Our three days in Rome had come to an end, and now it was time for our next destination, Florence. We boarded the train and in less than an hour and a half, we arrived. I could already tell that there was something different about this city. It was cleaner, less chaotic, and a little more sophisticated. I was intrigued, and I couldn’t wait to see what this city was all about…
The wonderful thing about Florence is that it is a small and compact city, much smaller than Rome. Small enough that we never needed to take a taxi or ride the metro. Walking around the city was the easiest mode of transportation, and I didn’t mind it one bit. You experience so much more culture this way and stumble upon things that were never on your to-do list….
☞ Visitor Tip: Check with your cell phone carrier if coverage is included. We have Sprint and coverage in Italy was included at no extra cost.
SHOP THIS LOOK
|Four cheese gnocchi with pear sauce||Peposa (beef stew / roasted potatoes)|
Cicalone Via delle Belle Donne, 43/r, 50123 Florence, Italy
Much like what we did in Rome when searching for a place to eat, we came across this charming restaurant as we began walking the city. The walls were decorated with boards from old wine boxes and they served authentic Tuscan food which was delightful. The portion sizes were just right for the hearty meals we ate, leaving just enough room for tiramisu.
Duomo Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Florence, Italy
After lunch, we headed toward the Duomo, the most iconic structure in Florence. You can see the top of the dome from virtually anywhere in the city, and often times, I used it as my point of navigation. There are several tours you can take depending on your preference. We opted to head up to the top of the dome. If you choose this tour, be prepared to hike 463 steps, but the extraordinary panoramic view from the top is well worth it.
☞ Visitor Tip: Tickets sell out quickly for the Duomo. Buy your tickets at the box office at least a day in advance or book online.
L’ Antica Cantina del Chianti Piazza del Duomo, 23R, 50122 Florence, Italy
There are plenty of charming shops surrounding the Duomo, but none quite like this one. They carried a large selection of Chianti, truffle oil, dried pasta, and limoncello. It was truly a one-stop-shop for Italian gifts.
☞ Visitor Tip: When you find a store you like, take a picture of the outside of the store with your smartphone. In the event you want to go back, but can’t remember the location, you can always find the address online or ask someone local.
La Prosciutteria Via dei Neri, 54r, 50122 Florence, Italy
From the start of our trip, our daily diet consisted of pizza, gelato, tiramisu, and bowls of gnocchi, but we still didn’t have the one thing my husband had been craving the entire trip; a charcuterie board of Italian meats and cheeses. I was determined to find the best, so we headed to La Prosciutteria for dinner based on its reviews, and it did not let us down. They had a great selection of fresh cut meats, soft and hard cheeses, and a wonderful selection of wine at reasonable prices.
San Lorenzo Market Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 6, 50123 Florence, Italy
Some people have a love-hate relationship with street markets, but I absolutely adore them. It allows me to put my bargaining skills to the test. Although, I highly recommend walking the entire market first before buying anything. It gives you the opportunity to comparison shop since most vendors carry similar items. I found that the quality of the leather goods, such as handbags, belts, and wallets were exceptional, but the leather coats were not as nice as I remembered them from my trip years ago when I was still in college. All in all, it’s a wonderful experience and a great place to buy gifts to bring home.
☞ Visitor Tip: Currency exchange stations are hard to find in Italy and they can charge fees up to 20%. Exchange your money ahead of time or bring a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees. Most places take credit cards, including street vendors.
Galleries and Architecture
The remainder of our trip was spent visiting galleries and museums. We visited the Uffizi Gallery which is massive and houses the Birth of Venus painting. I underestimated the amount of time it would take us to walk through its entirety. Plan at least a half day.
Throughout the city you will see statues of David everywhere. Very confusing if you are looking for the real one. Make no mistake, if you are looking for the true Michelangelo’s David sculpture, it is located at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
Being a fashion buff, I was excited to visit the Gucci Museum. However, once we arrived, we were informed that the museum was closed due to renovations. It will now be called the Gucci Garden opening in January 2018.
Undoubtable Florence has amazing galleries and museums; however I was just as impressed with the sculptures, talented street artists, and architecture we found throughout the city, and the exact reason why I love walking versus any other mode of transportation.
Our next stop…Venice.