Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Top 10 Things To Do in Florence, Italy

Hey, y'all!  I'm so excited to share my second post of my #TravelTuesday series with you! Last week, I told you all about my favorite things to do in Venice.  Today, I'm telling you about our time in Florence.  We spent two days in Florence and basically ate {and drank} our way through the city...oh, and saw a lot of cool sites, too.  Keep reading for my top 10 favorite things we did in Florence!

Florence was one of our favorite cities that we visited while in Italy.  It's beautiful, quaint, has amazing food and wine, great shopping, is walkable, and extremely clean - what more could you ask for!?  Fielding and I think that Florence was the most "authentic" or least-touristy of all the places we went.  I feel like we really immersed ourselves in the culture and got a good glimpse of what it would be like to live there.

Where To Stay:

We stayed in a wonderful Air BnB in the heart of Florence, just steps away from the Duomo.  We couldn't have asked for better hosts - they left us tons of recommendations on things to do/eat, and they even left us a bottle of local Chianti to try.  The best part is that we were able to walk EVERYWHERE.  Also, it was so nice to have a kitchen, large bathroom {which is hard to come by in Italian hotels}, and washer/dryer to use in the middle of our trip.  Even if Air BnB is not your thing, I highly recommend staying near the Duomo as it's centrally located to all the things you'll want to do.

What to Wear:

As I mentioned in my #TravelTuesday post about Venice,  it is extremely hot in Italy in August.  Therefore, I stuck with light, airy clothing in Florence, as well.  Dresses, shorts, hats, and comfortable shoes are a must!  You'll also want to carry a light scarf in your purse to throw over your shoulders in the event that you visit any churches.

What To Do:

1.  Visit the Duomo 

The Duomo is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen.  The outside is intricately designed out of pink, white, and green marble - absolutely breathtaking!  It is free to go inside, but the line can be quite long.  I recommend going first thing in the morning or later in the day, around 3:45, to get in before it closes at 5.  If you go inside, you can pay to climb the 400+ steps to the top of the Dome for a great view of Florence.

2.  Stroll through the Central Market

Image result for central market florence

Mercato Centrale {or Central Market} market is a must! The ground floor is packed full of locals getting their fresh produce, meats, cheeses, olive oils, etc. for the day, and the top floor is a foodie's heaven...Imagine a fancy food court with all sorts of stands featuring Italy's favorites:  pasta, cheese, gelato, wine, seafood, bread, and so much more.  There's also cute shops and a cooking school!

3.  Shop for Leather 

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Florence is known for its leather goods, which make great, long-lasting souvenirs...hellooo leather handbags! Right outside of Central Market is a HUGE outdoor leather market with tons of local vendors.  You can find anything from bags and belts to jackets and shoes.  Many of the vendors carry the exact same items, so be sure to haggle for the best price!  

If you're looking for more unique leather goods, walk a couple of blocks from the outdoor market and visit my friend at Massimo Leather.  We stumbled upon his shop while walking home from the Central Market when a beautiful leather bag caught my eye.  We popped in and were immediately befriended by the owner, Massimo.  While shopping his amazing bag and leather jacket selection, we were chatting about where we were from.  Turns out, he has family that lives in Alabama and went to Auburn University - what a small world!  If you happen to stop by, tell him I sent you and give him a big "War Eagle!"

4.  Climb to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo

I'm a sucker for a good view.  The trek to the top of Piazzale Michaelangelo was totally worth it to take in this stunning panoramic view of Florence!  If you're also a sucker for a good sunset, like me, then grab a bottle of wine and head up there in the evening to watch the sun set over the beautiful city.

5.  See The David at Accademia Gallery

You flew all the way to Italy - you gotta see the David in all his glory in-person.  If you don't want to wait in the long line to get into the Accademia Gallery, buy your tickets online in advance.

6.  Admire the Ponte Vecchio Bridge 

The Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous bridges in Italy, but it's almost always packed with people.  Also, it's hard to admire it when you're actually ON it.  The best views of the bridge are from the bridge next to it - the Ponte Santa Trinita.  While you're there, make a pit stop at Gelateria Santa Trinita for some of the best gelato we had in Italy!

7.  Taste Bistecca Fiorentina {aka Steak Florentine}

Low Quality Picture of a High Quality Steak {Bistecca Fiorentina}
If you're a meat lover, you MUST try Bistecca Fiorentina - a traditional Florentine dish. You'll see it advertised at every tourist trap restaurant, so it's important that you go somewhere that does it well. {Reminder: As I mentioned in my Top 10 Things To Do in Venice post, do NOT eat anywhere with pictures on the menu or where employees are begging you to come inside.  Those restaurants at tourist traps with overpriced, low quality food.}.  We had delicious Bistecca Fiorentina at a restaurant called La Buchetta.  It's a little pricey, but totally worth it!  This restaurant also had the best caesar salad and tiramisu I've ever tasted!

8.  Eat at La Giostra 

La Giostra came recommended by many friends, and after eating there, I totally understand why.  The food is INCREDIBLE!  It definitely had the best homemade pasta that we tasted in Italy.  I can't recommend their pear raviolis enough...my mouth is watering just thinking about them!  Also, the restaurant is covered in framed pictures of all the famous people that have eaten there like Will Smith, The Spice Girls, Neil Patrick Harris, John Travolta, and most recently, Jessica Alba...so keep your eyes peeled for celebrities if you go!

9.  Try a Panini 

I had the best sandwich of my entire life in Florence.  If you're walking down the street and see a line of folks waiting to order at a panini shop, you hop in that line.  Trust me, it's worth the wait.   That's how we found I' Girone De' Ghiotti.  The sandwiches are huge, full of flavor and will only set you back about 5 euro!  

10.  Take a Day Trip - Pisa, Tuscany, or Cinque Terre

Florence is centrally located which makes it a great home base to take day-trips.  You have tons of options: visit the leaning tower of Pisa and get your obligatory tourist photo...go to the Tuscan country side and taste local wine and olive oils...head over to Cinque Terre for hiking and amazing views of the coast.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to take any day trips...darn, guess we'll have to go back! 

As you can see, food was a common theme for our trip to Florence.  We definitely had some of the best food we've ever tasted!  Have you been to Florence?  What were your favorite things to do or eat?  Tell me in the comments below!

I hope y'all are enjoying the #TravelTuesday series.  Check back next week to learn more about our trip to Rome!


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