If you’re in Firenza/Florence and you are a big foodie, go to the Il Mercato Centrale. It is like Granville Island except Italian style. We went to AltoBio, where we got black truffle, truffle oil, truffle salt and some aged balsamic vinegar for way cheaper than you could ever find in Vancouver.


I think for all four items, Josh paid around 60 euros which is nothing. If you try to buy truffle ingredients in Vancouver, it is at a premium.

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This girl was super friendly and knowledgeable. She also gave us a balsamic vinegar tasting. To be honest, I’ve never cared too much for balsamic vinegar. It reminds me of a sharp salad, drowned in sour goodness. But going on this tasting just made me realized I’ve just had cheap balsamic vinegar all my life, or one year as she taught us. The 10 year was less sharp and more bold in its flavour. The 15 year was super sweet and almost candied. It’s crazy how much time affects the flavour of something. We also picked up a 10 year bottle.

IMG_5647We continued to shop in many little shops. We got a bag full of handmade pasta, sundried tomatoes, a perfume bottle of olive oil and packaged olives. The sundried tomatoes were my best purchase – they loved it back here! The package olives were the opposite, only because they were slightly bitter. Our theory is that these are freshly picked olives and need to be marinated. For lunch, we went to this sandwich shop… where the men were chasing this old man with pans. They were all laughing and being jovial, and I couldn’t help but sneak in a couple giggles.

IMG_5648I would recommend going to Nerbone. It’s literally meat and bread. Josh got pancetta and I got roast beef. It is not for the healthy at heart: they drench the bun in the fat/gravy.

IMG_5650 IMG_5651So my impressions of Florence being there one day as a tourist:

  • There is a lot to do! I had to choose between the Gucci Museum and the Ufizi, David or the bridge! I didn’t get to eat the rumoured phone-book sized steak!
  • The gelato is piled high here. It’s 6 euro and up, compared to its street counterpart. It is amazing both in how it looks and how it tastes.
  • It feels less safe than Venice sometimes. I saw a guy get his stuff stolen while he was taking a selfie. The guy was standing on a plant box while his friend took his picture, while their backpacks were behind them. Four guys eyed them and started laughing. I had no idea what those four guys were thinking as I was walking by. But in a matter of seconds, one of the four guys ran over and picked up their backpacks. The other three ran after him, snickering. Watch your things.
  • You feel more like a tourist in this city and not everyone is as friendly towards you. I had a frequency of more street peddlers trying to sell me selfie sticks or purses. Moreso, I don’t think the locals care as much about tourists, than say Venice, where the city is used to tourism. Florence feels like a city, like New York. You can have a good time and find help, but for the most part the citizens are doing their own thing. When I climbed up the Ufizi tower, one of the guards also was telling another person that the friendliness towards tourists was lukewarm in the city.

On the flip side, it is a very beautiful city, and the statue of David is here as well.

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IMG_5696To be honest, Josh and I didn’t feel safe enough to wait at the train station for our night train. We tried our best to park ourselves in cafes. A handful gave us mediocre service so i won’t review them. Two were good. One was Speedy Snack, which if you didn’t guess is a snack bar. A lot of locals came in here as well. It seemed like a tourist spot, but the food was very good and they had almost everything, including gelato.

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We also went into another cafe, which I’ve forgotten the name to but the lady inside was nice enough to cut us a freshly sliced fruit salad.

IMG_5701The other cities I wanted to see were Rome, Sicily and a quick view of Lake Como. After going to Florence, I have an impression I should travel in a group or with an Italian speaker. I think generally overall, because I am guarded and often look like a student than some socialite, I’ve never been mugged or harassed too hard or felt at total danger. But I am also an Asian girl, so I stick out pretty fast. Plus, there were areas I ran into off the tourist track where people knew very little English. I tried my best speaking basic Italian so I felt people generally perked up and were happy. In Florence, I only had one negative experience where I was trying to order in Italian and one of the waiters retorted snarkily that he could speak in English. If I travel down south, I think it would be advantageous to learn more Italian or find a travel buddy who speaks the language. I would love to see the countryside but I’m skeptical of my poor Italian. A tourist definitely would need more courage, knowledge and street savvy if they were to venture in one or two.

Read More About Nathalie’s Time in Italy:

Part 1: Venice, Italy
Part 2: Venice, Italy
Part 3: Art in Venice
Part 4: Florence, Italy
Part 5/6: Venice x Heathrow

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