I just came back from a much-needed girls trip to Firenze with my best friend Amelia! This is the second time we have done a trip to Florence and I thought our trip was totally deserving of a feature on the blog!
I am no stranger to this beautiful city. During university, I lived in Cortona, Tuscany and traveled a couple of times with my friends and program to Florence for art history class and for visiting! From seeing the beautiful works at the Uffizi or David at the Academia, Florence is filled with amazing art, architecture, and history.
I love re-visiting Florence, as I would an old friend. I also love going with Amelia. She lived in Florence for some time after university and speaks Italian. It is so wonderful to see her light up when she is back in the city and use the language.
Traveling with Amelia had allowed me to see some amazing things I would have never seen. Often when I go to new places, I google 'hipster things to see' or 'off the beaten track' in x city. I love seeing the best of both worlds, the super touristy must-sees and a couple of places that are totally random! I've compiled some of the places we go to every single time! It's the ultimate 'Guide To Florence' and a new city for our #fuzzybeecitycrawl series!
Each museum, activity, and attraction I have linked below so you can find out more about the history and ticket pricing!
Places To Stay
Staying in Florence is SO easy. Upon landing, it is a 15-minute ride by taxi into the city for about 25 euro. There is also a bus that you can take in and out of the city center. There are lots of affordable options for staying in Florence from a Palazzo to a Hostel.
- Airbnb: Airbnb's have popped up all over the city making it super easy to stay in the city center and further out depending on your needs and costs.
- Palazzo Gamba: We were staying over Easter and wanted to see the Scoppio and festivities of Easter from our room! It was a fabulous hotel and the staff and rooms were amazing!
- Hostels: If you are looking for a super cheap option (been there!), I have always used Hostel World to find a place that worked for me! There are a ton of options in the city!
Must See Museums + Churches
- Duomo: The lady of Florence is gorgeous and stands tall over the city with her fabulous Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Visiting the Duomo is a perfect way to start off your trip! The entrance to the Duomo itself is free. I do recommend an early start to make sure the line isn't crazy to get in.
- Opera Del Duomo Museum: The OPA is the Cathedral Workshop and was founded by the Republic of Florence in 1296 to oversee the construction of the Bell Tower and Cathedral. Today it is a museum and preservation for the works and cathedral. It is a FABULOUS way to learn about the construction, works, and history of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It is best when you do the Duomo and the museum together for the best impact.
- Uffizi Gallery: The Uffizi is a must see if you are an art lover! Originally, it was a collection of offices created by the powerful Florentine family, the Medici. Today it hosts the Medici family artworks and famous painters of Italy. It is the home to masterpieces by Raphael, Giotto, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Caravaggio, just to name but a few.
- The Accademia Gallery: This is the home of the famous David sculpture by Michelangelo. The Accademia is a wonderful gallery to visit if art isn't your thing but you want to get a taste of it when visiting. It includes other works by Michelangelo, sculptures and beautiful paintings.
- Pitti Palace: This museum was home to one of the most powerful families, The Medici. You will be able to see a mixture of art, architecture, and opulence of the Medici. They also host a range of other modern exhibitions to see.
- Boboli Gardens: These are the beautiful gardens to the Pitti Palace all 111 acres were a gift from Cosimo I de’ Medici to his wife, Eleonora di Toledo.
- Basilica of Sante Croce: Sante Croce is one of the most recognizable and beautiful churches of Florence. It is also the resting place of Michaelangelo and is filled with other beautiful works and history to see.
- Palazzo Strozzi: This old palace or 'palazzo' hosts wonderful non-permanent exhibitions that change. They do an amazing job curating. I've seen both a modern visual exhibition and their current Renaissance exhibition and both were fabulous!
- Gucci Gardens: This exhibition was a great way to spend 30-60 minutes in the afternoon or morning. It covers some of the iconic motifs of Gucci and some of their history in Florence. It also has a shop that gorgeous and pink and fabulous!
Other Things To Do
- Ponte Vecchio: Spanning the river Arno, the Ponte Vecchio is filled with beautiful jewelry shops built into the sides of the bridge. It also has a midway viewing point where you can look down the river! It is normally really busy but it's always fun to take this route to visit the other side of Florence!
- Clet + Studios: A visit to the San Niccolo neighborhood is a must. The best thing to do is visit some of the studios, boutiques, and the home of the famous street artist, Clet!
- The Vasari Corridor: The corridor is not yet re-opened but I am dying to get in! The corridor connects Palazzo Pitti to the Uffizi and was used by the Medici to get safely from their home to the government buildings. It is rumored the corridor will re-open in 2021!
- Mercato Centrale: A wonderful place for foodies or if you want to spend a night in making food in your Airbnb. It is filled with fresh produce, pasta, meat, and fish stands on the downstairs. In the upstairs, it has a collection of mini restaurants and bars. It is the perfect place to snag a morning coffee and relax a bit! Amelia and I grabbed some lemon ravioli to make on our last night and it was SOOO good.
- Piazza della Signoria: It is the center of political life in Florence and hosts the famous building Pallazzo Vecchio along with the newly restored Neptune fountain. It is a great little square to pass through or eat some gelato!
Places To Eat
- Ditta Artigianale: Amelia and I have nicknamed Ditta Artigianale 'trendy bar' as its a super hipster and fun cafe compared to your more traditional Italian cafes. It is perfect for a quick morning coffee but they also serve an AMAZING Aperol spritz and stay open late!
- Pino's: Literally, we ate lunch here every single day of our trip because the sandwiches and pasta are that good. Some of my favorites include the Emily or Pork Best. Pick your favorite, add some of the house wine, and you're good to go!
- Il Pizzaiuolo: Best pizza in the city (gasp, I said it)! It is best to book this place as it gets really, really busy. All of the pizza is good and I recommend the mixed starter that has some burrata to die for!
- Dim Sum: I love this dim sum place. If you've traveled or lived in Italy you can sometimes get sick of Italian food and want a little change up! Dim Sum is perfect and delicious. They have a beef/truffle dumpling that is life-changing. The place is packed with locals which is a good hint that this place is super good!
- Volume: I am a total lover of a dive bar. Before heading to Osteria Santo Spirito below, I recommend a quick spritz at volume. They serve weird aperitivo snacks, it's grungy, and I LOVE IT.
- Osteria Santo Spirito: I am not gonna lie, this restaurant is filled with exchange students every night. So it may not be the most authentic experience but they have really good food. There is an amazing truffle gnocchi which is to die for along with a delicious house wine! You'll need to book in advance! Eat some AMAZING truffles and ENJOY!
- Gelateria dei Neri: This place is amazing and I will walk from anywhere in the city to get their gelato above the others.
Shopping in Florence is a lot of fun as there are cute boutiques and large Italian brands around every corner. I've collected some of my favorites and put them below.
- Il Papiro: By far my favorite store. I love looking at all the marble papers, notebooks, and more.
- Obo Firenze: A new shop since I had last been to Florence, this super cute boutique has paper goodies, ceramics and more that are modern and made in Tuscany.
- The Paperback Exchange: A fabulous English book store. They always have a collection of books you can't find in the USA. Amelia grabbed a book on the Medici that has been published by a local author and translator. The staff are super helpful and can recommend some amazing options.
- Zecchi's: I used to buy all my art supplies here as an exchange student. I love taking a peek into Zecchi's and I always grab a Fabriano sketchbook and some pencils to use on my trip.
- Fabriano: An well-known paper company but they also have a cute boutique of paper, leather goods, art supplies, and stationery.
Easter In Florence
Every Easter Sunday, Florence celebrates Easter with The Scoppio del Carro, or the "Explosion of the Cart". Essentially, a large wagon is pulled by a pair of oxen, decorated in garlands, through the streets of Florence to the square between the Baptistry and Cathedral. Celebrants from Florences neighborhoods, dressed up, play drums and celebrate in front of the Duomo before and during Easter Mass. At the end of mass, they explode the cart! I've attached a little bit about the history of the event here.
I had never seen this done before and it was crazy and incredible. Amelia had booked us so that we had a room overlooking the Scoppio and so we drank some mimosas and got to see the whole experience from above.
My top tips would be to book in advance if you want to be in Florence during Easter. It also got crazy busy leading up to that weekend. We had planned to be there beforehand to avoid the crowds before Easter as tourist season officially kicks off after that!
If you are visiting Florence soon I hope this is helpful for you! And I hope you love your grand adventure! If you've used any of my tips just comment below!