This gelateria was recommended by some of the ISA staff here in Florence. It tasted even better than it looks.

First of all, Beyonce has been here. So that's pretty cool. And they make the cones in front of you. Absolutely delicious.

First of all, Beyonce has been here. So that’s pretty cool. And they make the cones in front of you. Absolutely delicious.

  1. Art and Architecture

There are museums and art everywhere. At the end of my four months in Florence, there will probably still be a lot that I haven’t seen. ISA Florence offered a boat tour down the Arno River that I was able to attend, and it was crazy to see all of the bridges and buildings from a different perspective.

This is one of the views of the Ponte Vecchio we had on our boat tour offered through ISA. The actual shops are a little pricey, but you definitely have to stop in a few.

This is one of the views of the Ponte Vecchio we had on our boat tour offered through ISA. The actual shops are a little pricey, but you definitely have to stop in a few.

This is one of the views of the Ponte Vecchio we had on our boat tour offered through ISA. The actual shops are a little pricey, but you definitely have to stop in a few.

These are some of the buildings overlooking the Arno River. Some are apartments, hotels, and restaurants.

 

I also walk through Piazza della Signoria everyday, which is where the Uffizi Museum is as well as multiple sculptures. If you walk towards the river from there, there’s also a nice view of the Ponte Vecchio.

This statue in Piazza Signoria is done by Giambologna and is called the Rape of the Sabine. In this case, the word rape means abduction rather than what we associate it with.

This statue in Piazza Signoria is done by Giambologna and is called the Rape of the Sabine. In this case, the word rape means abduction rather than what we associate it with.

This statue "Hercules and Caco" is also in Piazza Signoria and is done by Bandinelli. It's right next to the copy of Michaelangelo's David.

This statue “Hercules and Caco” is also in Piazza Signoria and is done by Bandinelli. It’s right next to the copy of Michaelangelo’s David.

  1. Food

The food here is unbelievably delicious. A constant worry for most people that study abroad is gaining weight. Well, the food here is much more fresh than anything in the United States. Every single pasta dish I’ve gotten has been to die for, but before you head to Italy, you must know that spaghetti and meatballs is not a traditional Italian dish. I’ve only seen it offered at a few restaurants.

This restaurant is located off of Via de Neri, kind of hidden. It's totally worth finding though. Every dish was delicious and they have super friendly staff members.

This restaurant is located off of Via de Neri, kind of hidden. It’s totally worth finding though. Every dish was delicious and they have super friendly staff members.

 

  1. The Trifecta: City, Beach and Countryside

While Florence is a bustling city constantly filled with tourists, many locals live outside the city. One of my professors has an hour commute every day to get to school; she lives out in the countryside.

This is the winery we got to tour, taste the grapes and wine. Absolutely stunning.

This is the winery we got to tour, taste the grapes and wine. Absolutely stunning.

There are also plenty of easy to get to beaches near Florence. They even built a make-shift beach down the Arno River, but I wouldn’t suggest getting in the water. I took a day trip to Viareggio, which is about an hour and a half train ride away. It’s also easy to get to Cinque Terre and the Almafi Coast, which are more well known.

You'll have to pay 5 euro to get a beach chair, but it's 100% worth it. While the beach is in front of you, the mountains are to the right. Something I've never seen before.

You’ll have to pay 5 euro to get a beach chair, but it’s 100% worth it. While the beach is in front of you, the mountains are to the right. Something I’ve never seen before.

  1. Traveling

Florence is in such a great location for traveling not only throughout Italy, but throughout Europe as well. For example, I’ve already been to Germany, Venci, the Almafi Coast, and Croatia. The next ones on my list include Prague, Amsterdam, London, Ireland, Siena, Pisa, and Venice. There are a lot of travel companies here that are affordable and plan your weekend out for you, so it’s not as stressful.

If you have time, Croatia is a must. The water is totally see through and absolutely beautiful.

If you have time, Croatia is a must. The water is totally see through and absolutely beautiful.

Overall, Florence is an amazing city, super easy to get around and has a lot of history and beauty. If I had the chance to go back and change where I chose to study abroad, I wouldn’t.

Ciao from the top of Piazza Michaelangelo. It's a hike to get all the way up, but it's SO worth it.

Ciao from the top of Piazza Michaelangelo. It’s a hike to get all the way up, but it’s SO worth it.

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