Florence, Italy (Jen Lane)
Everything you see I owe to pasta.
- More about your oliver guide: Jen Lane
- Trip type: Adult, City
- Activity level: moderate
- Ideal length of trip: 5 DAYS
to & from
- Air France SFO-Paris-Florence.
- You don’t need a car when you are in Florence- you can get everywhere on foot. Take taxi from Florence airport to hotel.
- Alternative airport to fly into is Pisa which is about a 30 minute train ride to Florence. You want to take the Firenze SMN (Santa Maria Novella) train. Once in Florence- jump in taxi from train station (beware of the gypsies at the train station!)
Where to Stay
Antica Torre Via Tornabuoni: Via Tornabuoni is central in Florence and an absolutely gorgeous street. The rooms are amazing and there’s nothing better than the view from the roof deck…you feel like you can practically touch the Duomo. Don’t miss the breakfast or the afternoon wine on the upstairs roof.
Where to Eat and Drink
I lived in Florence for a year and still dream of the food & drink. Here are some of my favorites:
- Osteria Santo Spirito: A little unknown piazza on the other side of the Arno which was one of my favorite retreats during my year abroad. You can get away from the tourists a little and soak up how the true Florentines live. You must sit outside and order the gnocchi.
- Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco: Fun, loud and authentic food. Also on the other side of the Arno. Get the pappardelle al ragu di chingale…and lots of red wine, of course.
- 4Leoni: Small restaurant in cute square, great staff and amazing food. Order the pear ravioli (sounds random, but amazing) and burrata.
- Gelato- Gelateria la Carraia: You really can’t go wrong with any gelato place in Florence, but this is one of my favorites.
- Lunch- Antique Noes– in little tunnel for sandwiches to go.
- Vini e Vecchi Sapori: small restaurant, hard to find- off of Piazza Signoria. Amazing food and fun to walk home thru piazzas at night with all the vendors selling gadgets, etc.
- Yellow Bar: one of my favorite spots in Florence for authentic pizza…you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
What to Do
You can spend your entire trip to Florence going to museums, but I truly enjoy just spending my time in Florence wandering the streets, shopping, eating, drinking and taking it all in.
- Museums/Walking Tours: This is going to sound so touristy, but Rick Steves does an amazing walking tour and tour of the Uffizi in an Audio Tour. Highly recommend. Definitely go to the Uffizi and be sure you order tickets in advance. The lines can be crazy and if you are going to go to any museum- this is the one to go to.
- Walk to the top of the Duomo: Don’t do this if you are claustrophobic or scared of heights…but the picture & view at the top is worth it.
- Sit in a piazza- The people watching in Florence is amazing...drink the wine, sit back and relax.
- Piazza Michelangelo: Before the city wakes up, I love to walk up to the Piazza Michelangelo where you get the most incredible views of Florence. On the flip side- it’s also an amazing place at sunset to take in- grab a bottle of wine, sit on the stairs and watch the sunset over Florence.
- Siesta: Yes, siesta. The city of Florence pretty much shuts down from lunch to about 3pm. This is your cue to go back to your hotel and take a nap.
- San Lorenzo Food Market: Amazing food market- looks like nothing from the outside, but worth the trip inside.
- One of my favorite things to do at dusk is to sit on the triangles on the Ponte Santa Trinita bridge with a bottle of wine. You will see the locals do this and if one of the two triangles on the bridge is open- jump over the railing and sit on the triangle…there is no better way to experience Florence from dusk to evening. You will be looking right at the Ponte Vecchio as it lights up sitting over the Arno…just like the locals.
- Watch out for the gypsies and their kids- especially in places like the Duomo where it’s crowded…it’s often the little children who are fast and can go right in your purse.
Taking the kids? Check out Sabrina Eliasoph’s guide. She gives you the scoop on gelato and where to stay with your bambinos!