A Travel Guide to Florence

travel guide to florence italy, local guide to florence, local guides to florence italy
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

what to do in florence, where are good views in florence, guide to good views 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.

eating i due fratellini panino

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.

Gusta Pizza 

Best pizza in the city. That’s all that needs to be said.

Antico Noe

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!

Coquinarius

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.

Aperitivo

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

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…)

Kitsch

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.

Colle Bereto

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.

wine in florence italy, bars to go to in florence

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

Kikuya is another small spot with a killer beer called Dragoon. Only drink one… you’ve been warned.

Oibo

Good aperitivo, great cocktails. A hot spot for Italians and in a great location for the bar scene.

Lion’s Fountain

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.

9 Comments

  1. January 22, 2014 / 11:56 am

    I loved my visit to Florence, only regret was only spending two days there! Great information for when I head back again, all the food descriptions made me crave some delicious food!

    • January 26, 2014 / 11:24 am

      I know right? I got so hungry writing the post. I always recommend at least 3 days there otherwise you really miss out on so much!

  2. Bellavia
    January 24, 2014 / 7:39 pm

    Great list! Just a little note…Moyo, Oibo`, Lochness and most of via de’Benci drinking spots have been sequestered for noise violations/disrupting the peace and have to close at 10pm until 7am. So they mainly are now just aperitivo spots, but half hearted since they’re all understandable bitter about it.

    The bigger late night spot (probably also going to be sequestered in numbers…eventually. sigh) is Santo Spirito. Volume, Pop, Cabiria etc.

    • January 26, 2014 / 11:23 am

      Was that done recently Denise? They did the same during the summer while I was there but it only lasted for about 2 weeks as there was a large sit-in and many people were very upset.

      • Bellavia
        January 27, 2014 / 10:08 pm

        Yes, again! :-/

  3. Amandine
    January 27, 2014 / 12:32 am

    Hello!

    I decided to write a comment on this article, even though I have been reading your three blogs for hours!

    I am going to study abroad next semester and ended up searching information on your study abroad guide website!

    I then browsed your Florence blog and this one. I was amazed about all the things that happened in your life. Some might say you are lucky, I would rather say you got what you deserved by being adventurous.

    Your blogs are truly inspiring, I wish you a good continuation and (even more?) happiness!

    • January 28, 2014 / 6:28 pm

      Amandine, that was one of the sweetest things anyone has ever written. I’m so honored that you’ve been reading all of my blogs! And that bit about being adventurous– I’d have to agree with you on that one. I’m not lucky– anyone can do what I’ve done if they just DO it! 🙂 I hope you keep reading and commenting, thanks again for the lovely words.

  4. March 10, 2015 / 9:08 am

    This is really handy for my first visit to Florence at the end of this month. I’ve been trying to research where to eat (because food is obviously one of the most important things when travelling!) so I’ve made a note of your suggestions. The pear ravioli sounds delish!

    • March 10, 2015 / 9:57 pm

      So glad that you found it helpful Ayla! Tweet me if you need any more recommendations 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *