Ahhhh, Florence! Edwin has proclaimed it as his favorite Italian city and I don’t blame him. It has the feel of a small city with museums, landmarks, and restaurants galore. We took the train from Venice to Florence and arrived at the NH Firenze hotel in no time. We immediately dropped off our bags and began to explore.
We knew we had to start our exploration by visiting the Ponte Vecchio. Luckily it was a short walk from our hotel and on our route to the Bomboli Gardens. The Bomboli gardens were a beautiful sight to see. There were fountains, greenery, and scenic views galore.
You know we couldn’t come to Florence and not see David in all of his glory. Sure I’d seen his picture in books but seeing him in person, all 17 feet, is a quite a sight. The Galleria dell’Academia itself was a small museum, compared to other Italian museums, but the lines to buy tickets/get in wrap around so do yourself a favor and pre-order your tickets. They tickets will be waiting for you and your predetermined time and it will grant you fast access to the museum.
The Uffizi is a beautiful building in and of itself that holds work from some of the greatest artist to ever live. We were able to see artwork from Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello. Don’t leave Florence without a visit.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
The bell tower next to the Basilica is composed of 414 steps and this one (unlike the one in Venice) does NOT have an elevator. Not gonna lie, we had to stop here and there to catch our breathes but the sights from atop were unbelievable. The bell tower itself is considered to be the most beautiful bell tower in Italy. It is said to have been built more for aesthetics than functionality. Don’t let the climb scare you away, it’ll be worth it, I promise! You can also preorder the ticket for the Basilica and Duomo beforehand in order to save you from standing in the sun for a long time.
Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica and Duomo
3rd largest church in the world
Culinaria is a small restaurant with Mediterranean influences. It had a variety of tagines, hummus, and veggie-friendly dishes. We ordered the pork stuffed with plums and the veggie spaghetti which was something out of our comfort zone but it totally converted us and convinced us to make our own zucchini noodles at home. To finish off our meal we had the “out-of-this-world” homemade tiramisu and enjoyed every last bit. Our waiter, who was wonderful, helped make our experience even better. He told us about his childhood in Oaxaca, Mexico and even spoke with us in Spanish! As a final treat he shared with us his mother’s homemade limoncello which was the best limoncello we had in the entire trip. If you’re looking to experience different cuisines, make your way over to Culinaria and enjoy a wonderful meal.
If you’ve been to Eataly then the Mercato Centrale will feel awfully similar. They have many tables in the middle of the market with food stands all around the perimeter. The stands have pasta, steaks, burgers, pizza, dessert, and many other options. We ordered a pizza and while we waited bought some drinks and arancini to start the meal. It was a good meal but would probably explore other options before coming back.
I’Brindellone was our FAVORITE meal and we say that without hesitation. We knew when we walked there and were turned away because they were booked/all full capacity that we were in for something good. We made a reservation for the following day and couldn’t wait to come back. When we arrived for dinner the second time, we were immediately greeted at the front door and walked to our table. We knew from a post by Georgette (Girl In Florence) that we were going to order the truffle pasta and bistecca a la florentina. For the sake of our health we decided to order burrata with arugula and tomato and it did not disappoint. Then came the stars of the night – the pasta and steak. Mind you the steak was not for the faint of heart as it was about 3 pounds and the smallest one available so we took one for the team and ordered it anyways. The steak was flavorful, tender and a perfect protein to accompany the pasta. If you ever find yourself in Florence make sure you make a reservation at this restaurant and go indulge in a Florentine staple.
My one request for Edwin on this trip was that I get a handmade leather. Since it was the Ferre Agosto (August break) many restaurants and stores were closed for 1-2 weeks at a time. Lucky for me Clara from Digerolamo came back to her store the day before we were set to leave Florence. I walked into her store/workshop and immediately knew this was what I was looking for. She was ever so gracious and accommodating, she answered all of my questions and made me feel very appreciated. I was very excited and nervous to place my order but it all went super smoothly. Inside the store you could see the workers doing their craft in such an artistic and unique way that is rarely seen nowadays. Clara informed me that since my purse was going to be made-to-order she would have to ship it to Chicago. I had wanted to carry it around in Italy but can now say that it was worth the wait.
Bloggers with fab blogs about Florence:
Georgette from Girl in Florence
Nardia from Lost in Florence