Florence, Italy

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Getting There

  • Airport – Aeroporto di Firenze Peretola (FLR)
  • Currency – Euro (€)
  • Official Languages – Italian
  • Population – 362,000
  • Food of Choice – Handmade Pasta
  • Drink of Choice– Wine (Chianti, Sangiovese)

 

Welcome to Florence!

Nestled among the hills of Tuscany, Florence offers a rich and diverse history that makes it the perfect Italian getaway. Having blossomed during the Renaissance, Florence is a city made for art and food lovers alike, and if you find yourself spending some time in this charming town, here are some recommendations you should be sure not to miss!

Florence, or Firenze, is located in the Toscana region of Italy. Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and is home to some of the most beautiful works of art in the world. The Medici family is responsible for this golden age and their legacy lives on today in many aspects of Florentine culture.

 

Packing

Before departing for Florence, make sure you have your passport, some Euros in your wallet and a three-prong converter for your electronics. Since most of Florence’s architecture is relatively old, their power outlets tend to vary in shapes, so bringing a universal adapter is your best bet.

 

Language & Weather

If you happen to leave your Italian dictionary at home, have no fear for the majority of Florentines speak English. You may want to stack up on books and movies for the flight since it’s about 8 hours to a European hub airport such as Zurich or Brussels and then another hour flight to Florence.

When packing, you’re going to want to be prepared for any type of weather. You can expect the unexpected in Italy, from 80 degrees and sunny to 50 degrees and rainy, so come prepared. But most importantly, bring comfortable walking shoes! Florence is a small enough city that you can walk anywhere. Taxis are hard to come by, and can often be unreliable so your best bet is your own two feet. And make sure not to forget your camera! Located on the Arno River, Florence is filled with amazing sites worthy of an Instagram post.

 

Airports

  • Florence Airport, Peretola (FLR)
    • The main airport located only 2.5 miles from the city center in the outskirts of Florence
    • This airport is very small and flights to this airport can be more expensive
  • Galileo Galilei Airport
    • Located in Pisa, Italy and is the main airport of the entire Tuscan region
    • Flights from this airport are less expensive than flights to Peretola, and a simple bus ticket can be purchased from bus companies such as Terravision, to take you from Galileo Galilei Airport to Florence, Italy.
    • Terravision bus tickets can be bought for 5 Euros at Galileo Galilei Airport and in a short 60-minute bus ride you will arrive at Santa Maria Novella Train Station in Florence, Italy


Activities

 

Scroll down for our top activities. Here’s a clickable summary to skip to an activity of choice:

 

Florence is such a beautiful city that it is crucial to take the time to walk around and see it all. Make sure to observe the narrow streets and the terracotta shingles on houses, along with the various statues in the piazzas, and the killer shopping scattered throughout. Furthermore, the city is filled with sights that are not worth missing. Florence holds two of the world’s most renowned renaissance museums, housing some of the most famous art of the era that has transcended to influence art today.

 

1) Arno River Tour

Going on water tour is a great way to see the city. You can experience a 1 hour Florence boat ride in a traditional barchetto. This costs about 40 Euros and is a great way to explore the city by river as opposed to on foot.

Arno River Tour

 

2) Florentine Sunsets

Don’t miss out on the most unreal sunset in all of Florence. This sunset triumphs over the typical sunset spots with its amazing reflection on the Arno river. This is an experience you need to have. On almost any given night, especially when it starts to get warm, walk one bridge past the Ponte Vecchio and just find a spot to watch as the magic takes over.

Florence

 

3) Explore the Piazzas

Hanging out in the piazzas is always a good time. At night, many locals grab a bottle of wine or a pack of beers and hang out in Piazza Santo Spirito or Piazza Santa Croce. The piazzas are fun areas to socialize and meet new people.

Piazza Santo Spirito

 

4) Visit The Uffizi

This is the largest, most spectacular museum in Florence. Once a palace, the Uffizi houses art by famous artists including Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. The Uffizi Gallery is located in Piazza dellaSignoria and is one of the most famous museums in the world. Uffizi is home to thousands of famous works of art from the Italian Renaissance including “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli and “Madonna and Child” by Filippo Lippi. The Uffizi tends to have very long lines, so plan accordingly and reserve your tickets online. The museum overlooks the Arno River that runs through the center of the city. As a perk, tickets are only 8 Euros, so it is definitely worth your bang for the buck.

Visit The Uffizi

 

5) See The David at The Galleria dell’Accademia

Housing the most famous statue of the Renaissance, the Galleria dell’Accademia is a small, but well established museum. The main attraction is The David sculpted by Michelangelo. It’s a breathtaking piece of art and if that’s not worth another 8 euros, I don’t know what is! If you aren’t into art museums but still love the culture, check out the Gucci Museum in Piazza dellaSignoria where all of the past Gucci collections are on display.

David by Michaelangelo, Galleria dell'Accademia, florence italy travel

 

6) Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo is a small piazza located on the Oltrarno. It is up a set of stairs so make sure you have on your walking shoes, but once you get to the top the walk is definitely worth it. Because it is set on the side of a mountain, the piazza overlooks the whole city landscape. There are usually musicians playing, and there are gelato stands up there as well. And if you are feeling really adventurous, make the trek at sunset and bring a bottle of wine. A view that good deserves a toast as the sun goes down.

Plan for sunset and climb to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo with a trusted bottle of red wine (I suggest Chianti Classico). Make sure to give yourself enough time to reach the top and grab a seat on the steps before the sun actually begins to set. The climb takes about 10-15 minutes and it can be a bit crowded. After you find a seat, open your bottle of wine, listen to the live music, and take in the amazing views that are surrounding you.

Piazzale Michelangelo florence italy travel

 

7) The Duomo

While on the topic of views, climbing the cupola of the Duomo or the bell tower of the Duomo is a must. Located in the heart of the city, the Duomo stands as the largest building in Florence. For only a small fee of 15 euros, your ticket will allow you to access the bell tower, the cupola, and the basilica of the Duomo within 24 hours. Once you make the hike again up to the top of either the bell tower or the cupola you’ll have a 360-degree view of the whole city. Talk about breathtaking!

The Duomo is Florence’s most famous cathedral. Construction began in 1296 but wasn’t finished until 1436 by Filippo Brunelleschi. The Duomo allows for an exceptional view of Florence after the 436 step climb to the top. Tickets for the Duomo can be purchased for 10 Euro and can not be purchased online. The Duomo is notorious for having extremely long lines, but try going early in the morning for less of a crowd.

The Duomo

 

8) Visit Boboli Gardens

The garden is located behind Pitti Palace and is a beautiful display of
the royal families from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Boboli is more than just a garden and embodies the beauty of the Tuscan region. Tickets to enter Boboli are 7 Euros and you should plan to spend a few hours walking around the mystical park or just relaxing on the grass.

Visit Boboli Gardens florence italy travel

 

9) Visit Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale is the main marketplace in Florence. Full of fresh produce, meats, and cheeses it’s the place to go for some of the best products in the world. Do your grocery shopping here, or venture to the second floor where there is a food court unlike any other. The food court is open all day and serves various Florentine delicacies from fresh pasta to hamburgers made from Chianina meat.

 

10) Check out the Churches

In addition to the amazing culture of Florence, the city is also filled with a rich history. There are numerous churches all around Florence, each with ornate illustrations that were done by various artists. No matter what church you walk into, Santa Croce, il Duomo, San Miniato, Santo Spirito, or any other you stumble across, you will be amazed. So while you’re walking down the street, eating your gelato, make sure you look out for various churches and try to pop into a few.


Food

 

Food in Florence

Where to begin? Florence is a foodie’s dream. From pasta to pizza and meat and cheese, you will rarely come across a meal that you do not like. Florence is particularly known for Florentine steak, which comes in a very large portion, is cooked with rosemary and various other spices until it’s perfectly pink. Definitely a must-try while there. Make sure you bring pants with an elastic waistband because the only way to do Florence right, is to eat your way through the city.

 

Traditional Foods of the Florentine Region

  • Bisteccaalla Fiorentina: Otherwise known as Florentine Steak, this steak is a must have if you’re visiting Florence. A T-bone steak, made from the meat of the Chianina breed cattle, the Florentine Steak is a tender cut of meat that will exceed your expectations.
  • Pappardelle al Cianghiale: Fresh wide ribbon pasta with Wild Boar Sauce. This dish is similar to a classic Bolognese, except it is made from the meat of the Wild Boar. Wild Boars are very typical of the Tuscan region, where the dish originates.
  • Pappa al Pomodoro: Pappa al Pomodoro is a thick Tuscan soup, originating as a peasant food. Typically, it is prepared with fresh tomatoes, stale bread, olive oil, garlic, and basil
  • Lampredotto: Lampredotto, a popular and exclusively Florentine dish, is the edible lining of a cow’s stomach. Lampredotto is a Florentine street food and the best places to try it are at food stands around the city. Lampredotto is slow cooked for many hours with water, tomato, onion, carrot, parsley, and celery. It is then served as a sandwich, or panini, with a green sauce which consists of parsley, garlic, and anchovies.

 

Favorite Places to Eat

  • All’Antico Vinaio: The best sandwich shop in all of Florence. Located on Via deiNeri, All’ AnticoVinaio is a quaint shop that gives you amazing food at a great price. For 5 Euro you will receive the best sandwich you have ever eaten. The meats are amazing, I would definitely suggest the Porchetta, as are the various toppings. Beware, it is very crowded and a small space. The staff is friendly and it’s a great place to practice your Italian,
    • Recommended Panino Order: Porchetta, Pecorino Spread, Sun-dried tomato spread, melanzane (eggplant), zucchini, salad, oil, balsamic vinegar
  • Semel: Semel is a hole in the wall sandwich shop, that is very popular with the locals. Semel is located right by Sant’Ambrogio market, and could easily be missed if you don’t look carefully. Semel offers a delicious variety of unique sandwiches, especially for the adventurous eater. For an authentic Italian experience, go to this place.
  • Il Santo Bevitore: This restaurant can be found across with Arno River, in the slightly less touristy area of Florence. The food is fresh, the menu has variety, and the ambiance is spot on. The dining room is made completely out of dark, rich wood and the lighting is dimmed for a more romantic feel. If you are visiting Florence, make time for this restaurant!
  • Vivanda Gastronomia: This organic restaurant is a hole in the wall, that is known for their fresh pasta. The menu is interesting and offers variation from most other restaurants in Florence. Vivanda Gastronomia is located in Piazza Santo Spirito and is a popular spot with the locals.
  • Gusta Pizza
    • The most well-known pizza in Florence is from Gusta Pizza. With fresh tomatoes and chunks of mozzarella, this pizza is an unforgettable experience. Although there is limited indoor seating, take your pizza to go, and sit on the steps of Santo Spirito Church with a bottle of wine.

 

Favorite Pasta Places

  • Bucca Mario: a restaurant located in a vault underground
  • Gargani: with walls painted a rich royal blue, it is impossible to forget to eat at such a unique restaurant
  • Osteria Santo Spirito: known for their incredible truffle gnocchi
  • Trattoria La Casalinga: amazing place that we loved

Secret Bakeries

 

“Secret Bakeries” are a Florentine favorite. These bakeries are unmarked and are open in the early hours of the morning, around 2:00 a.m., so they are the perfect after-bar snack. Most of the bakeries serve freshly baked Nutella stuffed croissants and they are delicious. The bakeries are technically not legally registered so you just have to find them by exploring or word of mouth.


More!

 

Wine

Located in Tuscany, Florence has the unique benefit of having access to its own local wine. Chianti in Florence pairs well with any meal, and you will rarely find a bad bottle, but you will be able to find a cheap bottle, and sometimes those are the best ones.

In addition, while it is obvious that Italy is known for wine, in the Tuscan region, Sangiovese is also a specialty. Although it’s on the sweeter side, it is smooth and pairs well with a delicious meat and cheese plate.

 

Fashion

Also known for its leather, Florence is lined with small shops filled with the softest leather goods you can find. Make sure to pick up a bag, jacket, or at least a small leather bracelet in any of the various shops along the streets.

The main leather market is located outside the Mercato Centrale, which is also crucial not to miss. It is the largest indoor market in Florence and houses both the restaurants on the top floor and an extensive grocery market containing the freshest produce from the region.

 

The Famous Bronze Boar!

Visit The Piazza del Mercato Nuovo and rub the snout of Il Porcellino (Italian “piglet”), the local Florentine nickname for the bronze fountain of a boar. It’s a symbol for good luck.



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