Tour of Italy Part III: Florence
Today I wrap up the Tour of Italy series, with a final stop in one of my very favorite cities in this whole wide world….Florence. In case you missed it, here are links to previous posts from the Tour of Italy series, Rome and Naples.
In truth, Florence really is one of my very favorite places to visit. It’s at least in my top 5, and may very well be in my top 3 (after Paris and London). What’s also miraculous to me, is what a different atmosphere Florence has when compared to Rome. If you consider that the two cities are just a few hours (driving) apart, there really is a world of difference. What was most evident to me on my latest visit to Florence was how visually different Florence is from Rome. Rome is filled with candy-colored buildings is an array of sorbet hues, while the buildings and decor in Florence tend towards earth tones of warm grays and browns and burnt umber.
What To See & Do in Florence
Florence truly is an art-lovers’ paradise, and there is no shortage of beautiful art and architecture to be found here. Just walking down the street you’ll stumble across a myriad of significant buildings and palaces and sculptures. Take time to meander in Florence. My favorite is to explore Florence at night. It’s a city where I feel very safe to walk around after dark. After getting dinner, revisit the sights and admire their beauty in the moonlight. The city is peaceful and amazingly tourist-fee after 9pm.
I also love shopping in Florence. From the street vendors and public markets selling leather purses and wallets, to the fashionable boutiques selling every beautiful item you could desire. Some favorites of mine are Pratesi selling gorgeous handbags, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica, an impressive old perfumery and skincare store, and the leather market at Mercato del Porcellino. And while on the topic of markets in Florence, the Central Market in Florence is certainly worth a visit.
Unlike other regions of Italy, Florence may be best known for it’s meat, specifically Bistecca alla Fiorentina. This dish is a T-bone steak and refers to a particular cut of meat (don’t ask me what cut that is, by the way), and can be found on many menus around Florence. While in Florence, the very best meal we had was at Trattoria 13 Gobbi, a wonderfully cozy spot with delicious food. We also dined at Trattoria Marione, a great spot for a casual dining experience with Tuscan classics in a lively atmosphere. Finally, an all time favorite is a spot called Gurdulu near Piazza Santo Spirito. My husband and I came here several years ago when we were honeymooning in Florence and had a beautiful and memorable meal. Make sure to book reservations in advance.
No visit to Italy would be complete without gelato. My favorite gelato shop in Florence is Gelateria La Carraia, just across the Ponte Alla Carraia. You can eat your gelato while walking along the Arno River and taking-in the views.
Florence has some of the most beautiful, ancient cafes I’ve visited anywhere, matched only by those I saw in Vienna. Plan to visit at least a few of these and spend some time lingering, as the atmosphere and environs are so beautiful and inspiring. My husband and I both love Caffe Gilli in Piazza della Repubbilica. When we’re in Florence, we come here at least once a day and either grab a spot at the bar for a 1€ macchiato or grab a table to enjoy a fancy late night dessert. Right nearby (and conveniently located in the same piazza as the David sculpture) is Caffe Rivoire. This is another wonderful historic cafe, and their cantucci (like biscotti, only smaller) are my very favorite in Italy.
On the other end of the spectrum is the rising popularity of third wave coffee in Italy, and Florence has a small handful of these cafes. My favorite is Ditta Artigianale located at Via dello Sprone, 5/R. In fact, there are now several locations of Ditta Artigianale around Florence.
I hope that this post gets you excited for a trip to Florence. It really is one of the most wonderful and magical places on the planet. In case I’ve not included one of your favorite things to see/do/eat in Florence, feel free to leave it in the comments below so that we can all enjoy it during our next visit.