ROAD TRIP ITALY – FRANCE
STOP No2: FLORENCE
Of course, the Florence charm plays a great part in that. You’re bound to stay downtown, the city calls you to get lost in its medieval maze, following the footsteps of some of its most well-known former inhabitants – Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante, Giotto, Boticcelli. Florence is like a living canvas, the capital of art and the birthplace of Renaissance. Altogether, the city combines features that will make you fall for it the second you set foot there.
This post contains my suggestions on how to spend your day – or days – in Florence. Where to eat, drink, walk, enjoy the view and a glass of wine while there. It will help you schedule your day if you’re also planning a Road Trip in Italy.
So, brace yourselves – Florence is pure magic!
WHAT TO SEE
• Piazza del Duomo where the Cattedrale di Santa Maria di Fiore – or Florence’s Cathedral – is located. The Roman Catholic Cathedral – an excellent example of Renaissance architecture as well as the city’s trademark. Each and every road will lead you there, along with the hundreds crowding to savour the view. You can also climb the 400 steps that will lead you to the Cathedral’s steeple, to enjoy the panoramic view. At Duomo you’ll also find the Battistero di San Giovanni, one of the oldest buildings in Florence with its signature Gates, designed by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
• From there you can walk down to the most famous square in Florence or Piazza de la Signiora. Take a few breaths at the Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Neptuno) – designed by Bartolomeo Ammanati – and look up: the enormous and quite impressive Palazzo Vecchio – the Old Palace – stands there, with its sky-high Arnolfo Tower.
• Don’t skip a visit to Gallery Uffizi in the Palazzo degli Uffizi where thousands of Tiziano, Boticceli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo artworks are displayed along with unique collections of Greek, Roman and Baroque pieces of art. There are huge lines to the Gallery in August, so if you decide to visit it at the time, book your ticket online.
• Continue or end your walk in Ponte Vecchio – the bridge over the Arno river connecting the two sides of Florence. Spend a few moments to capture its beauty, admire it standing there for centuries, having survived years and years – even after World War II. Walk on it from morning to evening to enjoy the view, even if that means you’re going to get lost in the crowd. Do visit the countless jewelry shops along the sides of the bridge and of course, visit the bridge during the sundown – the view is magnificent. (In Ponte Vecchio I also wrote my postcards to those of you who messaged me on that day!)
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
The view from Piazzale Michelangelo
Fontana di Neptuno
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
There are countless options for food in Florence – there are restaurants – and pizza – in every corner. I may be quite wary when it comes to food but I ain’t no critic or crazy foodie, so my suggestions are based on a combination of quality with good customer service and price. Florence hides a few great restaurants, as well as some pretty bad ones.
This is where I ate, I loved it and I’m definitely visiting again.
• Fave Street Food: All’Antico Vinaio
My hashtag #MaryhopOntheRoad on Instagram featured a few snapshots of this yummy Foodhop, since I loved it. Icredible sandwiches to-die-for with crunchy bread with oil and traditional Italian delicacies such as prosciutto, rocket salad and sun-dried tomatoes. You create your own sandwich, drink your wine in plastic glasses on the side of the road and you’ll thank me later!
• Fave Food: Antico Ristorante Paoli
A restaurant of unique beauty which you’ll find on the list of Florence’s oldest and most historic restaurants. Launched in 1824 (!), it became known after the 1900’s when it transformed from a delicatessen to a historic restaurant, decorated with mural paintings and ceramics. Among its most frequent visitors were Puccini and Marinetti and, if nothing of the above persuaded you, then this will surely do: BEST GNOCCHI in town. Great food, excellent service – sign of the restaurant’s prestige. Waiters of older age, incredibly polite with a passion for food and the restaurant itself. I highly recommend it.
• Fave Gelato: La Carraia
I tasted a few different ice creams to end up choosing La Carraia as my favorite in Florence. Located on the other side of Ponte Vecchio, near the historic centre, it offers great variety of chocolate-flavored gelato and of course, super creamy pistacchio which was my father’s favorite and right there, in Florence, I realised the reason why.
• Fave Wine Spot: Piazza di Santo Spirito
One of the most lively neighborhoods of the city, on the other side of Ponte Vecchio – so you can combine it with a gelato in La Carraia – you’ll enjoy a glass of Italian wine or cocktail if you wish, admiring the view of the church – a masterpiece of Fillipo Brunelleschi.
All’ Antico Vinaio
Antico Ristorani Paoli
La Carraia Gelato
Florence is a city you’ll love – no doubt for that. There’s no chance it will let you down as it has some great images and views in store for you. With a bit of careful selection, you’ll taste some amazing traditional Italian food too. You’ll feel a bit frustrated at first, as the majority of restaurants closes at noon at late in the evening but you’ll forgive her.
I can’t wait it to visit Florence again, spend a few days more and taste more of these pistacchio gelatos.
Next stop? The super-amazing and colourful Cinque Terre. Stay tuned for stop number 3!
Soon on Maryhop!
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