Florence or Firenze is such a pretty city! The architecture is amazing and everything is a work of art. We came here and got amazing views, good food, and cheap leather. There are so much things to see and do here.
Piazza del Duomo, Florence
If you only had a couple of hours in Florence, this piazza is the place you would want to go to. Just seeing Giotto’s Campanile, the Florence Baptistery and the Florence Duomo alone is worth a visit to this Piazza.
You can climb/visit all those places if you buy a pass in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (the museum admission was included as well). I would suggest buying this pass early though as we were able to do everything but climb up inside the Duomo.
Giotto’s Campanile is a bell tower that is considered the most beautiful campanile in Italy with it’s gothic architecture and white, red and green marble structure.
One thing to know if you’re going to climb it: there are SO many stairs! But it’s so worth it. The stairs are pretty narrow in some areas, but there are platforms about every quarter of the way up for you to rest and enjoy the view at those points. Once you finally reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with an AMAZING view of Florence, including a gorgeous view of the top of the duomo.
View’s from the top:
This baptistry is one of the oldest buildings in Florence with Romanesque architecture. It also is an octagon shape.
Luckily, there was a short line for this and we were able to go inside. The church itself was nice, but it was incredible when you looked up at the gold painted ceiling. There were so many details that were on point. Even though there was construction, they painted what it would eventually look like on the wall instead of just covering that part up.
Florence Cathedral – Brunschelli’s Duomo
The Florence Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Florence. It has a green, pink and white exterior and one of the largest brick domes.
The inside of the dome is painted by Brunschelli. Our pass actually allowed us to walk up the duomo to see the painting more closely, but unfortunately it was sold out that day. It was still amazing from where we stood though.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo contains a lot of the original sculptures and art of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (now known as the Florence Duomo). There’s 3 floors of over 750 pieces of art.
Shopping on the streets for leather
Florence is known for their leather. If you’re interested in some leather goods, you can find some on the streets. The quality is pretty good and there are some cute designs. Don’t back down with haggling for a good price. We were able to get a couple of items for 50% off from what they were initially asking. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, walk away – they’ll probably chase after you to make the sale.
Grab some food, bring a bottle of wine and enjoy a sunset at the Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s probably the best view of the city from here and I’m sure everyone else agrees as it’s crowded with people doing the same.
Bailica di San Lorenzo, Firenze
This is one of the largest churches in Florence. We didn’t get a chance to go inside to look, but we passed by it a lot as it was near our hostel.
Piazza della Repubblica, Florence
This is a city square in Florence with one of the city’s first forums (an area to sell goods). We were able to find sound cute vendors to browse in this area.
This is a super cool stone bridge over the Arno River that has shops built on it. There were plenty of jewelry, art and gold to look at. Aside from the shops, it’s such a cute and pretty view.
This is the town hall of Italy. It also has a replica of Michaelangelo’s David sculpture out front and a museum with more art pieces inside.
Loggia dei Lanzi
This is right next to the Palazzo Vecchio with large arches and displays of more sculptures. This is outside and free for the public to look at.
This is considered one of the most important museums with many Italian Renaissance art. We didn’t go, but I suggest purchasing your tickets early because the line was long!
This building that was once a palace has turned into a museum. Also next to this is the Biboli Gardens.
Shopping along Vasari Corridor
If bargaining for cheap leather isn’t your thing, you can shop along the Vasari Corridor and step into actual shops. This corridor contains shops with leather goods as soft as butter (comes at a price though – the purse I wanted was over $600!), Italian crafted shoes and pretty paper stationary.
After all that exploring and shopping, you’re probably wondering where you should eat…
There’s 2 floors in the Mercato Centrale. The first floor is the market where people can buy their groceries and the second floor is restaurants where we went for lunch. There are so many options – sandwiches, pasta, pizza, cheese plates, sushi, dim sum, etc., but we went to Il Tartufo because it was truffle season!
Lunch at Il Tartufo
Excited for fresh shaved truffles!
Below: Eggs with white truffle (left) and risotto with black truffle (right).
The eggs were so soft and was light enough where you can taste the amazing flavor of the white truffle. The risotto (although a little too al dente for me) was really good as well. I loved the black truffle sauce and the fresh black truffle shaved on top. If you’re wondering whether you should get white or black truffles, both are good, but the white one has a stronger truffle flavor.
Snack at Da Nerbone
[Located on the first floor] i can see why there is such a long line for this place! I got a lampredotto which is a sandwich with thinly sliced tripe (intestines) that is boiled in broth and spicy red sauce and/or herbal green sauce added. The meat was so tender, juicy and flavorful. Don’t let knowing that it’s intestines scare you. This was one of my favorite meals of the trip.
Surprisingly, there are no gelato shops in this market, but are plenty of desserts so grab a cannoli instead. You’ll be satisfied with a nice crunch shell and the creamiest and lightly sweetened ricotta filling.
Santo Spirito Square
Santo Spirito Square is a square (literally) where locals go to grab a meal that won’t break the bank. We came here for dinner one night and lunch the next day.
Dinner at Spirito Sas Le Cevaie
For dinner, I decided to forgo carbs for a night and go straight for the meat. I shared a Florentine Steak which is one of the things they are known for. The minimum size steak you can get is 24 oz which is way too much for one person. It comes unseasoned, but it tasted really good with a little salt and a crack of pepper. The steak was cooked a perfect medium rare which I prefer and I left no piece of meat behind.
Florence is also known for their Chianti wine and upon our waitresses’ recommendation (there are a lot of choices to choose from), we got a bottle and I loved it! I’m not a huge wine person (especially reds), but I found myself wanting another glass! It was such a delicious meal and it left me room for dessert later since I didn’t eat any carbs.
Lunch at GustaOsteria
I was back to eating carbs the next day and got the pappardelle with wild boar. I loved the pappardelle as I love thick pasta and the boar was actually really tender. I’m not sure what the sauce was on this dish, but it tied the dish together really well and I was satisfied having another pasta meal.
As with everywhere in Italy, get gelato!! I love how you can get a “small” and they will give you 2 huge scoops.
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Archi Rossi Hostel which was really convenient to the train and also to all the places we went to. The location is great and the hostel itself is decent. There’s free breakfast which is nice and a pretty courtyard. I would recommend this place if you’re on a budget. You get what you pay for.
Florence is probably one of the prettiest cities with lots to explore and shop and eat. We were able to do a lot in just a day and a half and I’m glad we made the stop.
Check out my other Italy posts
Things you should know: Random things to know before visiting Italy
Cinque Terre: One day in Cinque Terre, Italy
Lucca: What do to in Lucca, Italy
Pisa: Day trip to Pisa, Italy
Rome: What to see and do in Rome, Italy
Milan: Half a day in Milan, Italy