I always love to go back to a city that impressed me the first time. It’s been 10 years since I have been in Florence and I was exited to show Florence to Hielke. It honestly is possible to stay in Florence for a week and not get bored. Because of its prominent role in the history of Italy (and Europe) you will find many, many interesting museums and architecture. There seems to be a point of interest on every corner and the city has a great architecture. After Florence, we left for the countryside, but Florence would also be a good hub to explore the neighboring cities and do some day trips.

Practical information

Florence/Firenze is the current capital city of the region Tuscany, but it has even been the capital of Italy for a short amount of time in the 19th century. Florence is often called the “Birthplace of the Renaissance” and has a rich history in arts as stimulated by the rich Medici family who ruled in Florence for centuries. You will find many cultural and historical references throughout the city, making it a truly special place to visit.

We drove into Florence, as we were visiting Florence as a part of a roadtrip. However I wouldn’t necessarily recommend driving in Florence as parking is hard and expensive. Our hotel arranged a parking garage for us and because of this we were allowed to drive in the mostly car-free historical city center. We paid € 25 per night for a parking garage really close to our hotel, which was pretty convenient, though expensive. 10 years ago I flew into Florence, I can remember the transport from the airport to the city center to be really bad, but I heard it has improved over the years.

If you can, I would advise to go to Florence by train! Italy has a very good network of trains between large cities and they are really affordable. For example you can get to Rome in 3 hours, Pisa in 1 hour and Siena in 1,5 hours.

We visited Florence in September 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. The weather was absolutely amazing (sunshine and around 30 degrees Celsius every day) and I would highly recommend visiting just outside of the high season. However Florence is a good place to visit year-round as I also had glorious skies when I visited in February years ago. Just know that it can get really wet in autumn, with November being the month with the most (chance of) rain. The nature is really green at that time of the year, so that should say something.

Where we stayed

There was one thing that I knew for sure and that was that I wanted to stay in the small hotel/B&B La Terrazza sul Duomo. Staying in this hotel gives you access to a rooftop with amazing views of the Duomo of Florence. We booked the smallest room possible for about € 100 per night including taxes, excluding breakfast. I have to admit I found the hotel a bit impersonal, the hotel is very small and the decorations are a bit off. We hardly ever ran into the personnel, but the room was conveniently equipped with a hair dryer, a little fridge and a comfortable bed. However, I would recommend booking this hotel if you are into views! I went to the balcony several times, during sunset and sunrise, as I loved it that much. As the hotel is very small, you won’t run into too many other guests on the rooftop and we often had it to ourselves! I think you need to see the pictures before you decide yourself.

The hotel is located in one of the main shopping streets of Florence, Via Roma, so you will find yourself in the good company of Luisa Via Roma, Prada & Armani.

Things to do in Florence

Whatever you decide to do, I would recommend to take at least one day to wake up early! Florence is a tourist hotspot and even when we visited during the COVID pandemic the square at the Duomo got really busy with day tourists during the day. We decided to walk the town from 8-10AM for a day, which gives you the best photo opportunities, soft lighting and the peaceful sounds of a city just waking up. We even ran into the mozzarella express that was supplying all the restaurants 😉

Ponte Vecchio: Florence’s famous bridge. We visited it in the morning, before it was covered in tourists. I absolutely loved the reflections of the bridge in the water, such as quintessential Florence view! Later in the day, the jewelry stores on the bridge open up and it gets really crowded.

Il Duomo: You can visit the cathedral for free, but there is usually a queue. I heard that it usually clears pretty quickly after opening, but we didn’t go in. If you don’t have a hotel with a view, I would recommend taking an early walk around the beautiful cathedral, to admire it from every corner.

Palazzo Vecchio: We brought a visit to the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s medieval City Hall. I wish we could have done the secret passageways tour, but it was sold out for the days we were in Florence. If you are a Dan Brown fan like me, I would recommend booking your tickets for this tour a few weeks in advance. We bought the regular entrance tickets for € 10 per person and we adored the beautiful frescos and decorations that can still be seen. In the Palazzo Vecchio you will find the (fake?) death mask of Dante Alighieri, as seen in Inferno. Just outside of the Palazzo Vecchio you can see a replica of the David of Michelangelo.

Uffizi: The Uffizi is the most famous museum in Florence and it hosts artworks by many old masters. I visited the Uffizi 10 years ago and I can remember that it was incredibly busy and I couldn’t really enjoy the artworks because of the enormous crowds. I also don’t love art works that are very classic and religious, so the Uffizi was a bit of a miss for me. In the case that you do want to visit, make sure you book your tickets online and pick a timeslot early in the day.

Giardino di Boboli: I didn’t get to visit the Boboli gardens this year, though I would recommend to visit them if you have never been. It is a truly special piece of landscaping in which many typical Tuscan plants are used. You also get a great lookout over the city and its surroundings. Again, if you are a Dan Brown fan, this is a must visit! You could easily include the Boboli gardens in a 36 hour visit to Florence, but we got a bit lazy due to the amazing weather.

Piazzale Michelangelo: We visited the Piazzale Michelangelo just before sunset. The Piazzale is a great lookout over the city, you get to see all those iconic Florence landmarks from this spot. There is even a little cafe, some stands where you can buy drinks and a big stairs which is full of people. We walked down the stairs a little bit, so we could enjoy the view by ourselves. If you are visiting in rose season, there is a little rose garden offering views over the city, just below the Piazzale. It is quite a walk up from the city to the viewpoint (especially on a hot day), but absolutely worth it. If you are visiting for sunset the neighborhood below the viewpoint seems very nice for a romantic dinner!

Van Gogh e i Maledetti: This was our wildcard visit. We ran into some Van Gogh sunflowers in a small street near the Ponte Vecchio and discovered there was a small museum behind it. The museum consists of one big multimedia show which brings Van Gogh’s paintings to life, being projected on some sort of church. A ticket costs € 13 for adultsm but there are family discounts as well. If you are a Van Gogh fan or if you are visiting Florence with kids I would definitely recommend this museum.

Food recommendations

We pretty much ate our bodyweight in food, because you can have delicious food in Florence. As I was pregnant, I unfortunately couldn’t have wine, cold cuts and crazy cheeses.. so we decided not to do any wine tastings. Will come back for that next time!

Breakfast: I prefer to have a fresh sandwich + spremuta in a little bakery, but they don’t open up until about 9AM. The breakfasts on the touristy terraces are less tasty, but you do get the opportunity to enjoy your breakfast with views of the Duomo or Palazzo Vecchio. A little breakfast with a hot drink and juice with a view costs about € 13 per person.

Mangiafuoco Bracerie: I spotted this restaurant by day and we went back at night. The food is quintessential Italian, with many Florentine specialties. Come early, because they only have a few tables outside on the little square next to the restaurant. I think we sat down at 7.30PM. It is really affordable and the bruscettas are divine!

SimBIOsi Organic Ristorante e Pizzeria: When we are looking for a restaurant we usually just walk away from the main square for a bit and that is how we found this restaurant. The service here is really kind and the wild boar pasta a recommendation.

Caffe’ del Carrozze icecream: This was the best icecream we had in Italy on this holiday, unfortunately this already happened on day 3 🙁 The ice cream shop is located next to the Ponte Vecchio and the chocolate ice cream was some of the best I ever had!

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