Florence, I love you. I may or may not have looked up homes in Florence. I cannot afford to live with you…yet. One day I will return. I know that for a lot of you, exploring a new country can be overwhelming, so I wanted to give you a little walking tour of what I did while in Florence. I’m hopeful that this can help you navigate this majestic city and give you the greatest experience. I implore you to follow these steps, this city will take your breath away. Do be prepared for lots of walking, lots of wine, lots of feels.
Walk the windy roads until you get to the Florence Cathedral (Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy). Embrace this view. This is the part of my trip that brought tears to my eyes. You walk along the cobblestone roads, taking pictures of all the unique buildings, staring at all the beautiful Italian people, pumping yourself up for some gelato or steak, when you see it. The road seems to widen, and there is an empty space where the line of buildings should continue, but don’t. This is because they are making way for the the most awe-inspiring, glistening gold, twinkle of stars in the shape of building you will see. The Duomo. A green and white building that was built with imposing structure. When you’re use to two story buildings and then a monumental, architecturally astounding building emerges – it takes your breath away. This is not from me, but I will reiterate, going inside is not important. Unless you want to walk to the top of the dome (which would mean you wouldn’t be seeing the most beautiful structure in Florence, you’d be standing on it), don’t waste your money going inside. Instead go take a beautiful picture and walk around the building…until you find the gelato located on the back side. It’s affordable and delicious with unique flavors like lavender and honey and the service was amazing (Emily, if you’re reading this, Girl. Go to France. It’s where your heart is.) It’s the one located right next to Magnum – sorry Magnum, you can’t sit with us.
This is your treat, while you walk to the most delicious and Tuscan fast food place you’ll find. All’Antico Vinaio. I’ll say it again for the folks in the back: All’Antico Vinaio. This is a restaurant with three store fronts. One on the right and two on the left. There will be lines, jump in the shortest one and wait. This place will sell you a genuine Tuscan sandwich-ish thing. It’s on a bread unique to Tuscany and the mushrooms and meat are so gently taken care of – just eat here, good lord. It’s an assembly line with a bread cutter, a meat stuffer, and then a topping…topper? At the end of the line, you pour your own drink (if you wish) into a plastic cup and that is the lunch special for 7 Euro. Some people may tell you, “eat on the street like a local” yeah no. I just read an article how it is illegal to get all the pesky tourists to stop eating on the street. It may be hard to resist, but at least walk and eat.
While you eat this, continue your journey down to Santa Croce church. Now, this is a church worth walking into. This is the final resting place for Michelangelo,Galileo, Dante, Machiavelli and many others. It holds gorgeous stained glass and history. A cast made of silver that forms a woman’s face, with this lady (extremely wealthy family and the oldest daughter decided to become the first nun of Florence). I was hurried up to leave, but could have stayed for hours longer. Not to mention, the plaza outside the church is beautiful. The rustic homes that surround the plaza are endearing and I love them.
**Sidenote** when we were there, there was a film being created starring Ryan Reynolds and Dave Franco for a Netflix special, so cool seeing the set behind the scenes.
Next, sashay yourself down the Ponte Vecchio (a bridge with a passage way above it. This passage way was built for the extremely wealthy Medici family. This allowed them a safe walk from the peasants below. Also, they had a law created that made the only shop owners legally allowed on the bridge below to be gold and jewelry sellers. This reigns true today, as we definitely passed a Rolex store on the way. This bridge has survived many natural disasters and even WWII – it was the only bridge not ruined in Florence by the Nazi trying to escape the invading British Army. Fun additional note, they often have musicians on this bridge at nighttime. Swing by when the sun goes down for some fun (english) music.
Anywho, by now, you’ve enjoyed your sandwich-ish treat and so its’ time to walk it off. Head to the Boboli Gardens for a majestic view and hopefully watch the sun set. The Boboli Gardens house acres and acres of beautiful gardens. Pro tip: Ask a local how to get there, maps will show you a way that takes you far away, but you can go in the “exit” and its right in the middle of everything. At first, I was overwhelmed. Just start walking. There are lots of steps and steep pathways, but when you get to the top, it is the most beautiful view of Florence. Get up there with plenty of time to see the city and the sunset. Please, please, please do this.
Afterward, grab some wine or a local beer from a convenience store, because you can drink on the street here (just not on church steps) and head down to another plaza the Piazza Santo Spirito. This place was so active with young adults. The vibe was priceless. And the steak. Go take a seat at Borgo Antico. Order the steak, the chard veggies, the liver pate, anything (but also everything) and eat your heart out. It’s not ridiculously priced and it is divine. Afterward, head out to the fountain and enjoy some music and people watching. While we were there, there was a woman playing some Italian music and she had a note, that roughly translated to “Money comes and goes, but I’ll be able to read kind words when I am old.” with a notebook for people to write thank you notes in. It was wonderful.
There you have it – a day in Florence. Of course each location and turn has hundreds of churches and architecture to see, this was just my experience and more of a launching pad for you to explore this wonderful city. For all you mothers and fathers out there, it was damn near impossible to find some baby wipes at any of the local stores, so here is a list of some helpful items to take with you on your day through Florence.
These items will help you get through your quick trip through Florence:
- Baby Wipes — see above
- Tide Pen — all that wine; you’ll thank me later
- Lonely Planet — a novel on traveling in Italy
- Compression bags — also a how to on packing within a book bag can be found here
- Simple Italian Phrases — They sincerely appreciate the effort
- Small Umbrella — The rain came in and out so quickly, but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss anything
- Sunglasses — These are so cute, omg and so affordable. If you’re like me and have a limited shelf life on your sunglasses, these babies are for you.
- Comfy Shoes — These Birkenstocks were so good for walking and really made me feel like an Italian
- SPF — When I got a facial (my only one, it was awesome) she recommended this lotion to me. It is amazing. You want to avoid those wrinkles.
- Bookbag — A lightweight, but stylish bag will keep you feeling good. The black bottom on this one won’t get dirty when you inevitably put it on the ground.