After a weekend in Cinque Terre, we called Florence home for the next 6 days. We wanted to root ourselves in one city to really appreciate everything it had to offer. We had planned a one day trip to the Tuscan countryside, but the rest of our time was going to be exploring every nook and cranny of beautiful Florence.
We booked a sunny loft apartment through Airbnb with large windows and a surprisingly extensive art collection. The building used to be a music hall and you can see parts of the walls with a glass protecting the historical frescos behind them. The apartment was just steps from the famous Duomo and piazzas and made getting around really easy.
In no particular order, some our favorite food places:
Eataly: Yes, it is a franchise that exists in the U.S., but this was a perfect place for a morning espresso and fresh juice or evening night cap. The food also looked amazing and everything was very reasonably priced for a gourmet food market / restaurant. Frequented by both tourists and locals alike.
Trattoria Le Mossacce: A true Tuscan restaurant where you can get a hearty Florentine meal. Veal rolls, pork chop (amazing!), and fava beans drenched in olive oil. Loved being surrounded by the rapid Italian and gesturing from a group of elderly locals that obviously frequent the eatery often. They all had their house wine served in their personal bottle reserved for them every time they come in.
Ristorante Boccadama: A great spot for sitting outside with a view of the Santa Croce Church and piazza. Love their tomato bruschetta and pastas.
Il Latini: A little too tourist friendly (there were a lot of us), but the food is good. We liked the appetizers, pastas and fresh side dishes. The meat is popular here, but not as good as Trattoria Le Mossacce.
Mercato Centrale: A trendy and modern market with a variety of gourmet dishes. I noshed on a prosciutto arancini (essentially breaded and fried risotto) and Phil had a pork sandwich on ciabatta with pickled veggies that was surprisingly flavorful. There was pizza, pasta, gelato, and everything else Italiano in different food stalls. Fresh fruit, cheeses, salami, etc. are sold downstairs.
Gusta Pizza: A popular spot with the American study abroad college kids. In the Oltrano district. Pizza is cheap and pretty good. I would recommend the classic Margherita and the spicy sausage pizza.
La Strega Nocciolo: by far the best gelato I’ve had here. It was so good that during our time in Florence, we stopped by this artisanal gelato shop almost every day, sometimes twice a day. It may have also been because this little shop was a block away from our Airbnb.
Gelateria La Carraia: Creamy and flavorful gelato near the Arno River. Great as a post-dinner treat with views of the Ponte Vecchio.
Walk along the Ponte Vecchio. Get the best view of the oldest medieval bridge from Ponte Santa Trinita, preferably at sunset. Check out the jewelry shops along the bridge and notice the old decorated wooden doors that cover the shops when closed. Phil and I were particularly fascinated by these doors and loved the details.
Check out of views of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Hike or drive up to the top. If you choose to walk, go through the heart of the Oltrano neighborhood and check out the artisans at work.
Get the Firenze Card. Seriously. Get it. It may seem pricey (72 euros for 72 hours covering 72 sites) but so worth it for the convenience and avoiding lines. We felt so badass walking pass the line to the front for every site we visited, saving tons of time. Plus, we did the math and the card is really cost effective. Some sites not to miss are the Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’ Academia (to see Michelangelo’s David), the Bargello (sculpture museum), the Duomo / Campanile Bell Tower, and Basilica di San Lorenzo. Some other must sees that we were unable to visit are the Boboli Gardens and Palazzo Pitti.
Galleria dell’ Academia
The cloister garden at San Lorenzo
Stroll through the different piazzas. Preferably in the evening when the crowds die down but the piazzas come alive with music and color.
The piazza at night
Enjoy a post dinner grappa and gelato. Ideally with an awesome view.
Do an urban hike through the city. There are plenty of walking paths that you can find to explore Florence by foot. Check out here and here for some fun itineraries. I feel like you can really see a city if you take your time and walk through it. Phil and I accumulated over 20,000 steps per day trekking through narrow alleys, climbing cobblestone stairways, and crossing medieval bridges (we love our new Fitbits!)
We had an amazing time in Florence! It was the perfect city to end our Europe trip. Ciao for now!