Somehow I found myself in the streets of Florence at 0200. High on life, a little buzz from Italian wine – Chianti to be exact, belly full from a complete steak dinner (Florence specialty), and hobbling on home from making the mistake of wearing wedges on cobblestone. I was humming to the tune of Taylor Swift, the happiest I had been in a while, and it was all because I was in the magical city of Florence.
From Rome to Florence
After spending four days in Rome, all thanks to a pizza craving, I hopped on a train north to the beautiful Italian city of Florence. To me, Florence had been a 50/50 split, having heard both positives and negatives about the city. Upon stepping off the train, onto the cobblestone street, and into the city centre, I knew I had made the right choice.
I pulled my bag through twisting roads, dodging taxis, cars, tourists, and locals. Passing a gelato shop at every corner, and a pizza shop every other. Most people smiled and said “Ciao bella!” Some had their heads down, scurrying to the next chore of the day. As I got closer to my Airbnb I braved the crowded, but very famous, Ponte Vecchio Bridge. The color of the sun as it melts in to the earth, and one of only four bridges in the world to have shops span both sides.
I crossed the bridge with confidence, checked into my apartment. Dropped my bags, and dashed out the door. I was lucky enough to be in Florence around Christmas, which led me to wandering the cobblestone streets staring up at the glittering lights hanging down so low I could nearly grasp them. The twinkling lights led me throughout the city, weaving in and out of the alleys, streets, and squares.
I spent three days in Florence. Resting, eating, drinking, and enjoying time with great locals. It gave me just enough to craft the perfect day in Florence. If you only had one day.
Morning in Florence
Ideally your morning in Florence would begin at sunrise, when you have the city to yourself. Sitting at a café, Café Scudieri, sipping espresso and eating croissants. This would be the time to cross over Ponte Vecchio Bridge, with less people around so you can see its true beauty. As people begin to trickle into the streets, use your feet to discover the many squares of the city. In the centre alone there are more than 20 squares made up of restaurants, gelato, wine, and souvenir shops. Upon discovering a majority, some on purpose, most on accident, Piazza della Signoria was one of my favorites. Here you’ll find Palazza Vecchio, famous for housing a replica of Michelangelo’s Statue of David. Following Piazza della Signoria, cross over Ponte Vecchio Bridge (most likely more crowded) to Pitti Square. The square is an open and breathable space where you’ll find the Palazzo Pitti, housing the Boboli Gardens. Florence is an easily walkable city, by taking advantage of this you can see a big chunk of the city in a few hours and check some sites off your list.
Afternoon in Florence
Upon exploring the streets of Florence, take to a light lunch at La Prosciutteria. The perfect restaurant for a plate of local meats and cheeses topped off with Tuscan wine. It’s here that I tried ‘Italian Female Beef’, a bit like tartar, along with truffled mushrooms and blue cheese. Followed by a swig, or two, of Chianti.
Evening in Florence
Breathless, but in awe of the view in front of you, make the climb uphill, up more than 100 stairs to witness the sun set from Piazza Michelangelo. Lush, rolling green hills to the right. And panoramic views of a city painted burnt orange from the sun setting in the background. I felt a world away, yet right in the center of it all. Sit and take your time, even bring a bottle of wine to enjoy on a bench up top.
Upon descending Piazza Michelangelo head to Gusta Pizza. A bit dingy from the outside, but on the inside you’ll find a pizza place full of laughter and smiles. As you walk in the smell of garlic and tomatoes fills your nostrils, and the warmth from the fire baked oven lets you know you’re in the right spot. A minimalistic style pizza, light on toppings, not flavor. A sprinkling of cheese on top, where the true flavor comes from the soft and buttery dough. You can order your pizza as is – or ask them to bake it in a heart shape.
And to end your perfect day in Florence? A nightcap at Il Santino. A small and cozy den, serving local wine. With no WiFi it’s the perfect spot to sit down and reflect on your day in Florence.
For more on Florence, make sure to check out my Instagram story highlights