Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

Georgette’s guide to surviving Florence this August



So you are here this August in Florence, Italy. Part of me wonders why, if after all you presumably did some research and discovered that most Italians {less though this year} escape for some or all of the month of August to various seaside locations, to the mountains, or abroad. What is left is plenty of parking in the center and loads of tourists sporting every kind of hat imaginable to man, child and baby… perhaps even dogs. 

Or you could be like me. Having already used vacation time earlier in the year for your brother’s wedding and now must stay here in empty-land aka Firenze and save money for your future apartment/life/taxes/whateverelsecomesup. This month I have taken a dog/house sitting job in the Bellosguardo area of Florence which is walking distance to my work {yes uphill – my thighs will thank me later} and this weekend was my first taste on what it’s like to live in a real house in Italy. I mean a house that perfectly blends the best of Italy & America all in one. Just to give you a realistic idea of what it’s like to look for apartments in Florence with an Italian salary vs. real house.

If you happen to be renting a room with a view of the duomo, who needs clean sheets?
If you happen to be renting a room with a view of the duomo, who needs clean sheets?

Now I can truly understand why so many people still live with their parents. In fact, I am openly looking to be ‘adopted’ by an Italian nonna or two who want to be entertained by a fesity Americana. I can provide the stories for Sunday lunch and they can provide the housing & meddling advice. Fair trade, no? ;-). 

I sometimes wish that I could write the owners of these places and suggest they take a trip to Ikea or mondo convenienza  instead of pillaging the local dumpsters after dark to furnish their rental apartments. Either that or we young people should convince/demand companies to pay a livable wage in Italy. I am so done with the menefreghismo or dontgiveadamnism by people.

In any case, it is what it is and I am hopeful that i will find that perfect oasis – if you have any suggestions, write me here. Until then let’s survive August. Since I am in town, living breathing and drinking – here are my tips to surviving this month in la mia bella citta. And if you happen to buy a kiddie pool for your small terrazza – invite me over, there is no shame in that in this weather! ;-).

  • When hiding in darkened rooms during the hottest parts of the day {ie: from about noon till 7-8pm} seek out refuges such with wi-fi such as Arnold’s Coffee near the station for ice chai & Americano, aperitivo on top of Hotel Minerva, or Libreria Brac, Via dei Vagellai, 18 – the cutest bookstore/restaurant with awesome aperitivo/wine/dinner drinks. For a list of cool nightlife bars and outdoor spaces – here you go! 
  • I just discovered that this summer Terrazza Brunelleschi (Terrace on top of Hotel Baglioni near the station) offers a nightly 10 euro aperitivo based on veggies! Not only that but they quite literally have the BEST PANORAMIC VIEW in town. seriously – you won’t want to miss this!

  • Visit the new ‘oktoberfest’ Hofbrau beer house on via aretina 133. I warn you – if you order the super maxi 45 cm wurstel, expect a few glances. Prices range from about 10-15 euros for plates like the one below. They also have huge beers.
Strudel, hot brezel, and lots and lots of meat
Perfect for caption contests!
  • Go to Bilancino Lake. Don’t want to wade with 1,000 people at the beach and stare at flourescent speedos and the screaming ‘coco belloo’ guy every five minutes? Why not head over to my favorite Tuscan Lake – Bilancino! It’s a big lake and I suggest heading to Bahia beach where you can rent paddle boats, canoes or an umbrella and lounge chairs. Only 40 minutes from Florence!

  • Hike & Picnic in Fiesole, Vallombrosa or Monte Giovi. Believe it or not you can find really cool hiking trails in Tuscany where the air is much cooler and you can also breathe in air that doesn’t glue your contact lenses to your eyes. While Vallombrosa and Monte Giovi are my favorite hiking escapes. The closest (and no need to take a car) is obviously, Fiesole. Just take the number 7 bus from Piazza San Marco around 7pm {about 20-25 minutes bus ride} and bring a bottle of wine and some cheese, bread and fruit for a summer picnic overlooking Florence and the Tuscan hills. I love it up there.

  • Head over to Festa del Mugello, the summer sagra/food festival along the river {lungarno aldo moro} located next to Obihall {ex-saschall} – you can get there by bus. The past years I was never very impressed but I went last week and really loved everything we got. Especially the cheese plate, bbq and taglerini al tartufo. Plus it’s all outside so you can eat al fresco for a relatively cheap price. website. 

  • Enjoy a glass of wine under the stars this Saturday, August 10th for the annual Calice di Stelle {meteor shower/local festival} all over Italy. For the official list of locations celebrating this event in Tuscany, click here.

  • Go to Siena’s Palio {August 16th} and visit the uncovered marble floors in Siena’s duomo! {not until AUgust 18th and only can be seen until October}. I have never been to Siena’s Palio but I would like to! And if you are here, might as well see one of the most famous horse races in the world. As for the uncovering of SIena’s famous marble floors – well that is just as spectacular. When I was a student, Siena’s duomo is breathtaking inside and the floors are truly a special work of art to behold! More info here.
  • Aperitivo at Florence’s synagogue! You heard me right – this August there are several occasions where you can enjoy a concert & aperitivo at one of the most beautiful places in town – the synagogue near Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. Thanks to Te Le Do Firenze – I know about this and I very much would like to check it out! Who’s with me? More info {in Italian} in this article by La Repubblica.

Also check out Florence’s official summer website – Estate Fiorentina 2013 where you can find more info about concerts, events for kids and more. I personally feel the site could have done better {and they didn’t translate everything} but hey, it works. Here is an additional list of events/outside venues {in Italian} by Te Le do Firenze. * Also for a list of public pools in Florence – Visit Florence has you covered! Luckily for us we got a groupon and have been ‘mingling’ with the masses at Bellariva almost every weekend. *Remember that August 15th is Ferragosto – a national holiday that usually involved a very long lunch. Most Italians have theirs at the seaside so expect a lot of closures on this day – and make reservations if you plan to eat out!

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11 Responses

  1. OMG that sausage is huuuuge 😀 hahaha!
    To survive the heat I will definitely escape! In mid-August I’ll go to my parents’ house in Pisa and work from there, where the beach is closer. I hope in some late afternoon (and weekend of course) escapes on the seaside sipping my Corona beer 😛
    You really know a lot of places in Florence, like a real local, while I feel pretty much like a tourist, even though I have my flat here. Boooooooooo! 🙂

    1. That sausage was insane, we should go together one time! Fai bene to go to Pisa, I dream about our little vacation in Sardinia for ferragosto! Ya know what, if you ask me about my hometown (San Antonio, Texas) I really couldn’t tell you much – when you are a stranieri – you have to research more ;-). Plus we all know how much I adore food, wine and adventure!

  2. I had to do some house-hunting almost 2 years ago and curled up into a ball and cried in a corner pretty much every evening until, by luck, something in my budget and not filthy, dark, gross, and/or shameful turned up in the annunci. I feel your pain, good luck! But something will turn up eventually. I truly wonder how some landlords can sleep at night asking the *prices* they do for the dumps they try to rent with ‘fancy’ descriptions. Since I wanted to live by myself and not with housemates, I probably looked at 10-12 places (aside from the seemingly hundreds of ads) before my luck turned.

    1. I feel like that is pretty much how it will be for me as well. I am really not that picky of a person but geezus, I wonder how they could think people would live in some of these ‘luminoso belissimo stupendi’ apartments…

  3. I’m British and I’ve just come back from Florence at the weekend – I didn’t find it too hot at all, love the heat and I didn’t find it overwhelming nor felt the need to hide away in a cool room somewhere! And why come in August? School holidays! Can’t really make the trip we did at any other time of the year.

    1. That’s great for you, this August really hasn’t been that bad save for a few days. I actually have been enjoying the month myself but it is true that many shops and typical stores are closed during this month…

  4. I just came across this post while googling about Florence in August because I can’t get a flight out at the end of the month. Cheapest option would be to extend my lease here, but I’m so hesitant! How did you find being here in August? I feel like it would just be so hot and all of my friends in the city will be gone traveling!

  5. The picture that you posted above of Fiesole, where is this exactly? We are going there in September and would love to visit this spectacular view. Any recommended place for lunch/dinner? Thanks!

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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