Fun + Lifestyle

Frugality or Luxury: Florence for the Associate or the Partner

  • No matter which type of lawyer vacation you’re able to take, Florence has something for you
  • Florence is all about art and beautiful architecture, so there’s much to see without breaking the bank
  • Luxurious Florence gives you many opportunities to eat like you’ve never eaten before

No matter what level you’ve reached in your law career, you deserve a relaxing vacation.

Once you confirm the time off, it’s time to decide just how much you’re able to spend. Are you able to spend at the height of luxury, or do you have to be frugal? No matter which type of lawyer vacation you’re able to take, Florence has something for you. The city is rich in art and history and is simply a beautiful place to be.

The Frugal Associate

No matter how much you make in your position in your first few years as a lawyer, you’re likely going to be paying off law school loans for several years. That means you won’t have a huge amount left over every month to save up for a fancy vacay—but not having a huge amount doesn’t mean you can’t travel, and travel well. Sure, you’ll need to figure out how to stay connected to the office for part of your vacation—hopefully not for too much of it—but you’ll still be able to enjoy yourself while sticking to your budget.

When to Travel: You’ll find prices lower and tourists less plentiful if you visit Florence in the winter. Since many of the best things to see in Florence are indoors, the temperature doesn’t matter much—but the winters usually aren’t very extreme, so you shouldn’t be too uncomfortable walking around a bit.

Accommodations for the Lawyer on a Budget: Hotels at the outer regions of the city are less expensive but you may want to pay a bit more for the convenience of being in the city center. Florence is full of hostels of every kind, from dorm style to more private offerings. Check out the Villa Camerata, which is housed in a 15th century building in a green park, if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom. Try Cross-Pollinate, a travel company that helps people book non-hotel stays at places from small bed and breakfasts to private apartments to spare rooms, including plenty of budget-friendly options.

An important feature of any place you’ll stay will be wi-fi access. The chances that you’ll escape working while on your vacation are exceedingly low, so you’ll need reliable internet, possibly for a few hours at a time for a few days, and the ability to send and receive emails every day for the rest of the your time away from the office. Wi-fi access is free in almost any place you’ll stay, but unfortunately, Italy is known for having an internet connection that can be shaky and slow. You will find the strongest, fastest connection at bars, restaurants, and hotels in the city, and a worsening connection as you go into more rural areas. Your best bet for a stable connection is to purchase a portable wi-fi router, which will allow you to connect multiple devices to it and will provide a stable connection without requiring a SIM card for your phone.

Getting Around: Florence is small and easily walkable, but it’s also full of reasonably priced buses and trams—a one-way ticket will cost around $1.70. Taxis are expensive, so avoid them unless you really need one to get to and from the airport. From the central railroad station Stazione Centrale di Santa Maria Novella, you can reach the airport and catch buses to neighboring cities. The city is a pleasure to see by bike, and the bike-sharing app MoBike makes that even easier for very little money.

Things to Do on an Associate Budget: Florence is all about art and beautiful architecture, so there’s much to see without breaking the bank:

  • If you’re able to visit the city on the first Sunday of the month, you can enter any state museum for free. That means seeing Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia and breathtaking sculptures at the National Museum of Bargello for nothing, but expect long lines. To get the biggest bang for your buck, purchase the Firenzecard, which costs 72 euros and allows entrance to 72 museums in 72 hours. It also gives you priority entrance at several popular attractions and includes public transport.
  • The Florence Free Tour is a free walking tour and a great way to see and learn about the city. Just don’t forget to generously tip your guide. When wandering on your own, keep an eye out for the street art all around the city—modified stop signs, wooden sculptures, paintings, and more.
  • If you’re in Florence during the warmer months, there’s plenty of free stuff to do and enjoy outdoors. Enjoy film screenings in August, visual art and dancers organized by the Florence Open Art Project at a square called Le Murate in August and September, and free concerts at various locations through September and October. When it’s really hot, head to the Piscina Costoli, a public pool with reduced admission after 3pm for only 5 euros. Or hang out on the banks of the Arno river at the Spiaggia sull’Arno, a free beach with lounge chairs, volleyball nets, and bocce courts. There are even DJ sets at night and free yoga on Wednesdays.
  • If you need to get an hour or two of work done but want to enjoy the outdoors a bit, popular picnic spots like Piazzale delle Cascine provide hotspots. You can also visit the famous Oblate Library to use their internet and find a quieter space to work and a location more appropriate for phone calls. The library also includes a rooftop café where you can indulge in a low-priced drink while enjoying an amazing rooftop view.
  • In Largo Pietro Annigoni, you’ll find a daily flea market called Le Pulce full of vintage wares. They can be pricey but part of the fun is looking for a bargain.
  • When it comes to nightlife, The Tasso Hotel attracts artists, musicians, poets, and other creative types. There’s a bar, garden area, and stage. There are events on weekend nights and an open-mic night every first Wednesday of the month.

What to Eat Without Spending Too Much: You’re in ITALY! That means good eating. Like many tourist-heavy areas, there are plenty of low-quality and expensive restaurants, so check out some food bloggers to know which places to avoid.

  • Florence is the birthplace of gelato, so go ahead and indulge every day if you want. Walks of Italy, a walking tour company, lists where to find the best gelato on their website to help you avoid the low-quality, inauthentic stuff that tourists who aren’t in the know end up eating.
  • City-run food markets and simple tavern-style dining places called osterie is where you can find fresh, seasonal, and authentic Tuscan fare for affordable prices.
  • Bar-hop in the evenings to enjoy as many aperitivos as you can. An aperitivois the Italian version of happy hour that starts around 7pm and ends around 9pm. (Some will begin and end earlier.) Most restaurants provide free snacks or small plates of meats, cheeses, and breads to encourage people to stick around and buy more drinks. You can make a meal out of a few stops and call it dinner. Start with Odeon Bistro, a popular spot that includes a buffet and starts their aperitivo as early as 5pm.
  • Have your sit-down meal at lunch to eat authentic Italian food that would cost more at dinner. Try Trattoria Mario or Il Chicco di Caffè for pappa al pomodoro (bread and tomato soup) or pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans).
  • Experience Florence like a local by stopping by the Sant’Ambrogio Market in Piazza Ghiberti to grab seasonal fruits and veggies. You’ll also find one of the best panini places here, called Semel.

The Luxurious Partner

At this point in your law career, you’ve likely paid off all those law school loans you sweated over for several years. You have enough extra cash to truly treat yourself and take the kind of vacation that someone who works as hard as you do deserves: luxurious, long, and with little interruption from the office. Florence is the perfect place to enjoy luxury and beauty if you can afford the best.

When You Travel Doesn’t Matter: May through September is considered the peak season in Florence. The warm weather means you’ll get to enjoy art and music festivals as well as the open-air dining we all think of when we think of Italy. The drawback is usually the crowds and the expense—but we’re not worrying about expense for this trip!

Accommodations for the Well-Heeled Lawyer: The place to really lean into the luxury of the partner bucks you’re able to spend is with your hotel. The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is the height of luxury: It boasts the city’s biggest private garden; frescoe-walled suites with opulent, original architectural features; and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Or try the Palazzo Vecchietti, housed in a 16th-century townhouse with a three-story courtyard atrium and designer Michele Bonan’s classic-modern vision for the rooms.

Any high-end spot you choose will have a decent internet connection, so if you need to get some work out of the way for an hour or two, you’ll be able to do so. You’re experienced enough in your career to know that enjoying a vacation with little interruption from the office means plenty of preparation before the actual trip, so you most likely won’t have to worry about working for most of your time away.

Getting Around: Florence is a walkable city, so you simply won’t need to spend much on transportation. The city is known for its expensive taxis; go ahead and take one if you like, but you probably won’t need to.

Things to Do with Those Partner Bucks: If you’re looking for luxury experiences, you’re in the right place.

  • Found in the Santa Croce monastery, the Scuola del Cuoio (School of Leather) looks like a workshop from the Renaissance. During your tour, you can watch these artisans make leather goods by hand or book a private lesson with the Master Craftsman.
  • Perfume shops abound in Florence, and The Master Perfumer of Aquaflor runs perfume masterclasses where you’ll learn all about perfume making and make your own scent.
  • Shopping should be a big part of your Florence experience, and there’s no brand more iconic than Gucci. The Gucci Museum includes both temporary art exhibitions and permanent displays of iconic Gucci designs. The Icon Store is the only place in the world to buy certain limited-edition Gucci pieces.
  • Avoid the lines at popular art attractions by buying skip-the-line passes for every museum that offers them. Visit the Uffizi Gallery to see masterpieces by Botticelli and Michelangelo, the Galleria dell’Accademia to see the famous David, and the many other places you can go to see legendary pieces and beautiful architecture.
  • Walks of Italy can guide you around the city and give you a perspective that comes only with local knowledge. You can tailor your tour to your interests and group size.
  • Even if you don’t stay at the Four Seasons Hotel, check out its spa, which has been rated as the best in Florence and uses a special range of natural products from the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the oldest pharmacy in the city.

What to Eat on a Partner’s Salary: You’re not only in food-centric Italy, but in luxurious Florence, with its many opportunities to eat like you’ve never eaten before.

  • Enoteca Pinchiorri is a three-Michelin-starred establishment run by a French chef and Italian sommelier. This unique restaurant focuses on a single ingredient prepared different ways, and is known for their stellar wine collection.
  • Il Santo Bevitore boasts a locally sourced menu that changes seasonally. Famous guests include actresses Jessica Alba and Monica Bellucci, and film director Bernardo Bertolucci.
  • Indulge in a snack at Procacci, an elegant delicatessen that has served Florentines since the 19th
  • Of course, you must have plenty of gelato while in Florence. Vivoli is one of the most famous and expensive gelaterie in the city. They make all gelato fresh daily, and change the flavors, such as pear with caramel and chocolate with orange, often.
  • Remember, just because money is no object doesn’t mean that you should skip free and inexpensive ways to experience Florence like a local. Don’t neglect to scoop up fresh fruits and veggies, as well as delicious street food, at the Sant’Ambrogio Market in Piazza Ghiberti. And don’t miss out on bar-hopping to enjoy aperitivos.