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5 tips to cure seasonal depression in Florence

419955_10150525095047066_439677620_nponte vecchio florenceLets be honest for a moment here, no matter what anyone says, to put it quite simply January can kinda suck. I say that with the nicest of intentions but really after the initial “The new year just started! how awesome!” not much time passes until you hit mid-month and reality sets in, normally at the same time when the rains (or snow) starts and darkness falls around 5pm — just like the moods of many.

Just because you happen to live abroad in a beautiful place doesn’t mean you’re immune. Rather, if you are like me and are using public transportation on any given day, it might actually rain inside of the bus { as my friend Alexandra once wrote about}. Or you find yourself splashed by a car during your walk outside - you too may need a pick-me-up that hopefully doesn’t involve inhaling comfort foods like pizza and nachos. Here are my five tips to battled seasonal depression for expats and locals alike in Florence, Italy.

1. Take a hike!  

No I am not trying to tell you off but seriously I really believe that hiking is an awesome activity – unlike running on the same repetitive treadmill in the gym, you can be out and about discovering some of the beautiful views in Florence. I wrote last year about hiking as my version of free therapy (I need a session with my ‘therapist’ soon) and we are planning to go again this weekend depending on the weather. If you don’t feel like venturing too far, just ‘hike’ to Piazzale Michelangelo to see the panorama of Florence. Otherwise there are some great paths located in Fiesole, so hop on the number 7 bus and just wonder [the marked] paths. You can stop by the local information office if you want some maps but its pretty easy to figure out. Below you can see me on top of my favorite ‘find’ – the hiking path on top of Monte Giovi [above Rufina]. 

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2. Find the Snow! 

Everyday I see the weather forecast making a slight mention of the possibility of snow in Florence. While we all get excited and stare at the window, I kinda figure no snow will actually arrive and if it does it won’t stick. That being said, one really fun thing to do is actually go where the snow falls and just have a merry good time wearing your ridicolous Stefan-bought moonboots and making a sleigh on any given material! My brothers and I once made a sleigh out of a trash can lid – classy! If you have access to a car, I highly recommend checking Vallombrosa (famous also for its historical abbey). They have a snowy hill perfect for bring out your inner child plus there is a lot of history there. Also Abetone is a great choice for skiing, snowboarding or just having a snowy-good-time (sounds like a cheesy commercial) and is only an hour and a half away — I loved this blog post about one girl’s experience there.

3. Discover a place you have never been to in Florence.

 Considering we live in a city full of historical masterpeices, I am absolutely certain there is at least one place you haven’t yet visited. Whether it be the further from the center but very much worth seeing Stibbert Museum, the beautiful Russian orthadox church by the fortezza di basso, The Santa Maria Novella pharmacy, or the Church of San Miniato di Monte on top of Piazzale Michelangelo, why not bundle up and finally check one of these places out?

4. A day at the movies. 

Practice your Italian or take advantage of one of the original language movie theatres – Odeon cinehall, Astra Due and Fulgor. They even offer special cinema cards for selected theaters around town. There are some really popular movies this month, including Lincoln, Django and more —  here are the details for Fulgor, and here is the link for the Odeon original sound program. I really wish Odeon would finally update/fix their website, it pains me to even look at it ;).

5. Discover all of the coffee (and tea) places this city has to offer.

Yes I admit I am addicted to caffeine (and wine) and love nothing more than visiting with my friends over a cappuccino, hot chocolate, or chai tea. I have compiled a list with my favorite hideouts here and hey, considering how high energy costs are in Italy — better off basking in one these places than cranking up the heat at home. Advice from one cheapo to another.

*Don’t forget that there are many cool events this January  including a chocolate-themed fair at Obihall or affordable tours for locals and visitors alike – and don’t miss this year’s vintage selection!

*Also head to the thermal springs for a fun day soaking in the hot natural spring waters even if it’s freezing outside.

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  1. Michelle

    These are great suggestions. I’ve done two of them in January (hiking around Fiesole and visiting San Miniato) and can attest they indeed do much to lift the spirits. I must say though one of the reasons I feel so lucky to live here is that it is far less dark and depressing than in other parts of the world during this time of year. I find it much easier to fend off seasonal affective disorder here than in my native Toronto!

    • ggnitaly84

      thanks for your comment Michelle! Sometimes I will get in a mood and then I have to remind myself of all of the things I am (not doing). I grew up in a sunny climate (texas) and then again Los Angeles, so all of the rain is a little ‘new’ to me but I love the cold as long as its sunny! In fact, I am off in a few to get some chai tea, gotta take my own advice haha.

  2. kat

    I don’t actually mind January so much, maybe because I grew up somewhere that also had cold, dark winters… But I think it’s really cool that there are places to go hiking right from Florence though. There’s such beautiful countryside that I usually only got to see from a train. It’s actually been a really long time since I’ve set foot in nature outside of a city… I guess I’ll have to change this soon!

    • ggnitaly84

      We are very lucky in florence, that’s for sure! i would say, if you don’t have a car or access to one try the hiking trail in Fiesole for sure, it’s really nice – the panoramic path! I only went for the first time myself last year!

  3. relishandgraze

    Being Australian, I tell everyone that I am ‘conditioned’ to sunshine and that’s why the UK winters and I have never got along! It’s those endless dark days without sunshine that kill me! Thanks for your tips :)


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