Exploring under the Tuscan sun has always been a dream of mine. During our visit, Florence effortlessly weaved itself onto my list of the best places in the world.
I was sure I was going to be disappointed, since we left Positano (one of the most beautiful places) for Florence. But I just fell in love all over again!
We arrived in Florence after taking the train from Naples. For more information on the logistics of train travel in Italy, check out my guide to Positano and the Amalfi Coast.
Where We Stayed
Our Florence Airbnb had the most character out of all the places we stayed in Italy. The artwork, beams and view were absolutely beautiful! Our host, Michelangelo, was so sweet and circled all of his favorite food places on a map, which came in handy during our stay.
How We Spent Our Days
Day 1: The Arrival
We arrived in Florence just in time for dinner, and decided to go to one of the places our Airbnb host recommended. Best decision ever. Osteria de Pepó was one of my favorite places we ate in Florence, probably because it’s where we had our Lady and the Tramp moment. Our dinner consisted of bread, grilled veggies, and the best spaghetti and meatballs.
We ended our night with gelato (duh) from Gelateria Edoardo and a walk around the Duomo, while we listened to music and watched people dancing in the square.
Day 2: All the Touristy Things
We began our day at another one of Michelangelo’s recommendations, Caffè Rosanò, where Asher ordered a latte the size of his head. No lie. They have the biggest lattes. I ordered the Rosa special, an omelette with veggies, and Asher ordered a Nutella banana crêpe.
After breakfast, we went to the Statue of David. It was my favorite thing. It turns out all those history books don’t lie. David actually exists, and I’m still not over that I saw him with my own eyes. I loved roaming around the gallery, and I may or may not have bought some inappropriate Statue of David postcards to send to family and friends. One euro for a postcard can give you priceless laughs. I highly recommend it.
Note: We bought our tickets here in advance and were able to skip the long line to get in.
We went to the Mercato Centrale Firenze for lunch, which is basically a giant, gourmet-ish style food court. I got Chinese potstickers and instantly regretted it when I saw Asher’s pizza. What was I even thinking buying potstickers in Italy? Get the pizza.
After lunch, we walked to the top of the Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower. Let me interject some advice here. Do NOT go to the top of the Duomo if you are afraid of endless stairs, are slightly claustrophobic or have a fear of heights. I don’t mind stairs. I wanted to die when I was squished to a ledge in the top of the ceiling. It was beautiful for one second, and then I wanted out. Would I do it again? Heck. No. Am I glad I did it and would I recommend it to other people? Yes, do it! You won’t die. You’ll be fine. And you’ll see some of the best views of the city.
Note: We bought our tickets here. The lines weren’t terrible for this, since they give you a certain time slot to go to the top of the Duomo.
We totally deserved all the food after those stairs, so we went to Eataly for dinner. We ordered a charcuterie board and some of the best lasagna. Afterwards, we ventured to the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence.
One of my favorite moments in Italy happened this night in Florence. We were walking the streets in search of gelato when we heard some musicians starting to play. People in the street recognized the song, and all of a sudden, everyone belted out the lyrics to “Mamma Mia” by Abba. It was magical.
We did eventually find some gelato at Don Nino in the square. I recommend the hazelnut and chocolate.
Day 3: The Leaning Tower of Pisa
One of our favorite coffee shops in Italy was Simbiosi Cafe. We went twice and normally opted for a latte, a cappuccino and a pastry. We stopped by the shop before heading to Pisa.
Our trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa was a short one. There’s not too much to do in Pisa other than see the lopsided building. Beware of small children running up to steal a high five as you stick your arms up to hold the tower for a photo. Not cool. We stopped at one of the cafes in the street for some pizza before heading back to Florence.
When we got back, we headed straight to the square to buy artwork. The artists sell their outside the Duomo, and I’d been eyeing one of the watercolors.
After walking around, we stopped by Osteria II Gatto e la Volpe for dinner. If you go anywhere in Florence, go there. We had the gnocchi with pesto, cheese and tomatoes and chicken in a spicy tomato sauce and spinach. They also had the best bread I ate in Italy.
For sunset, we headed to Piazzale Michelangelo, a square at the top of the city that offers superior views of Florence. It was gorgeous and probably one of my favorite spots! People gathered to watch the sun touch the city and listen to live music.
And of course, we ended the night with gelato at one of my favorites, Venchi’s.
Day 4: The Gardens
We began our morning at a hip coffee shop and cafe, La Menagerie. They have everything, like coffee, cocktails, food, flowers and artisan dishes. We opted for an almond cappuccino, latte and chocolate muffin.
Next we explored the San Lorenzo Market and the Piazelle Vecchio, a large square where you’ll find the Gucci Garden. I never buy anything, but there’s something about going in Gucci that makes me feel so boujee. So that’s what we did.
We explored the streets of Florence, and stumbled upon Osteria dell’Oca, a cute little restaurant with the sweetest people. We split cheese, pesto and tomato ravioli and roast beef with spinach. I’m a stickler for trying to eat veggies (and get Asher to eat them) when we travel.
After lunch, we headed up the hill to visit the Giardino Bardini, an Italian Renaissance garden, and the Giardino Boboli, a garden originally designed for the Medici. The Giardino Bardini has one of the best views of the city, and the Giardino Boboli is absolutely exquisite. You could explore the gardens all day! It costed us about 20 euros each, and was so worth it.
Afterwards, we walked around the shops by the Ponte Vecchio, and stopped for dinner at Osteria All’antico Vinaio, a hole-in-the-wall panini place. Asher ordered the Inferno, a panini with Tuscan roasted pork, grilled veggies, spicy cream and rocket salad (aka arrugula). I ordered the Summer, which included fresh mozzarella, ham, tomatoes and basil. Asher’s was better, but both were excellent. We picnicked with our paninis in the Piazelle Vecchio (but don’t do that, because according to the police who stopped me on my last bite, it’s not allowed).
To end our last night in Florence, we walked around the Duomo and stopped to split some tiramisu at Eataly. I highly recommend it. And then, because we were in Italy and because we were on vacation (calories don’t count), we stopped at La Menagerie (again) for cappuccinos and a chocolate mousse tart. It was to die for!
Florence felt like the true authentic Italian experience that you see in the movies. I’m still trying to make up my mind whether Positano or Florence is my favorite. But I am sure about one thing – if you go to Italy, you have to go to Florence. There’s nothing quite like the charm of a Tuscan city.