Florence – The Italian city that stole my heart
I will start off by saying that the first thing I recommend doing for your 3-day Florence itinerary, is to add another day to your itinerary. I absolutely fell in love with this city and left wishing we had at least one more day to wander the cobblestone streets and explore the various piazzas and shops. I will share with you the things that we did during our 3-day stay that are an absolute must, the things I think you can skip, and the things we wish we had more time to do in case you take my advice and schedule a couple of extra days (and if you aren’t here to take my advice, then what are we all here for? 😊)
Florence: Day 1
This will be your most action packed day. And the thing I love about Florence is that you can walk everywhere, so you will get the whole lay of the land on Day 1.
The Duomo (duh): The symbol of Florence. The Piazza del Duomo is technically home to 3 different buildings, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, with its beautiful exterior façade, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, one of the oldest churches in Florence, and the Dome (the Duomo) that stands 116 meters high. Now, you can buy tours for all three of these sites, or you can do what my husband and I did- Stand in the square and marvel at the beautiful exterior (and proceed to do this every time you walk by on future excursions), enter the Cathedral for free and putz around, and pay to walk to the top of the Duomo for the breathtaking views of all of Florence. Our friends paid for a tour of the Baptistry and Cathedral and said they could have easily skipped it, but paying to walk to the top is 100% worth it, just plan around the rainy weather if you’re visiting in the fall/winter. You’ll have to plan ahead, and can purchase the tickets to climb the dome for 20 euro here.
Galleria Dell’Accademia Di Firenze (Accademia Gallery): Home of “The David”, one of Michaelangelo’s most renowned sculptures. I’m not a big art museum gal, but I loved this museum. Visiting here after all the museums in Rome, the museum felt small to me, which I enjoyed. Other than “The David”, this museum has a gallery of other sculptures, paintings, and plasters which made me feel like I was exploring Mr. Darcy’s Pemberly estate in Pride and Prejudice. And if you’re still thinking, “No but I like, really don’t enjoy art museums” – everybody NEEDS to see “The David”. I’ve never described a piece of art as ‘breathtaking’, but I could have stared at this sculpture for hours (okay maybe an hour, tops). With a 12 euro entrance fee and relatively short line (in November 2021), this is a MUST DO.
Quick Bite at All’Antico Vinaio: Okay, I’ve had multiple people tell me this was the best sandwich they’ve ever had in their entire life. It’s a walk up window right on the street and the lines can get long. They have someone directing traffic for specifically for the line. There are two windows, but they are the exact same. All the sandwiches on the menu are 6 euro, or you can make your own. I went here because it’s super popular and focaccia bread and cold cuts are my jam, however, I left unimpressed. Maybe I got the wrong thing or I didn’t enjoy eating a sandwich standing out in the rain, but I’m willing to give this place another chance. Seriously, multiple people have told me this sandwich is life changing so I can’t let my one experience rob you of experiencing it for yourself.
Piazza di Santa Trinita: There’s an old 13th century church and a lit up Christmas tree in November/December but I really brought you here for the Ferragamo store. See below ;).
Ferragamo Museum/Salvatore Ferragamo Store: For all my fashion lovers out there, I have options for you, too! After all we are IN ITALY! Salvatore Ferragamo purchased Palazzo Spini Feroni in the 1930’s and it has housed his flagship store ever since. Remember, “palazzo” means palace, so you will be able to scratch ‘shopping for Italian designer shoes and handbags in a Gothic palace’ off your bucket list. After you’re done shopping you can head down to what used to be the palace basement to tour the Ferragamo museum. I think it costs around 10 euro. The museum was very well done, and you’ll tour all the printed silk scarf collections based on the parts of the world that inspired them and also be able to see all the vintage shoes. And if you have a not so enthused husband in tow as I did, it’s a small museum so he’ll survive.
The renovated Gucci Garden was not open when I was there but if you enjoy the Ferragamo Museum, then also check out the Gucci Garden.
Ponte Santa Trinita (St. Trinity Bridge): Upon leaving the Ferragamo museum, flip a u-turn and you’ll arrive at the St. Trinity Bridge. This is a Renaissance bridge and is the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world. I didn’t know or realize this at the time, I was more impressed by the views of the Arno river. Cue, photo opp!
Ponte Vecchio: From the St Trinity bridge you can see the Ponte Vecchio. Other than being known for being old (Ponte Vecchio means ‘Old Bridge’), it is known for all the jewelry shops that line the street. The shops are v overrated in my opinion, but I won’t pass up a stroll up and down a medieval bridge with secret passageways (we’ll get to that later)
Golden View Restaurant: On Ponte Vecchio is where you should be heading to dinner. We were in Florence for Thanksgiving so we were looking for a more formal, celebratory dinner. I will be recommending some traditional Italian trattorias, but if you are looking for a more formal dining experience, I HIGHLY recommend this place. Not only was this some of the best food we had, but the view is also amazing, or should I say, golden. The restaurant is right on the Arno river and you can see the rest of the Ponte Vecchio. Reserve your table ahead of time from their website.
Florence: Day 2
After a full day 1 of walking around Florence, we’re going to slow things down a bit…
Wine Tasting in the Tuscan Countryside: If you are wanting to do some wine tasting while you are in Tuscany, which, WHY WOULDN’T YOU WANT TO? I highly recommend the wine tasting experience we did. I booked all of our tours while we were traveling through Airbnb, and this one was incredible value. This was a small group wine tour in the Chianti classico area of wine production (think what Champagne, France is to champagne, the Chinati Region is to Chianti Clasico).
This was pretty much a full day experience and so so worth it. The Palagio Winery we went to is about a 30 minute drive outside of Florence and the experience includes a thorough explanation of all the wine, a tour of the grounds and wine cellar, 8 wine tastings (plus olive oil and limoncello tasting), and a 4 course lunch. And this lunch was no joke. The whole day only cost $75 per person (not including transportation). Booking tours through Airbnb felt very secure, easy, and
Piazza Della Republicca: If you do any sort of wine tour that includes a 4 course lunch, you will be wanting a later dinner. (If you didn’t know this already, later dinners in Italy are better anyways because the locals will be eating after 8pm.) Head to Caffe Paszkowski for an aperitif. They have an enclosed outdoor seating terrace to sit and enjoy the atmosphere of one of the main squares in Florence. There’s even a carousel – magical.
Dinner at Trattoria Nella: Told ya I’d be recommending some casual trattorias. This place was recommended to me by a friend who lived in Florence and we really liked it. Small, casual, inexpensive – everything you want in your “down a quiet alley Italian trattoria”. You can view their hand written menu hung up outside the restaurant but one of their popular dishes is the Ravioli Alle Noci (Walnut Ravioli). It’s delicious, but very rich, so I recommend getting it as a shared plate, not your main meal.
Florence Day 3
San Lorenzo Market: This market has it all. The indoor section is dedicated to fresh food and grocery items and also ready to eat cuisine. Eataly is also part of this market. The outdoor portion of the market hosts endless stalls of leather goods, among other things. It’s the perfect place to get your souvenirs and bring dad home an Italian leather belt or your sister a knockoff Gucci bag.
Piazza della Signoria/Uffizi Gallery: You might remember me saying I’m not a big art museum gal. And while I loved the Accademia Gallery, I made the controversial choice to skip the Uffizi Gallery. It hosts some Michelangelo and Botticelli pieces, so if you think it’s borderline irreverent to be in Florence and not see these pieces, then knock yourself out, but I was content to enjoy the beautiful Piazza and the several sculptures that are outside in the square. Among which is a replica of The David (not the same as seeing the real thing). If you’re time in Florence is limited, this is skippable.
Walking Tour: Okay hear me out…I thought walking tours were something only old people did too. And while my husband and I didn’t actually end up doing the walking tour due to weather, our two friends who were travelling with us did. They said it was their favorite thing they did, and we got to benefit from all the fun facts and stories they took away from it -like Romeo and Juliet status family feuds and secret tunnels type stuff. Florence felt small after being in Rome, and we walked everywhere, but like everywhere in Europe, there is sooo much history behind every bridge and building and a little 2-hour stroll about town proved to be time well spent. This tour was also booked through AirBnB and was a very small group – I don’t have a link because there’s so many to choose from.
Dinner at Trattoria ZaZa: This restaurant was randomly selected off a list of recommendations and when we arrived there was about 40 people in line outside, not exaggerating. We almost bailed but decided, “when in Rome”. The wait went by surprisingly fast and before even getting our food we were so glad we waiting. Unlike your “hole in the wall” trattorias, this place was huge, and packed with tables and eclectic décor – 10/10 on the vibe check. The food was of course, delicious and to give you an idea of how inexpensive dining out is here, let me tell you what we ordered: the 4 of us ordered an artichoke appetizer, a pizza (which came with shots of tequila? don’t ask questions), lasagna, gnocchi, 2 bottles of wine, a round of limoncello, another dish, I don’t remember (see afore mentioned drinks), and the whole bill was 140 euro. Shook.
YAB: This next recommendation is not for the faint of heart. However, if you too find yourself happily hydrated after a delightful dinner at Trattoria ZaZa and just don’t want your night to end then head over to YAB nightclub. We were probably the oldest people there, but that meant we could afford a table and didn’t have to wait in line with all the college kids. The table with bottle service was only $300 which had this Southern California girl shook for the second time that night #youngandbeautiful.
- Where did you stay? We LOVED our AirBnB – linking here – Florence AirBnB
- How did you get around? We arrived to Florence by train and literally walked everywhere else?
- Favorite coffee shop? Ditta Artigianale. Also had fantastic breakfast options.
- Where is the place to shop? It should go without saying that I shopped between all of these activities. There are endless designer boutiques in Florence, and not a lot of “fast fashion”. There is a Zara in Piazza della Repubblica and most of the designer shops are on Via de’ Tornabuoni which the Ferragamo store is at the end of.
- Best time of year to go? I’m not an expert on this because I’ve only been once and I knew I didn’t want to go to Italy in the heat of summer. We were there in November and it was magical. Every single street was decorated for Christmas with lights and ornaments strung across every road. We dealt with some rain but it was still pleasant with an umbrella.
Have any questions? Have suggestions of your own? Leave me a comment, I’d love to meet you.