Florence would have to be one of my favourite cities I’ve visited and continually return to, not just because of the insanely good food, gorgeous architecture and endless winding streets, but my father and brothers live there. As with all things Italy, the best thing to do is to wonder/get lost in the Renaissance streets and remember, make good choices.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR
- Any time is great but before or after the peak of summer is ideal (May and September).
HOW TO GET THERE
- Fly direct from London to Florence airport from around £130 return depending on when you book.
- Cheaper alternative – Fly to Bologna/Pisa and get the train to Florence.
WHERE TO STAY
- In the centre of the city near Santa Maria Novella.
- David – There are 3 replicas of David around Florence. The real one is in the Accademia Gallery if you want to see him however, the replicas are just as good (my mother will kill me if she reads that comment).
- Uffizi Gallery – You can’t go to Florence and not go to the Uffizi. Get the tour guided ticket, skip the queue and be done in 1.5hours.
- Boboli Gardens – If you have time take a wander around the Boboli gardens for a break from the concrete overload in the city.
- Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) – the only bridge that was not destroyed during WW2. Beautiful bridge with some of the most famous ring makers in Florence.
- The Duomo – You can’t miss the biggest building in Florence. It takes your breath away how they built something so massive in the 1400s. You can climb to the top of the dome to get 360 views of the city but it is a little tight (if you are claustrophobic) and physically demanding but totally worth it. TIP – Get there early morning.
- Beauty products at Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella – Started in the 16th century this beautiful old building is an attraction on its own. You can find beauty products for men, women, teas, liquor and perfumes all made by the
BEST VIEWS/INSTAGRAM OPS
- Top of the Duomo and Bell Tower
- Piazzale Michelago – head up around sunset
- Level 5 of the Intercontinental Hotel.
- A secret spot near the Duomo – contact me for information on how to get there.
- La Menagere is so cute and lovely for a lunch or dinner (great for Instagram)
- San Lorenzo Food Market – sit down and sample the local produce in this renovated food market.
Traditional Schiacciata (sandwich)
- All’Antico Vinaio – in 2014 it was voted in the top 10 sandwiches in the world.
- Gelateria La Carraia (local favourite.)
- Gusta Pizza Hands down the best pizza in Florence is. I usually grab a bottle of wine and sit on the steps outside the cathedral pondering how good life is! Pizza, wine and Italy = heaven.
- La Giostra – Pasta HEAVEN
- Trattoria Sant’Agostino – The BEST Florentine steak and Tuscan food.
- Il Milione – Incredible restaurant about 20 minutes outside Florence into the Tuscan hills with views of the Duomo.
- Scudieri – Very elegant café with the coffee beautifully presented in a traditional espresso cup.
- Caffee Gilli – This traditional and cute café specialises in the cappuccino.
- Level 5 at the Intercontinental (walk straight past reception to the lift and press level 5 as if you own the place).
- The rooftop bar of the Westin.
Start at Colle Bereto for some pre-drinks or head upstairs for a dance, then depending on what you want to do:
- Flo Firenze – Beautiful bar sitting above Florence. Head up for a drink in the evening and stay for a dance (you know you want to).
- A.B – underground club with RnB/Pop music (around the corner from Colle Bereto.)
- Space Electronic – check what nights it is open but work a dance if it is busy.
- Santa Croce (area) – Loads of bars to go to around here.
- Red Garter – small pub like place that plays great/trashy music.
- Blue Velvet – LATE night place when you have nowhere else to go. It’s small, dark and dingy.
- You can walk the whole city in around 30 minutes.
LOCALS ONLY KNOWLEDGE BOMBS
Near Palazzo Vecchio, you can find a carving of a man’s face in the wall. This is the work of the famous sculpture, Michelangelo. This original piece of street art has a number of different theories for its existence.
One theory states that Michelangelo carved the face on a dare and even etched it in the stone with his back turned. Others say that the artist was regularly caught in conversation with a notorious bore and one day carved the chatty man’s likeness into the wall simply to pass the time. Still another version of the story states that Michelangelo carved the head with his back turned as he witnessed the execution of Savanarola, the priest who a few years before had led the revolt against the Medici and burned books in a massive bonfire in Piazza Signoria.
- San Gimignano – My favourite town in all of Tuscany and you have to go there. In Italian, it’s called Medieval Manhattan because of the towers that shoot up throughout the town. This will give you a good chance to see the Tuscan landscape too. You can get a bus from the station there or hire a car and drive there for the day.
- Fiesole – Beautiful town that sits above Florence so the views are incredible. This will only take a morning. It’s also where I was born J
- Siena – another amazing town you could drive to. Piazza Del Campo is beautiful and it’s where they hold the famous horse race Palio di Siena.
- Bologna – 30-minute train ride, Bologna is a beautiful city and known for having the nicest people in Italy.