What to see:
- Boboli Gardens
- Gucci Museum – there’s also a cute café.
- Ferragamo Museum – the palace has been in the Ferragamo family since the 1930’s.
- Piazza della Repubblica – there’s a carousel in the middle of the piazza and there are often musicians playing. La Rinascente (our equivalent to Saks Fifth Avenue) is right on the piazza, too.
- The Duomo
- The Uffizi Gallery – the home of Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus.
- Right outside of the gallery is the Piazza della Signoria, which is also worth seeing (this is where the Gucci museum is).
- The Accademia Gallery – the home of Michelangelo’s David sculpture.
- Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
Where to dine:
- Mercato Centrale, via dell’Ariento: eat here or buy fresh ingredients and eat along the Arno river. The first level is a market and the second level has restaurants and eateries.
- Gusta pizza, via Maggio, 46R: if you ask, they may even make your pizza in the shape of a heart!
- Restaurant Winter Garden by Caino in The St. Regis, Piazza Ognissanti, 1: Michelin star, AMAZING.
- La Giostra, Borgo Pinti, 10-18R: By far my favorite. It’s all candle-lit and the food is Michelin star rated — out of this world. Get the pear ravioli : ).
- Sesto on the rooftop of The Westin Excelsior Hotel, Piazza Ognissanti, 3: The view is incredible… the restaurant is enclosed by glass walls and it overlooks the Arno river. Time your dinner with sunset (see photo at the bottom of this post). As a more affordable option, go for Aperitivo (a happy hour-esk time where you buy 1 drink and get access to a buffet of appetizers… I’ve turned this into my dinner before. It’s a fun way to meet up with friends or to try a new place and not spend too much money).
- Trattoria 13 Gobbi, Via del Porcellana, 9R
- Acqua al Due, Via della Vigna Vecchia, 40R: get the filetto al mirtillo – it’s a filet mignon cooked in a blueberry reduction sauce, it sounds weird but it’s SO good.
- Borgo San Jacopo, Borgo S. Jacopo, 62R: a very nice restaurant on the Arno river, their bistecca alla fiorentina is incredible!
- Caffé Cibrèo, Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5R: I loved dining outside while catching up on my journal entries.
- Il Gatto e la Volpe, Via Ghibellina, 151R: get the Penne alla Vodka.
- All’antico Vinaio, Via dei Neri, 74/R: get a panini and eat it at the Arno River.
- La Ménagère, Via de’Gionori, 8: a charming spot for coffee and light bites.
- Venchi Cioccolato, Via calimaruzza, 18: get the chocolate filled cone.
- Gelateria Edoardo, Piazza del Duomo, 45R: they make the cones fresh so they’re warm… so delish!
- Gelateria La Carraia, Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25R: get the cookie flavor.
- La Milkeria, Borgo degli Albizi, 87: their crepes are SO good.
Where to party:
- Red Garter, Via de’ Benci, 33R: their karaoke is a must.
- Kikuya, Via dei Benci, 43R: low key bar with room to sit.
- The Lion’s Fountain, Borgo degli Albizi, 34: dive bar.
- Blue Velvet, Via del Castello D’Altafronte, 16R: club.
- At the end of your night I highly recommend stopping at a secret bakery on your way home…
- Secret Bakery, Via del Canto Rivolto: At around 2 am, secret bakeries start selling (for around 1 Euro) fresh croissants and pastries that they’re baking for local cafés for the following morning. They’re hidden so don’t expect to find a blatant café or bakery (it’s a kitchen behind closed doors) and you need to be quiet or they’ll tell you to leave.
What to do:
- Walk up the Duomo steps.
- Take a cooking class at Il Mercato Centrale.
- Take a painting class. I lived above an art studio and I loved working with Nenad. Private studio time with him is around 30 Euros per hour per person. Via dell’Oriuolo, 17R. tel. 3395775282.
Where to stay:
- An Airbnb on the same side of the river as the Duomo. Location wise, if you’re close to the Duomo or Il Mercato Centrale, then you’ll be in walking distance to everything you would want to do.
- The St. Regis is beyond amazing…
Where to shop:
- Vintage shops:
- Desii Vintage, Via dei Conti, 17
- Street Doing, Via dei Servi, 88/r
- Via de’ Tornabuoni: all the designer stores are around here or on this street.
- Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Via della Scala, 16: One of the oldest pharmacies/ perfumeries in the world.
How to get there:
- Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station
- Florence airport: 30 minutes outside of downtown Florence – so convenient if you can find a flight!
- Pisa airport: there are a lot more flights into Pisa than into Florence and they’re cheaper. There is a bus from the SMN train station in center city Florence (around an hour) to the Pisa airport and it’s very affordable. A private driver could take you as well.
What day trips to take:
- Venice – Need I say more? I went on a day trip, but since it’s a two-hour train away, I’d recommend that you spend the night so you can enjoy your time in Venice.
- Cinque Terre – a string of 5 seaside villages on the Italian Riviera. The train from Florence to La Spezia is two hours (again an overnight may be your best bet), but from there you can train, boat or hike between the villages. I’d recommend hiking between one of the towns and then enjoying an afternoon on the beach.
- Siena – walk around the ancient city and enjoy lunch in the main square, Piazza del Campo.
- Bologna – a beautiful city slightly smaller than Florence, in Emilia Romagna, that’s only 35 minutes by train.
- Lucca – a small city an hour train from Florence. Bustling with churches, piazzas, museums and surrounded by Renaissance-era city walls, it’s a quintessential Tuscan city.
- San Gimignano – a hill town in Tuscany that’s an hour drive from Florence. It’s worth visiting while you’re exploring the Tuscan countryside.
- Tuscan countryside – either drive through and explore the rolling hills on your own, or organize car transportation to take you to a vineyard for a Tuscan wine tasting and lunch.
Ciao!! Safe travels xx