It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Florence. Everything about it was mesmerizing–the shopping, the people, and the city streets were all charming. We arrived in the rain, but it didn’t stop us from exploring the city to its fullest potential. I’m already anxious to return…three days just wasn’t enough!
Uffizi Gallery // You can’t go to Florence and not visit the Uffizi Gallery. We spent three hours in the museum, but we easily could have dedicated an entire day to studying the work of Michelangelo, Botticelli, and da Vinci, just to name a few.
Piazza del Duomo // We passed by the cathedral several times a day, yet it still remained one of the most striking sights. Go early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds while getting a close look at the Gothic architecture.
Piazzale Michelangelo // Watching the sun set is one of my favorite things to do, especially in a new location. Piazzale Michelangelo offers one of the best views of Florence, so we made the hike about 30 minutes before sunset to grab a beer and enjoy the live music. Buy a bottle of wine on your way up, and snag a seat on the steps for an unforgettable memory.
Ponte Vecchio // The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence, spanning across the Arno River. Stores line the entirety of the bridge, so take a stroll and go shopping for an authentic experience.
San Lorenzo Market // The San Lorenzo Market is an indoor and outdoor market with vendors selling everything from leather goods to truffle oil. If you have the time, get lost wandering the streets until you find the perfect handbag.
The Boboli Gardens // We visited the Boboli Gardens on a sunny afternoon, and it couldn’t have been more beautiful. The gardens are situated behind Pitti Palace, displaying antique and Renaissance sculptures.
Wine Tasting in Tuscany // Wine tasting is pretty much synonymous with Tuscany. We booked a half-day tour to the Chianti region and had such a fun experience. Our group was a blast, and by the time we finished the tasting at the second winery, everyone was sharing (and laughing at) their most American moment while abroad.
The style in Florence can vary quite a bit, mostly because you’ll see so many American students walking to class or stopping at one of the many cute cafes for coffee. It seems like the ‘college girl uniform’ is universal–North Face jacket, Longchamp bag, leggings, and riding boots. Just because you don’t have a fanny pack doesn’t mean you don’t stick out among the effortlessly cool locals. Comfort is always a concern when traveling, but I tried to wear pieces that didn’t scream tourist. A pair of distressed boyfriend jeans and a silk blouse was casual enough for a morning of museum hopping followed by an afternoon bike ride. Shoes are always key, which is why I religiously wore low-heeled booties. I bought these a few days before the trip and didn’t even need to break them in. A felt fedora and a coral lip pulled the look together.
Vini e Vecchi Sapori // Run by a couple and their son, Vini e Vecchi Sapori is a tiny restaurant tucked in a quiet side street. When a friend said she would travel nine hours just to eat there, I knew we had to try it. My meal ended up being my favorite pasta dish–tagliatelle with black cabbage and bacon–in all of Italy, and we loved their housemade wine so much that we asked to buy a decanter of it (unfortunately the wine wasn’t available to purchase!).
Gusta Pizza // I can’t tell you how many times Gusta Pizza was recommended to us by both friends and strangers. We almost skipped it because of the hype, but we eventually made our way there on our last day. It was difficult to find even with a map, so we made one final attempt by spotting a group of American students and banking on them going to the pizzeria. Beware; it’s messy and requirs a fork and knife, but it’s so fresh and flavorful.
Acqua Al 2 // With locations in San Diego and Washington, D.C., we’ve heard many good things about Acqua Al 2 though never dined at the restaurant. A travel agent based in D.C. suggested that we visit the original location and try the tasting menu. We sampled six different pasta dishes and three different filet mignon presentations–the blueberry reduction sauce was so delicious!
Vecchio Forno // We stumbled upon Vecchio Forno on our last morning in the city, ordering an array of freshly baked pastries. I loved the fruit tart! Our only regret was that we hadn’t found the bakery sooner.
Edoardo Gelateria // Hands-down the best gelato we had throughout the week. Edoardo only uses organic ingredients and is free of additives and coloring. We also learned to never eat gelato from a tin (only a canister!) because that’s usually an indicator that the ice cream isn’t authentic.
Mercato Centrale // The open-air market is the perfect place for a quick bite to eat. We stopped in a couple of times since it was close to our apartment and had a wide selection.