Florence is by far one of my favorite cities in Europe. The feeling of romance you have walking through the streets is hard to describe but for those who have been there, easy to understand. Not to mention the delicious food, beautiful architecture, and endless number of things to do in or around the city! Below is a list of my suggested must-sees to help simplify your itinerary.
Buy Some Leather
For those of you who like to buy finer things at a lower price. Florence is well-known as the home of the world’s top leather craftsmanship. If you do your research and know where to look, you could end up with some very high-end souvenirs. There are several markets and boutiques throughout the city that offer a variety of leather goods. A few of the more popular areas to look for are: Mercato Nuovo, San Lorenzo Market (find Giorgio 1966!), Benheart, Casini Firenze.
Pro-tip: make sure to look for “full-grain” or “top-grain” leather. Most products will have “genuine leather” stamped on the inside but this is actually not the highest quality.
Relax in the Boboli Gardens
On the other side of the Arno River, you will find Giardino di Boboli, a beautiful, English style garden on the hillside behind the Pitti Palace. This is a great place to relax and enjoy the greener side of Florence. I suggest stopping at a local market on the way, picking up a few picnic goods, and taking your time. We spent a few hours here exploring the paths, snapping pictures of the greenery, and lounging in the shade.
Eat at Mangia Pizza
This place is the jam. Trust me. One of the best pizzas I have ever had. Mangia Pizza is an intimate spot located just a couple of blocks from the Ponte Vecchio. All of the pizzas are made right in front of you with fresh ingredients, then put in a slow-turning oven for the perfect bake.We ordered two pizzas paired with a couple of beers on tap and declared it the best meal we had in the city.
Climb the Duomo
If you’re looking for the most iconic photo op of Florence, then head straight to the Duomo. Florence’s cupola has been reaching high above the city for hundreds of years and takes 463 steps to get to the top. That being stated, this climb is not for those who are scared of heights- we were not expecting the tight, steep journey it entailed. But don’t worry, it is SO worth it: you are able to go inside the dome, giving you a chance to view the impressive ceiling murals close-up before experiencing 360 degree panoramas of the city.
Pro tip: Make sure to purchase tickets far in advance, as it is frequently sold out.
Watch the Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
In my opinion, it is an absolute must to see the sun setting over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo! Try to get there with enough time to take some before and after pictures of the sunset- you will also want to locate a good spot among the crowd. To reach the top, you can either take the hike, catch the bus, or hire a cab. My suggestion? Do the hike! Its free and you’ll have the chance to explore the area of San Niccolò, an art district with great restaurants and wine bars. It is located right below the Piazzale next to the Arno River.
Pro tip: If you are willing to take a few extra steps, there is a church called Chiesa di San Salvatore al Monte that sits higher than the Piazzale Michelangelo. It still offers great views of the city with a lot less people around.
Have a Home-Cooked Meal
Whether you have the ability to cook “at home” or you need to take a class, I highly recommend sampling the local food the old school way. A home-cooked meal is the best route for tasting and appreciating the local products and flavors of the region. Pasta classes are definitely the most popular– because why wouldn’t you want to learn cooking secrets from a master chef?! In my eyes, spending some time learning how to cook, eating amazing food, and meeting new people is one of the best ways to learn the culture of any country.
Go to the Mercato Centrale
Located inside the San Lorenzo Market, this closed food market is perfectly positioned in the center of Florence. You will get the chance to see and even buy the freshest products while also being able to taste whatever catches your attention! The top floor even has bars and food stalls that you can wander through to pick whichever food you’d like while relaxing with a drink. It is a great place to get off your feet and people watch while trying a bunch of different foods.
Take a Day Trip to Tuscany
It may seem weird that the last thing I suggest to do in Florence is to leave the city! However, it is so worth it to get outside and explore the countryside. If you don’t feel like renting a car, there are numerous tours from Florence that will take you through Tuscany. You will get a chance to experience stunning views, taste local wines, and learn the region’s long history.
Pro tip: if you like to travel on a budget then you’ll love adventuring with Italy on a Budget tours. For this experience, I suggest taking the Grape Escape wine tour.
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