Welcome to the first installment of my new Travel Tuesday series! This is yet another element of my New Year’s resolution to make this blog awesomer, and I know you travel lovers will enjoy reading this series as much as I’ll enjoy writing it.
My first Travel Tuesday post is a guide to the beautiful city that has become my third home– Florence, Italy. In case you haven’t heard, I lived in Florence for a year, right before I met Tom. I had the most amazing time there and even would consider myself a bit of a local!
So whether you plan on visiting Florence sometime or just would like to giggle at photos of me with an extra 30 lbs of pizza and gelato weight on me (see: cheeks), read on for my travel guide to Florence, Italy.
What to do and see in Florence
I’ve never been one to recommend that someone experience the “typical tourist” bits of a destination, so here’s what I think you should do in Florence if you’re not up for things like seeing the David at L’Academia (although that’s pretty cool if you don’t mind waiting on line for 2+ hours.)
Walk up to Piazzale Michaelangelo
Sometimes referred to as a hike, grab a city map and head to Piazzale Michaelangelo for the best (free) views of the Firenze skyline.
Bike around the city
Go to Santa Croce and rent a bike from the sketchy woman sitting by the purple bikes. It’s cheap and worth it– you can ride along the Arno river or explore the quieter parts of the city that you’d never get to by foot.
Shop at the markets
Visit the Mercato Centrale to see all things food. Fresh pasta, meats, cheeses, olive oil and more are on offer here and you’ll be hungry by the time you’ve seen it all. This is where I did my food shopping, because the food is fresh and cheap.
If you’re looking for a souvenir to bring home that isn’t a crappy keychain or a postcard, head to the outdoor leather market right next to the mercato centrale. Florence is known for its outstanding leather, so pick up a new bag, wallet, or even a jacket! You’ll find cheaper goods at the market, but head to my leather guy Massimo Leather for unique bags and high-quality jackets.
Where to eat in Florence
As evidenced by my chubby cheeks in these photos, I consider myself a Florence foodie. Stay away from the tourist traps and get your hands on some AMAZING food at these food spots.
Best pizza in the city. That’s all that needs to be said.
Antico Noe is a hole in the wall (literally) that serves the panino of all paninos. I always get something that has the rose sauce– un-freaking-beliveably-good.
Festival del Gelato
It’s ironic that this place is right in tourist central because the gelato is really good. I love the choice of flavors– you can literally get anything you want!
I normally wouldn’t include this place in a guide to Florence, as I selfishly don’t want to share this little gem! But it’s expanded since I’ve lived in Florence so I’ll let you in. For a fancy dinner or lunch, head to Coquinarius and order bruschetta with honey and brie, bruschetta with grilled vegetables, and most importantly– pear ravioli. Just do as I say and you’ll be happy, I promise.
The Italians have the lovely little invention called aperitivo. It’s essentially happy hour, but instead of half price drinks, you purchase one drink and get to enjoy a lovely spread of snacks and finger foods. Some bars do it so well that you can eat a delish dinner for the price of one cocktail. My favorites:
Moyo offers a nice selection along with some yummy cocktails. Wednesday is Asian night (which is good for people living in Florence who are starting to get a bit sick of pasta…)
There’s so much food included in aperitivo at Kitsch that you’ll have to roll yourself outta there. Two locations that are both a bit of a walk from the center, but I think it’s worth it.
The priciest of the bunch, the food and the stylish ambiance at Colle Bereto make it worth it. It’s where the Italians go. The place also turns into a posh nightclub later on.
Where to drink in Florence
Is it bad to admit that I also knew my way around the Florence drinking scene too? Well, I did.
Catinetta dei Verrazzano
You can take your parents to Catinetta dei Verrazzano, it’s tame. It’s a teeny little place that has its own winery out in Tuscany, so go here to try some yummy wine– the finger foods are amazing too!
Kikuya is another small spot with a killer beer called Dragoon. Only drink one… you’ve been warned.
Good aperitivo, great cocktails. A hot spot for Italians and in a great location for the bar scene.
Ask anyone who studied abroad in Florence and they’ll tell you they’ve been to Lion’s Fountain. If you’re craving a crowded pub with throwback music and tons of Americans, this is the place to go. The bartenders are awesome too.
Do you have any questions about what to do or see in Florence? Ask me in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.