Danya Carithers is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Danya tells us about some of her favorite hidden gems in Florence.
With its ancient architecture and Renaissance masterpieces there is no doubt why Florence is one of the most traveled cities and most popular destinations for study abroad. But it can become frustrating when you spend most of the time waiting in lines instead of experiencing what the city has to offer. Over my past couple months in Florence, I have found some unique places that hold all the history and charm and none of the large touristy crowds.
Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was founded by Dominican friars in 1221 and is known as one of the world’s oldest pharmacies. It’s close to the Santa Maria Novella train station and is easy to walk right past. However, this pharmacy does not sell allergy medicine and sunscreen like the others. As soon as you step through the massive door, you are carried away by invigorating and delicious scents. A fact that a lot of people don’t actually know is that perfume were actually first made in Florence when Catherine de Medici asked a scent be made for her wedding called Acqua Della Regina. Now the pharmacy has a wide variety of scents in form of lotions, soaps, and oils too. My personal favorite is the green tea scent.
Local street artist CLET
While walking through the streets of Florence, you might have noticed street signs with witty graffiti art on them. That is the work of a Florentine artist Clet Abraham, also known as CLET. CLET renovates the street signs into discrete pieces of art that has become an iconic symbol for Italian street art. It is fun to spot his art on the street but I also recommend visiting his studio in the San Niccolò neighborhood across the Arno. There you have the possibility to meet him and see pictures of all his pieces.
Watch the Sunset in San Miniato al Monte
Most people flock to Piazza Michelangelo to have panoramic views of Florence at sunset. But I’ve found an even better place. San Miniato al Monde is a basilica at one of the highest points in Florence (even higher than Piazzo Michelangelo!). My friends and I love to sit on the stairs in front of the basilica with our food and drink of choice.
Jazz Club Firenze
At night there are a variety of options to spend your time at. My personal favorite is a small, underground jazz club a few blocks away from the Duomo. This is one of the most favorite jazz club by Florentine locals, so it’s a great place to to meet (or people watch) Italians who are my age. Membership is only 5 euro and I have been amazed by the skill of the performers every time I have gone.
Each of these hidden gems have been some of my favorite memories while studying abroad. My friends and I have made a tradition out of eating Gusto Pizza on the steps of San Miniato and going to Jazz Club Firenze on Sunday nights. Even though I only have about two weeks left in Italy, I hope I find a few more hidden spots that helps me learn more about Florence’s rich culture and history, before I (very very sadly) go home.
Danya's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned!