Obviously nowadays it’s super easy to google destinations or to purchase a guide book on amazon. However, I personally think there is no better advice than personal recommendation. Over the past 6 months I have visited Florence almost weekly and with the help of my friends living there I have managed to explore the city extensively. So I am going to share some of my top recommendations for if you’re visiting this beautiful city.
Now I’m not usually one for hitting up the main tourist attractions but I must say that I thoroughly recommend purchasing a ticket from the museo dell’opera. The ticket includes access to the famous Duomo (cathedral), baptistery and a fantastic museum that shows how the monumental building was constructed and designed. You can then also reserve a time slot to embark on the 463 steps to the top of the dome or head to the top of the 85m bell tower. Both these buildings provide unforgettable views of Florence on a clear day. The ticket can be used throughout the day which allows you to explore the different parts at your own leisure.
The photoautomat project was founded in Berlin in 2004. They specialise in running and maintaining analog photo booths. The photo booths are dotted all around Europe and there happens to be a few in Florence and one just minutes from Dante’s house. You get 4 small pictures in the authentic black and white photo booth style and it only costs €2. They’re such a fun thing to keep as a memory of your trip!
People can sometimes be put off by the location but the breath-taking views are worth the short walk. You can find the square through the Porta San Miniato gateway on the South bank of the Arno River. It offers panoramic views of the whole city and is home to Michelangelo’s statue of David. On a clear day this is arguably the best view of the city!
This is simply the name of a department store located in Piazza della Repubblica. But the secret is its rooftop bar. It can be very tricky to get a table so try and go at a quieter time or be prepared to wait for around 15 minutes. The terrace overlooks the Duomo providing the most wonderful photo opportunities and just an all round gorgeous view for an afternoon (or morning, this it Italy after all) cocktail!
Food, what you really want to hear about…
My absolute go to for traditional Tuscan food. This place is fantastic and so authentic. It is very similar to the famous Antica Vinaio (which I also recommend) but is much more low key. I would say that no-where serves better mixed boards than here. For unbelievably cheap prices you can sample the amazing meats and cheeses that Italy has to offer. If you want to experience the real Italy, then this is where to go!
Now this isn’t your typical Italian lunch spot, as you’ve probably guessed from the name. But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the pizza and pasta this is a great alternative for brunch. The café offers delicious breakfast options and the most amazing pancakes. Not only is the food mouth watering but it is all served in the most beautiful surrounding as the café come restaurant has a rustic theme and is filled with exquisite greenery and flowers. In fact, I would say that it is worth popping in just to see how delightful it is inside, even if it’s only for a drink.
Piazza Santa Croce
The surrounding streets of this lovely square are my favorite place to go for aperitivo or apericena. This basically means you simply pay for a drink and can then help yourself to a variety of food, normally ranging from pasta to cold cuts. An Italian tradition I wish we would adopt in the UK and something that I will miss very much. Be sure to take advantage of this unique set up whilst you’re in Florence.
Il Mercato Centrale
The central market is an absolute must! The layout is superb with different food stands forming a horseshoe encircling the bar in the middle. From Asian fusion to handmade burgers, this place has something for everyone. Also, all the food operators are committed to providing the highest standard of quality and all dishes prepared are made using only the raw materials on sale inside the Mercato itself. Then to top it all off you can see people taking part in cooking lessons!