Magento conference season is starting and we definitely hope you are joining us for MageTestFest, one of the more curious developer events out there. It takes place early March in Florence. But not everybody is willing to spend lots of money for a conference. So here is a blog to help you go to MageTestFest on a budget.
Getting to Florence by plane
First of all, flights directly into Florence (Italy) can get expensive. It is convenient because the airport is only a 30 minute train ride from the center. However, there are other cities as well with airportts - Bologna, Pisa, Siena, Arezzo - from where you can hop on a train and arrive in Florence about an hour later. This might safe you 50 to 100 Euro while costing you only 30 minutes extra travelling time.
Still, it also pays off to check flights regularly, because prices vary. And book early, because the longer you wait the more expensive tickets become.
Getting to Florence by other means
Instead of a flight, you might also consider take a long-distance bus (like Flixbus) or drive. Part of the Yireo team is driving from The Netherlands all the way to Italy (14 hours) which is a long ride, but it gives flexibility and is cheaper (considering that we need to travel around quite a bit in Florence, plus we need to bring stuff).
I personally can also recommend cycling to Florence. In the past, I rode from The Netherlands to Barcelona, which was a wunderful experience. Part of the route is also the same as the Santiago de Compestela pilgrimage route. Take a right to go on a spiritual journey. Take a left to learn about testing with friends.
Staying in Florence downtown is expensive
Florence has a beautiful historic center, which is well worth visiting. The main conference day of MageTestFest will be held right in the center, just a stroll from the main square with the Duomo and old Ponte Vecchio bridge. But staying inside the old center is expensive.
Go where the budget travellers go
The workshops and hackathon take place at The Student Hotel, which - as the name seems to suggest - also offers accomodation. Similarly, Hostel Tasso also provides cheap accomodation. And we are trying to get the after-party organized in precisely that location.
Get accomodation outside of the center
As soon as you move away from the city center, prices drop. We personally are renting chalets at the Camping Firenze (only via booking.com) but there are numerous options via Booking.com or AirBnb. Public transport is good in Florence (with buses, some trams and local trains). And if you are staying close to the river, cycling is also doable. (Yes, yes, I bring my bike! Because I'm Dutch!)
Again, the city center itself is sometimes ridiculously expensive. As soon as you are picking a restaurant with English menu and view on the Duomo, expect to pay for it. However, in small alleys, there will still be bars with great food. And immediately, outside of the city center, prices become normal again.
MageTestFest is affordable
Summing up, MageTestFest takes place in Florence, which is not the cheapest city in the world. But it is also not the most expensive. And if you simply make a planning of it, you can easily stay below 50 Euro per day (including accomodation and food), excluding the costs of MageTestFest.
Adding to this that MageTestFest focuses on a topic - testing - which prevents bug, which prevents wasting time on projects that should be finished already, going to this developer conference is simply a financial investment that pays off.