Welcome to Firenze! Nestled in the hills of Tuscany, it’s a charming, cobblestone-filled town full of life, color and delicious food. I studied abroad in Florence back in college, and I have to admit–I was nervous about heading back. I kept having stress dreams that my old apartment had been turned into a grocery store (it hasn’t) and that I would get lost trying to get to my old favorite spots (I did). Sharing a place that was so important to me with my family was really special–we had such a great time, and I’m spilling on some of my favorite parts of the city (along with a huge photo dump) below!
Because there were seven of us, we found that after crunching the numbers, it was actually cheaper for us to rent a house than it was to book what would have been five hotel rooms. I dug through Airbnb for weeks until I found a rental that I thought was perfect for us–a great central location, plenty of bedrooms and a kitchen in case we wanted to take advantage of the local fresh markets.
^^ I was obsessed with this wall-sized world map in the rental’s living room ^^
We loved our place, and I really enjoyed the experience of coming home to an “apartment” every evening–it made me feel more like a local!
Florence is one of those special cities: You could do a speed trip though the town and see the “surface” stuff in about three days, or you could stay a few extra days past that and casually breeze your way through the city like we did. There are a few things that everyone needs to see (like the famous Ponte Vecchio, above), but there are others that completely make the trip: the artists creating incredible portraits on the street, the charming secluded alleyways, the local-packet piazzas.
^^ This was the street my old abroad apartment was on. I had to go see! ^^
^^ This is Piazza Repubblica, my favorite in the whole city. ^^
Don’t miss: The Accademia (where you can find Mr. David), The Uffizi, The Pitti Palace, The Ponte Vecchio (and the whole walk down the Arno, really), the churches around town (Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is my favorite!), the street art near the Duomo, getting lost (it’s the best way to discover a city!).
^^ The gorgeous walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo ^^
^^ The Mercato Centrale in Florence has the most incredible produce and artisanal products ^^
^^ I was dying to bring all this fresh pasta home with me ^^
^^ Christmas card 2014? Mayyyybeeeeee! ^^
^^ The view from the top of the Duomo’s Watch Tower is truly unreal. This is only one small slice of the 360 panorama! ^^
Don’t miss: The San Lorenzo Market (leather goods, like you see above. I snagged a new leather jacket and bag!), Mercato Centrale (fresh produce), the jewelry shops lining the Ponte Vecchio (a great place to buy gold products!), climbing to the top of the Duomo or its bell tower, hiking across the Arno to Piazzale Michelangelo for an aerial view of the city, watching a soccer game on the streets (we were there when Italy got kicked out of the World Cup).
The food–oh good lord, the food, you guys. It. Was. Amazing. Even better than I remember being, if that’s even possible. I ate my body weight in pasta, cheese and gelato the whole week, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I have enough restaurant suggestions to make you blue in the face, so I’m only going to include where we ate (and I can’t possibly pick a favorite, they were all incredible)–if you’re heading to Florence and would like all my suggestions, just shoot me an e-mail…I’m happy to share!
We ate at: I Due Fratellini, Trattoria 4Leoni (get the pear pasta!), Gusta Pizza (let the pizza sit for two minutes before you eat it–the cheese is so fresh that it can be a little watery at first, but it firms back up), Trattoria 13 Gobbi (the most incredible pasta ever), Aqua al Due (the blueberry steak is a must), Buca Mario (one word: truffles), La Giostra (great atmosphere), Osteria di Giovanni, All’ Antico Vinaio, Grom (gelato) and Gelateria de Neri (gelato).
Hope you enjoyed this little jaunt through Florence–next up, Rome!