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Cato Apr 23rd, 2006 08:57 AM

Being Frugal, but Having Fun in Florence
We are trying to be frugal in order to stay for a few extra days in Italy and also take care of less fortunate family members back home. It is a tricky balancing act to be sure. Anyway, we would appreciate tips on saving a few coins in this very expensive city.

We plan to walk a lot, breakfast is included with the room, we will do a few picnics for lunch, and might sip a coffee at the bar instead of sitting down at a table outside.

How can we save on transportation & museum admissions?

Where can we find a supermarkets for drinks and snacks?

Any ideas for a sitdown dinner for two for under 40E?

michellen Apr 23rd, 2006 09:03 AM

I don't have a lot of advice, but we walked everywhere in transportation needed. We were also very fortunate that we were there during some sort of cultural week and all the museums were free! Maybe you can check out some museum websites and see if they have any of those coming up when you might be there?

Cato Apr 23rd, 2006 09:28 AM

Thanks - I've got a thread going on walks and have found quite a few good ones.

mcnyc Apr 23rd, 2006 09:37 AM

Florence is an easy walking city. Remember, old cities were made for walking, and the bonus, most of the attractions were seemingly built near each other! :P I walked everywhere, only taking a bus once to visit my friend.

There are plenty of Piazzas in Florence, so take advantage of the Piazzas for a little break from the walks. The only Piazza without seating was Piazza della Signoria that I remember (the seating police would come and shoo you away).

I can't guarantee there's still a supermarket there, but a few years ago, there was a supermarket behind the train station. Sorry, but I don't remember the name.

Culture week was April 2-9 this year, so we all missed it. My next trip to Italy will be planned around culture week to maximize my money.

However, if you or your companion work in a museum and can prove it, you can get an ICOM card for $100 which will provide you both with free entry into most museums.

olive_oil Apr 23rd, 2006 09:51 AM

ICOM card? What is that?

This is a wonderful forum. I am so happy to have found it. Planning a trip to Italy, my first, and I'll be posting my questions soon. But the above caught my eye, I work for an arts organization...

tledford Apr 23rd, 2006 09:53 AM

I was just in Florence and there is still a supermarket very close to the train station. I can't remember the exact location but it is in the area behind the Santa Maria Novella church.

Fairhope Apr 23rd, 2006 09:56 AM

Eat at cafeterias--10E each

mcnyc Apr 23rd, 2006 09:59 AM

You do? Which one?

ICOM is the International Council of Museums. If your arts organization is in the U.S., then you apply for ICOM membership through AAM.

Polly_Magoo Apr 23rd, 2006 10:07 AM

A good way to eat cheap in Flo is to find Chinese restaurants. There is a good one right off of Santa Croce Square. If you stand on the steps of the church facing the doors, it would be to your left down a passageway. There is a red lantern hanging from the doorway above the restaurant. I ate a big meal here for $7 in 2000.

I hope you also know that it is much cheaper to get takeaway than to sit down in many cafes/pizzerias. You can get some lunch on the Oltrarno and eat it on a bench in the square in front of Santo Spirito.

mcnyc Apr 23rd, 2006 10:22 AM

Sorry Polly, I must respectfully disagree. There are 2 cheapo sandwich places on Via de' Cerranti which, in my opinion, serve better food than any Chinese restaurant there. But I will try your place the next time I'm there, just out of curiousity. @};-

Polly_Magoo Apr 23rd, 2006 10:57 AM

I am not a sandwich person. I like to have a hot meal.

Neopolitan Apr 23rd, 2006 12:05 PM

I'm with you Polly, a little bread goes a long way with me, and after that's all you get at breakfast, the last thing I want later is more bread in the form of a sandwich -- or even pizza, which is primarily more bread!

Cato Apr 23rd, 2006 03:03 PM

Thanks for all the ideas. Looks like we will be fairly close to the supermarket.

Cato Apr 24th, 2006 06:15 AM


beanweb24 Apr 24th, 2006 07:13 AM

Here were our fave "on a budget" meals in Florence:

* Baldovino (both the enoteca and trattoria...get pizza or salad for best sundried tomatoes ever).

* BEST and CHEAP pizza and eggplant parmigiana across the Arno at Pizzeria I Tarocchi. Via dei Renai, 12. Frequented by students.

* Also enjoyed Ristorante Cafaggi. Here's a recent review (including cost):

ejkonz Apr 24th, 2006 08:08 AM

My favorite meal in Florence was at Piazza Michaelangelo ... there was a lovely and very pricey restaurant up there and we thought we might "bite the bullet" and pay the $$$ prices for the view ... high atop Florence at sunset ... spectacular. We arrived early and took a walk where we discovered a small pizza place with a terrace ... same view. We had a leisurely dinner of pizza and chianti (two bottles) for less than 20 euros and enjoyed a wonderful view ... still my favorite dinner ... ever!

NorthShore Apr 24th, 2006 08:23 PM

Osteria Santo Spirito
Piazza Santo Spirito
Italian, 10-24E

albaaust Apr 25th, 2006 12:31 AM

Do what we did..firstly, I took along small cans of tuna, packets of soup,noodles and bought cheese, salami, tomatoes and bread..even pesto dip and red wine from various supermarkets and had that in our hotel some nights. We also bought fruit which meant we were eating pretty healthily throughout the 6 weeks away.We bought a cheap jug in an electrical store in a street near the Duomo(Florence) and had soup (the packets of cup of soup(10) from home)some days and tea,coffee when we wanted.Whenever we arrived in a city the first thing I found out was where the big supermarkets were and we then did what the locals do. You can do a search on each of the cities or else another fodorite can direct you to a webpage. Take some cups that can handle hot water with you that you can ditch at the end of the trip.We also took a thermos flask with us so it meant we did not have to pay exhorbitant prices for a cup of coffee or tea.It also meant whenever we wanted to take in a view we had something warm to drink.(we went to Italy in Feb).I have to say that at times we enjoyed this more than the overrated meals we had had in some of the restaurants.

Jaki Apr 25th, 2006 12:58 AM

My son and I went for a dirt cheap very long weekend in Florence in January - it cost us £150. 00 a head for flights and accommodation which was booked through Hostelworld. We bought food from the Mercata Centrale and La Cantinetta in Borgo S. Lorenzo (a takeaway that does the most fantastic bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and onions for less than 2 Euros). We had an eat-in meal there - two different types of pasta with salad, coffee and beer and a massive fresh fruit salad dessert for just 19 Euros - in total, not each. We walked everywhere and avoided sitting down for coffees. The best and cheapest coffee was in the Mercato at a stall near the ground floor rear entrance (I can't recall the name but it was something like Pietro's and Maria's); it was a ridiculous price at around 30 cents with water at just 20 cents. Elsewhere water will cost you nearer to 2 Euros. There were plenty of reasonable restaurants around the San Lorenzo area. As for museums, if you are under 25 then you are classed as a student and admission is often half-price. We didn't have time to go to Siena but it would be interesting to know if it's any cheaper than Florence. Hope you have a good time!


baldrick Apr 25th, 2006 01:05 AM

For cheap food, it is indeed important to picnic at noon and to shop in a local supermarket.
For an economic sitdown dinner, it is imperative to leave the tourist district, to go in popular neighbourhoods and to look for simple trattorias. Walk for 15 to 20 minutes away from the tourist centre and look for trattorias with some local customers. In general, you'll also gain in quality.

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