Florence

Florence will always be my favorite "major" city in Italy. It's less crowded and much more manageable than Rome. I appreciate that everything is centered around the Duomo which makes shopping, museum visits, and dining much easier. I've had the pleasure of visiting Florence twice and each time I return, I'm reminded of how magical the city truly is. If you appreciate art, delicious Italian dining, and a cozy city vibe, Florence should definitely be on your bucket list! 

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Accommodations

Mary and I traveled here together in 2016 and stayed at the Medici Chapel, yes the Medici Chapel. I still can't believe this is an AirBnB, but there's are a few apartments attached to the Chapel. It's conveniently located just a few streets from the Duomo. There's also a little café next door where we got espresso and pastries in the morning. While the apartment itself is small, it's perfect for one or two people. It's also so cool to say you've stayed there (only $78 a night)! Click here to book this apartment.

Not signed up for AirBnB yet? Click here for a $40 travel credit! 

 The entrance to our AirBnb at the Medici Chapel

The entrance to our AirBnb at the Medici Chapel

Dining

 Pasta bolognese

Pasta bolognese

Cacio Vino Trallallà: Small & intimate restaurant with delicious food! The waiters are very knowledgeable of where the ingredients come from. For the high end experience, the prices are very reasonable. 

Trattoria Zaza

Osteria Santo Spirito: Mary and I met up with our friend Daniella, a Gettysburg friend studying abroad in Florence. She showed us this restaurant and the food absolutely blew our minds. Like many Italian restaurants, it had a very cozy vibe and generous portions. You have to try to truffle gnocchi!

'Ino: This restaurant features artisan ingredients that are sourced locally. You can create your own combo or pick a house special with a glass of wine.

Cantinetta dei Verrazzano: Near the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, this a small cellar where you can enjoy focaccia straight from the oven.

I Due Fratellini: Also located close to the Duomo, this restaurant has been a Florence staple since 1875! Locals are known to order paninis here and stand in the street.

Accademia Ristorante: You can find this family-run restaurant near San Marco. Everyone loves the cheerful decor and friendly staff. 

Trattoria Cibreo: This casual dining experience is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. No reservations & no credit cards.

Coffee & Desserts

Coffee Rivoire: There's a lovely terrace to enjoy a beautiful view of the city. It's worth the high prices.

Gilli: This beloved cafe has been open since 1733! It's difficult to claim a table on the piazza, but so worth it. You can also opt to stand at the bar. 

Chiaroscuro: This casual cafe roasts its own coffee beans and is a staple to the Florence cafe scene. 

Gelateria Edoardo: Located right in front of the Duomo, this was by the best gelato I had during my stay! The best part was you could enjoy it in front of Florence's most iconic building!

Gelateria Perchè No

*The best piece of advice my friend Daniella told me was to never buy gelato from a place that has it stacked super high. They do that for the look, but the gelato is never fresh! Opt for a place that displays smaller quantities because its more likely that it will be fresh. Thanks Daniella!*

 Gelato with a view

Gelato with a view

Activities

Did you know that most museums in Italy are free the first Sunday of every month? This means lines will be crazy long but if you get up early, you can get free entrance into some of the world's most famous museums! 

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Uffizi Gallery: This is one of my favorite museums in Florence and is located in the center of the city. It has one the most impressive collection of Renaissance art, as well as my all time favorite painting: "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli. There are hundreds of works to look at, so if you really enjoy art, give yourself a few hours to peruse the collections. Purchase tickets here.

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Florence Cathedral & Duomo: This is by far the most iconic building in the city. From a tourist perspective, this is the center of the city and the helps to locate yourself if you're lost. It was completed in 1434 (!!) and has some of the most unique architecture I've ever seen. Entrance is free! 

 The Cathedral & Duomo

The Cathedral & Duomo

Ponte Vecchio: The medieval stone bridge over the Arno River is known for having shops built along it. It segments the central part of the city to a high end shopping district where you can buy gold jewelry! 

 Rainy days at the Arno River 

Rainy days at the Arno River 

Palazzo Vecchio: This is the city's Town Hall and overlooks a copy of Michelangelo's "David" in the Piazza della Signoria. To visit the museum and tower, tickets are 10 euro or 8 euro for students.

 Palazzo Vecchio 

Palazzo Vecchio 

Accademia Gallery: This beautiful museums houses one of the world's most celebrated statues: Michelangelo's "David." Prepare for your mind to be blown. It's so much bigger in person than you could ever imagine. What always shocks me is that "David" was carved from an unwanted, faulty piece of marble. It goes to show how truly talented Michelangelo was. Accademia Gallery is wildly popular because of "David" so be sure to book your tickets in advance here.

Battistero/Baptistery: This is famous for its gilded-bronze doors, particularly Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gate of Paradise. You can see the doors from the outside and it's located behind the cathedral. 

Museo del Bargello: This museum is home to Italy's most comprehensive collection of Tuscan Renaissance sculpture, including Donatello's two versions of "David" plus a number of important early works by Michelangelo. Entrance is 4 euro. 

Palazzo Pitti: The infamous Medici Family called this place home in 1549. Today it houses four museums, including Galleria Palatina, Museo degli Argenti (Medici Treasury), galleria d'Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art), and Gallery del Costume (Costume Gallery). Ticketing can be confusing so follow this guide: 

  • Ticket 1: Entrance into Galleria Palatina, Apartment Reali, and Galleria d'Arte Moderna
  • Ticket 2: Entrance into the Museo deli Argenti and Galleria del Costume, plus the Bobble and Bardini Gardens
  • Ticket 3: Entrance into all the museums and gardens (valid for 3 days)