When we think of Italy, we think of pizza, wine, romance and architecture. Florence in Tuscany brought all that to life for us. We saw so many beautiful sights, but here are the seven that come straight to mind without hesitation.
Tip: While you’re in Florence, try to squeeze in a day trip to nearby Siena. Getting there and back is simple; you can take the train — the Siena Railway Station is one of the most popular stops in Tuscany — or a one and a half hour bus ride.
#1 Step into a Whole New World
Take a break from the usual beachfront villas and experience something completely different and jaw-dropping. We couldn’t believe the hotels we’ve been missing out on all this time! Just look at Villa Cora; located in Oltrarno, Florence and minutes away from Boboli Gardens and Ponte Vecchio. Instead of telling you about the interior, why not see for yourself to believe it? Or better yet, check your calendar to pencil in a long-overdue trip to Tuscany.
#2 Find Out What the Fuss is About the Duomo
You can’t go to Florence and not see the Duomo. Well, obviously you’ll SEE it. It’s smack in the middle of everything! But if you want the ultimate panoramic view of Florence, then you’re obviously going to have to climb (all 463 steps of) said landmark edifice.
Tip: If there are way too many tourists, entrance is usually shut by 4pm so get in early!
Another helpful tip: The Firenze Pass allows for free entry, but not priority to cut the queue. A Luxe Nomad alternative? Cross the river and climb up to one of the highest points of the city where San Miniato al Monte lies. This beautiful Romanesque basilica boasts one of the best views of the city. Ever.
#3 Hang Out by The Old Bridge
The oldest bridge in Florence is called (surprise, surprise) The Old Bridge or what is more commonly known as Ponte Vecchio. It crosses the Arno River at the narrowest point and is the home for gold and jewelry merchants – a step up from the old days where butchers were allowed to operate. Guys may want to conveniently forget their wallets since the ladies are known to go a little cuckoo with all the bling.
#4 So We Hear You Like Pizza…
You can’t go wrong with food in Italy, everywhere possibly serves the best pizzas and pastas ever! But if you want to do waterfront dining, then check out Golden View Open Bar just by the Ponte Vecchio, where they have awesome pizza, the best Rosè we’ve ever tasted, funky live jazz and a lovely view of the Arno.
#5 Can You Smell the Leather?
Another thing you can’t NOT do in Italy? Shop! If you’re looking for leather goods of any kind, and in every colour of the spectrum, then you’re headed to Piazza de Santa Croce. The leather here is buttery soft, workmanship excellent and the value unbelievable!
#6 There’s a Huuuge Designer Sale
While we’re on the subject of shopping, the best factory outlet shopping takes place at The Mall Outlet Centre, located only 30 minutes outside the beautiful city of Florence. You’d better come prepped with your label research because brands like Alexander McQueen, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Tod’s, Dior, Ferragamo, Loro Piana, Fendi, Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci and Balenciaga call this place their outlet home.
Tip: Head over early in the day, otherwise you’ll have to contend with the tourists from China who queue for hours to buy more than 15 bags each.
#7 Have a Florentine Steak
Our must eat: a Florentine steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina). Okay so we love our meat, but this specialty really takes the cake. It’s basically a massive T-bone steak from the Chianina breed that begs to be shared (since the smallest size is already 800g). Our verdict? Tender, tasty meat cooked to perfection! Best place to go: Trattoria Sostanza on Via del Porcellana 25.
I drove from Rome to Florence, passing Siena on the way. An absolutely beautiful drive with vineyards and olive groves everywhere! The food is amazing and I heard for the first time about the Florentine steak. Go to Florence in a group so you can order kilos of steak 😉 Fabulous!
Which hotels would you recommend in Florence?