Florence was our second stop on our 2022 trip to Italy and it ended up being our favorite city of the three we visited, with our favorite place overall being Cinque Terre. We came on the train straight from Rome, which was a super short trip at just over an hour.
Our hotel in Florence was by far our favorite place we stayed, and when we arrived they gave us a free upgrade so our room was pretty much the same size as the apartment we were living in at the time. It’s just a 5 minute walk from the Duomo, and has a rooftop terrace/bar with views of the Duomo (pictured above).
The hotel is on the pricier side but worth it for the location, and especially after our sketchy hotel in Rome it was nice to be able to relax in a nice bed and air conditioning. We stayed in the Grand Hotel Cavour.
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and left on Wednesday morning which limited the sights we were able to see since churches are closed on Sundays and museums are closed on Mondays. However we still visited the following:
- Boboli Gardens
- Ponte Vecchio
- Pizza della Signoria
- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – church with the Duomo
- Basilica of Santa Croce
- Uffizi Gallery
- Pizzale Michelangelo – free park with the best views of the city
Two places I would suggest also visiting are Palazzo Pitti and the Academia. Boboli Gardens are part of the Palazzo Pitti, but they operate separately and were open on Monday so we were able to visit.
Some of our best meals we have ever eaten were in Florence, and it was definitely the best food we ate on our trip (yes, it even beat Greece). My husband made it his job on to find out what each region was known for, and then find the best restaurants associated with that food. Florence is known for its steak.
- Gelateria dei Neri – we ate here twice on Monday, and would have gone back on Tuesday except it was closed. Every flavor was delicious and it’s just a minute away from the sandwiches pictured above (which you also definitely get).
- Gelateria La Carraia
- All’Antico Vinaio (pictured above) – there will be a long line when you visit but it goes quick and these sandwiches are worth it. You may want to consider sharing one, they are huge and neither of us were able to finish ours.
- La Giostra – this place is pretty famous but it wasn’t our favorite as both of our pastas were extremely salty. The burrata was yummy though.
- La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant – go here and order the Bistecca alla fiorentina. Trust me (or rather, my husband). This was by far our favorite meal of our 9 days in Italy, everything we ate here was amazing.
Italy, specifically Florence, is known for its leather. But what may (but probably shouldn’t) surprise you is that most of the leather stores you’ll walk by in Florence are fake. If you don’t care about that and are just looking for a 40 euro ‘leather’ purse with the words Florence on it, no big deal. However if you want the real thing, you need to look a little harder. There are many genuine leather shops in Florence, but after a bit of research my husband found Scuola del Cuoio, a school for those who want to become leather artisans. It is free to visit, and they even give free tours. We happened to stop by on the first day of school so it was cool to see the students in action. If you do buy anything, they will monogram it for free.
Tips and Tricks
- We did not buy a city pass in Florence, but I did purchase our tickets for the Duomo, Boboli Gardens, and Uffizi ahead of time so we could skip the lines. Uffizi is one of the most popular museums in the world so you’ll save a lot of time doing this.
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is free to enter, however if you want to go to the top of Duomo (pictured above) you need to purchase a ticket and reserve a time slot in advance. I don’t recommend the climb if you are claustrophobic.
- There are fewer free water fountains in Florence than in Rome, but you can find one in Pizza della Signoria.
- If you have more time, you may want to consider adding on a day trip to Pisa or another smaller city in Tuscany!
What is your favorite place in Italy, or what is your dream destination there?