Every city has tourist traps that locals avoid like the plague. Florence has many. If you’re heading to Florence this summer, you’re likely to encounter one (or all) of the following tourist traps. Stay on top of your game, and don’t give in when tempted.
Just about all Italian pizza is better than what we have here in the States. But don’t let that make you fine with settling for what Italians would consider mediocre pizza. You’ll walk by a number of storefronts and restaurants that have pre-cooked sheets of pizza in the windows. Many tourists buy these while walking around, but avoid them! The convenience factor might be nice, but Go to Gusta Pizza! They’ll literally cook your pizza from scratch in about 2 minutes.
Be friendly. Ask a stranger to take a picture of you. There are sooo many selfie stick salesmen around Florence who will constantly be shoving them in your face. We would literally have them try to sell them to us when we were using a nice DSLR camera. These guys are persistent, so be assertive and tell them no thank you.
If a person or group of people approach you while you’re buying a train ticket, using an ATM, in a line, etc. be alert. There is about a 1000% chance that someone “helping” you buy a train ticket is actually setting up one of his or her buddies to pick your wallet out of your pocket. Pay attention to your belongings on trains and in large crowds as well.
Gelato should never look icy. It should never be stacked up 2 feet tall. It should look rich, creamy, and fresh. Many of the touristy trap gelato stores (especially near the center) stack up gelato in an attempt to make it appear fancy and unique. However, you’re going to be disappointed if you give in to these stores. Go to Gelateria de Medici or La Carraia for the best gelato of your life. You will absolutely never see it piled up high at either of these places because 1) they make it fresh every day and 2) it sells quickly.
As you walk around Florence (especially at night), you’ll see guys spread throughout the city launching light up toys into the sky, shining lights on the ground, and doing everything in their power to get you to pay attention to what they’re trying to sell. The second you look at them or seem at all intrigued by their toy, they’re going to be on you like hawks. So do your best to both avoid purchasing these toys, as well as ignore the people selling them.
Every street corner seemingly has a kiosk or a store with souvenirs ranging from mini statues of David to magnets, pens, t-shirts, etc. Your best souvenirs will be pictures and memories. Don’t fall for these traps that simply add weight to your suitcase while subtracting weight from your wallet.
Every major city seems to have homeless people. Florence has both homeless people as well as gypsies. Most tourists, however, aren’t familiar with the difference. Your best bet with gypsies is to simply ignore them. If they becoming quite persistent, just yell, “No. Basta!” This means, “No. Stop!” in Italian.
After reading this blog you’ll probably laugh to yourself as you encounter these tourist traps in Florence. Just remember to be assertive and save your money. Spend your money on the experience, on the delicious food, and on the world’s best wine. After all, do you really need trinkets taking up space in your luggage?