Florence is perhaps one of the most wanted, visited and talked about places in Italy. Some may even say, “If you haven’t been to Florence, you haven’t seen Italy”. Even if you are not able to dive into the local Italian lifestyle as the city is overcrowded with tourists and foreign students, still it has its charm and spirit and you’ll feel it. Uffizi gallery, Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, Pitti Palace, Ponte Vecchio and especially piazzale Michelangelo on the top of the heel which is perfect for you sunset view, all these masterpieces are beautiful when seen both the first and the tenth time.
You know what I’ve noticed? Every building in this city has a particular smell so that all the streets are united with it. So as soon as you step out from a plane or a train, you know that you are in Florence.
When I return to Florence, I already have a “schedule” in my head and I know where I’m going today and tomorrow for breakfast, lunch, dinner, an aperitif, where I’ll take a walk, with whom I will meet and drink a glass of Prosecco, for example, in Piazza della Signoria in Gucci Museo restaurant. And oh, do not forget to leave some place for the favorite ice-cream with the taste of pistachio or zabaione, in gelateria Dei Neri in via dei Neri or in gelateria Santa Trinita in Piazza Frescobaldi, right after the Santa Trinita Bridge.
Let’s plan step by step.
Consider that the hotels in Florence have high prices due to incredibly high demand, so to save money, look at places around Sant’Ambrogio market. It is not far from the Piazza Repubblica and still an attractive zone. You can also consider staying at a nearby city like I did once staying in Prato.
Morning coffee in Chiaroscuro cafe
In the morning take a good cup of coffee in a tiny but popular place where I’ve met Tom Hanks while he was filming Inferno in Florence. Chiaroscuro cafe in via del Corso, right behind the main square was my favorite place with a really tasty cappuccino and croissants. You can grab some salted food there as well.
Try to manage to visit the main sightseeings in one day – Duomo and Uffizi (pay 4 euros more and book the tickets online to avoid terrible lines). And after that take walk through Ponte Vecchio towards Piazzale Michelangelo to spend there some time in the evening. If you are traveling in Florence in summer, grab a bottle of wine which will suit perfectly your sunset admiring.
I would not stop for a long lunch but would choose a fantastic snack at “i Fratellini” in via de ‘Cimatori or L’Antico Vinaio on via de’ Neri. Good, big panini is what we need!
It’s dinner time!
There is one special restaurant in Florence called la Giostra in via Borgo Pinti, 10. You would never find it, because it is out of usual touristic itineraries, but it located 5 minutes before the Sant’Ambrogio market. It is a higher level restaurant than a trattoria, with a fantastic cozy interior, huge choice of wines and such a delicious food!
In addition to the delicious food and well-done interior, the owner is a prince. Yes, yes, the prince Soldano! He is a very characteristic person, who loves motorbikes, has tonnes of bracelets on both hands and a bulk of keys on the belt. Always! No suites, no official stuff. So the atmosphere is totally easy. Moreover, the restaurant, probably, has been already visited by most the Italian and European celebrities, who’ve visited Florence. The walls are covered with pictures of American actors and other famous figures hugging the owner, with the shelves full of wine and heralds decoration all over the restaurant. All this creates a unique romantic atmosphere.
Try it and you will not regret it. Once I’ve recommended it to my close friends who were in Tuscany for their honeymoon. The first week of their marriage they celebrated in La Giostra. They sincerely thanked me for my advice!
It’s all about walking
On the second day I suggest that you to get lost in Florence’s historic center. Walk around and visit small local shops. Take via del Corso and after that Borgo degli Albizi, have a care look to the left and to the right, turn to the right towards Santa Croce church, later reach the Sant’Ambrogio market located in Piazza Ghiberti, just a bit further out of the center than Piazza Santa Croce (and about a 12 minute walk from Piazza del Duomo). I prefer this market to Mercato Centrale as is it is twice emptier and you can calmly see and taste everything and of course buy the best souvenirs!
As for food, do you know the best pizza in Florence? I’ll tell you! Go to il Pizzaiuolo in via dei Macci, 113r. Love it!