This city stole my heart.
During my junior year spring semester I studied abroad here for three months and it became one of my homes.
Things to know before you go:
- Italians dress modestly and fashionably. That being said, don’t you dare where flip flops and try your best to not look like a tourist.
- The roses are not free. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you go.
- Embrace the culture, eat strange things, and don’t expect to have dinner before 7.
Below you will find my recommendations for eating and exploring in this incredible city.
1. Duomo di Firenze/the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Visiting the Duomo is MUST. You can buy a ticket that will allow you to go inside the Duomo and the baptistry, and climb the Duomo and the bell tower. Be prepared, the stairs are exhausting, but the views are to die for.
2. Ponte Vecchio
Literally means “old bridge”. The Ponte Vecchio is full of gold and leather shops, and also packed with tourists. Do go see it, it’s iconic, but you don’t need to spend a lot of time (or money) here. Trust me, the gelato looks beautiful, but it’s overpriced and there is better gelato elsewhere.
3. Uffizi Gallery
This art gallery is huge and contains some of the most incredible Italian masterpieces, including those of Michaelangelo and Botticelli. If there’s one museum you go to, this is the one.
4. Piazzale Michaelangelo
This was my favorite spot in Florence. I spent several nights, including the very last one, up here with my friends watching the tuscan sunset and drinking wine on the steps. Sometimes there was someone up there playing music too, which made it even more magical. And to make it better, it’s totally free.
5. Central Market
Leather and other Italian specialties galore. This is the place to pick up your souvenirs and your brand new fabulous Italian leather bag 😉 Don’t be afraid to bargain!
6. Boboli Gardens
I never made it to this place… but I’ve heard it is stunning when the flowers are blooming.
7. Piazzas and Churches!
Aside from a few, most churches in Florence you can just go inside and look around and they are truly beautiful. Piazza Santo Spirito is where I lived while studying abroad. It’s full of great restaurants and there’s a market outside every morning (except Sundays). The church there has a piece by Michaelangelo inside!
Quite honestly, you can’t go wrong walking into any Osteria or Trattoria in Florence. If it looks touristy, don’t go in. These were some of my favorites:
1. Osteria Santo Spirito $$
This cheesy gnocchi came out bubbling hot and sent me straight to heaven. You can get half portions if you want less food… or multiple courses.
2. 4 Leoni $$$
The Pear and Asparagus Fiocchetti is all you need in life.
3. Olio & Convivium $$$
I came here for a few wine and food tastings with my class (life was so good). I never actually had a meal here but what I tasted was incredible and they do a fantastic job at wine pairing.
4. Johnny Bruschetta $$
I came here for a class and for lunch another time. Bruschetta is a traditional Italian food, but this place takes it to the next level. They also serve some killer cheesecake.
5. Pino’s $
PANINI. An Italian panino is what Americans call a panini but really panini is just plural panino… These are cheap, ridiculously good, and you can get pretty much whatever you want on them. Also try SandwiChic (the one with proscuitto di parma, pear jam, pecorino cheese) and Antico Vinaio.
6. Gusta Pizza $
This was our favorite little pizza joint. Get your pizza and take it outside to eat in the Piazza. The guys who work there are so sweet and will make your pizza into a heart shape if you ask!
Lots of delicious gelato for just a couple euros.
8. Gelateria La Carraia $
This was my favorite place for gelato. It’s just a little more expensive and you don’t get quite as much as at Santa Trinita, but it’s the best gelato I had in Italy.