Hostelling in Europe - Exploring Florence on a Budget

Hostelling in Europe is a popular pastime for adventurous, open-minded people from all over the world. It offers the opportunity to visit several different countries over the course of a few weeks and still remain within a budget. Hostels are cheaper alternatives to hotels and offer guests the chance to meet like-minded travellers, who may even end up lifelong friends. Hostelling in Europe is exceptionally easy and the establishments are welcoming, friendly and often a great source of local information.


The Renaissance Capital of Italy on a Budget

If you're hostelling in Europe and intend passing through Italy, you will no doubt find yourself in Florence during the course of your trip. Florence, one of the most stunning of Europe's cities is set in the heart of Tuscany, close to Pisa, Siena, the Cinque Terre and the incredible Tuscan countryside, making it a great base for exploring. The city itself is bursting with incredible architecture, wonderful museums and a world of history - and you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy these delights. Of course, if you're keen on seeing the Statue of David and the Uffizi, for example, there will be a charge, but there is plenty to see in the city that won’t actually cost you a penny.

Florence is a haven for art lovers and, luckily, not all of its art is hidden away in museums. Piazza della Signoria is a beautiful square outside the town hall full of replicas of famous statues, including Michelangelo’s David. There are some lovely cafes and restaurants in the square too, so you can sit back and enjoy a coffee while marvelling at Cellini’s Statue of Perseus alongside sculptures by Donatello and Giambologna standing proud in the outdoor sculpture gallery.

For the best views of the city, take a stroll up to Piazza Michelangelo, where the spectacular panorama of the city greets you. You can walk up by crossing the Ponte Vecchio and heading up the grand stone steps, or you can take the bus from the train station. There are lots of vendors up in the piazza selling all manner of souvenirs, and the Church of San Miniata is close by, which you can enter for free. If you arrive at the right time you may be lucky enough to hear the beautiful rhythmic chanting of the nuns at the afternoon service.
The Ponte Vecchio itself deserves more than a passing glance. The famous medieval bridge is home to a host of gold and jewellery shops and you can often see street entertainers performing nearby. Across the river is the beautiful Oltrarno District, which was once the residential area of the prestigious Medici family. Much of Florence’s history is linked to this family and you can visit their Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, along with several museums. For these, and indeed the more expensive museums, it is worth purchasing a Firenze Card, which includes several museums on the same ticket. You can even get a three-day combination card so you don’t have to rush around everything in a day.

When you plan a trip hostelling in EuropeFeature Articles, make sure you set aside a few days in Florence - it doesn't have to break the bank!

Author:Lisa Jeeves
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