A trip guide to Florence, Italy
To us, Florence is the crown jewel in Italia. The rich palette of gold, peach, orange, and terracotta are painted across a city so well preserved it's like stepping back in time. We stayed four nights in the heart of Tuscany and by the grace of God, the sun was shining and it was unseasonably warm for the end of October. You can literally wander the city and get from one point to the next by walking - no Ubers, rarely a need for a taxi, all fueled by an espresso and a scoop of gelato. We wanted to share all the things we did and ate that made this part of Italy so memorable for us.
We flew into Milan, took a train into the Milan Central Train Station and trained to Florence. From there, it was a short walk to our hotel.
The Westin Excelsior, Florence
Piazza Ognissanti, 3
Situated on the Arno river is the Westin. It's a beautiful hotel with large rooms, plush pillows, and incredibly comfy beds - a perfect cure for jet lag and days of walking.
Eats Sweets Drinks
A big shoutout goes to Lauren at Aspiring Kennedy and Georgette at Girl in Florence for curating beautiful blog posts and Instagram stories about all their Florence favorites. We loved every recommendation!
La Ménagère - our first stop for coffee and a light breakfast. In all honesty, we went here for the aesthetic. A French restaurant in the middle of Italy. Ironic, yes - worth it, absolutely. We found this gem through Lauren and as a full circle moment, we were in Florence at the same time and had the delight of enjoying in real life friendship over a cappuccino.
Melaleuca - hands down our favorite breakfast place. Incredible service, delicious food, beautiful little spot by the Arno - you can't beat it.
Amble Firenze - a cozy cafe and bar tucked into the middle of a neighborhood where we enjoyed some delicious snacks, incredible drinks, and rock and roll.
Love Craft - super cozy bar with great service and drinks. We sat outside and watched Florence go from day to night. Their drinks are the speciality and provided light snacks of nuts.
Manifattura - loved this classy cocktail bar close to our hotel - a perfect place for an aperitif before dinner. Great service and they even called a taxi for us so we wouldn't be late for our dinner reservation!
Vini E Vecchi Sapori - the minute this restaurant opens, there's a line of patrons - I should add - with reservations. Without, come back tomorrow with one. It's a bit touristy, but for good reason.
Pizzeria Giovanni Santarpia - Florence isn't necessarily known for its pizza - but it's not known for it's French cafe or Australian breakfast place either. But, when in Italy, the pizza is going to be the chef's kiss no matter what. We booked a reservation on the other side of the river and took a taxi there and walked down Via Senese on the way home through one of the original gates of the city.
Vivoli Gelateria - crema and strawberry please! Pretty popular spot for gelato, but delicious flavors!
Sbrino Firenze - beautiful little gelato shop we stumbled upon our walk to the hotel from Pizzeria Giovanni Santarpia.
Wild Buns Bakery - before we caught our train to Venice, we made a must stop at Wild Buns Bakery for their cardamon buns. Delicious coffee and buns and a fun stroll through a Florence neighborhood that's quieter and very few tourists.
What to See
The Duomo - at the heart of the city is this breathtaking cathedral where tourists and locals pass through to the beat of the tolling bells. It really is spectacular whether you take the time to go inside or marvel at the beautiful green and pink marble exterior.
Boboli Gardens - 10 € you get epic views of Florence - both of the Duomo side and the Tuscan hills. This was one of favorite things we did and highly recommend it!
Piazzale Michaelangelo - highly recommend taking an urban hike before sunset for sweeping views of Florence. It's free! When you get to the top, there are a few vendors and a cafe and steps to sit and watch the world go by.
Uffizi Galleries - wherever we go, J.J. always finds the best galleries to visit. From Roman busts of Julius Caesar and Octavian to Botticeli's "The Birth of Venus" - it's well worth buying a ticket in advance. We also found ourselves one evening passing through the courtyard of the gallery with a talented violinist playing and steps to sit for an impromptu concert.
Accademia Europea di Firenze - in other words, go here to see the statue David by Michelangelo. There are no words to describe what it's like seeing this sculpture in person.
Ponte Vecchio - though this is definitely a more touristy spot of Florence, one cannot deny crossing this famous bridge at least once.
We love Florence for how simple it is - the beauty of this city is in every bite and seen around every corner. It's definitely better in person.