Ciao! I’m finally back from our incredible 10-day trip to Italy! I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was, which makes me so excited to share my travel guides for each city with you all the next week. From the sights to see to what meals you can’t miss, I’m going to break down our route and each city to make sure no detail is missed. First stop: Florence!
We flew out of Newark Airport at 8:45 pm on Thursday night and had about a 7 hour flight to Paris and then another 2 hours to Florence. We were able to grab a taxi right to our hotel (about a 20 minute drive) and I cannot rave about how perfect our hotel was there. About an eight minute walk from the Duomo and located right next to Santa Maria Novella, the Palazzo della Stufa Residenza D’Epoca was probably my favorite hotel of our trip. It only had a few rooms and the owner was so nice and helped teach us about the trains and any other questions we had during our stay. The room was spacious and decorated so chic and also featured huge windows that opened up to look over the street. One of my favorite moments was watching a huge Italian wedding come out into the courtyard from our window, felt like straight out of “The Godfather!” Another perk of this hotel was that there was a great coffee and breakfast buffet included each morning so we didn’t have to worry about spending money for breakfast.
It was about 4 pm by the time we unpacked so we headed into town to Piazza della Republicato to explore and split a pizza and a few cocktails. This open square has a gorgeous carousel and a few restaurants and bars that surround it so it was great people watching spot until our dinner reservation. For dinner that night, we had a reservation at l’Tuscani 2, which is known for their Florentine Steak. If you’re a meat lover, this place is a MUST. It’s super tiny and very cozy, and also come hungry. The steak comes with a ton of veggies and bread and it was so delicious. You also receive unlimited refills in the house wine, and even a complimentary shot in the end haha. We were so tired and full we skipped dessert that night and headed back to beat the jet lag.
After breakfast in the hotel, we headed to the Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower. We didn’t buy tickets in advance and had to wait about 15 minutes to get inside to climb the Bell Tower (the Duomo was sold out unfortunately) but I don’t think we would have been able to do both after climbing over 400 stairs in the Bell Tower! The views are amazing climbing up to the top, but definitely don’t recommend this for people with claustrophia. There’s different areas to walk out and take a breather and look out at the view, but the staircase is very hot and gets more narrow to the top. The view at the top is worth it though and you get a great view of the Duomo and all of Florence.
For lunch, everyone told us that we could not miss a panini from All’antico Vinaio and they were right. This counter sandwich spot had a line around the corner, where you can choose from a few local favorite combos or make your own. We split a huge sandwich stuffed with prosciutto, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes and I’m so sad we didn’t have time to go back and get one more during our stay.
Next, we headed towards the Ponte Vecchio bridge, but stopped in the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum along the way. Located in the bottom of the flagship store right next to the bridge, it only took us about 15 minutes to walk through, but it was a little disappointing and would recommend making sure it isn’t a special exhibit (like we had) before you go. After the museum, we walked over to the bridge to take a few photos and then headed up to the International Gelato Festival (an amazing surprise to find while there!), located up on Piazzale Michelangelo. This walk is steep but the views from here are gorgeous and made for some pretty amazing photos. We then got to recharge thanks to sampling over 30 kinds of gelato and voting in our favorites (a strawberry and cream cookies flavor from Germany!) and it was the ideal way to try a ton of unique and delicious kinds of gelato from all over the world.
After all the walking, we went back to the hotel to relax for a bit and freshen up before drinks and dinner. One of the spots I found thanks to Instagram was La Ménagère, a bar/restaurant/flower shop/home goods store all in one that was a block from our hotel and one of the prettiest spots we had been in. We each got their special Aperol Spritz filled with fresh fruit and split the most insane cheese and meat board. Definitely one of my favorite spots of the trip and a must for cocktails or brunch.
Dinner that night was at Trattoria dei 13 Gobbi (another place that came highly recommended) and you must go to get their insane rigatoni. We had a reservation here as well (along with all of our dinner spots) and cannot recommend more to do the same as we saw so many people turned away at some of the best restaurants. We were stuffed once again after dinner so we asked to get their famous cheesecake to go (the waiter was very confused by this but somehow made it work!) and enjoyed later after our walk home back at the hotel.
For our final day in Florence, we decided to get up early and head to the luxury outlet called The Mall a few people had recommended to us. There is a bus right in town at the bus station that takes you straight there, about a 40 minute ride through the countryside, and it was super seamless and we got to see great views of Tuscany along the way. Once we arrived, I could not get over how insane this outlet was. There is one section that is all Gucci, (it even features a rooftop Gucci café where we had a cappuccino) along with amazing luxe brands like Burberry, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Prada and more. The stores didn’t have the most popular items, but I was able to get a classic pair of tan Gucci loafers for about 250 Euros (normally 650 Euros) so I would highly recommend going still. Another great perk is you are able to get your tax return money back right at the outlet (just had to get my paperwork stamped at the airport) so it saved me time later on as well at customs. The bus comes about every 40 minutes so we were able to be back to Florence by lunchtime.
For lunch, we headed to Gustapizza to get one of their famous heart shaped pizzas. We split a margherita and ate it outside on some church steps (the restaurant itself is super tiny and features a few high top tables) before heading to the Palazzo Pitti just a few blocks over. Palazzo Pitti is a gorgeous palace that also has beautiful gardens in the back known as the Boboli Gardens. We bought tickets to tour those and so glad we did. The gardens are lush and have incredible views of the country and countryside. We spent about an hour and a half walking through and it was a great afternoon activity, especially since we were able to be outside the whole time.
When in Florence, a must have souvenir is something from the leather market. Luckily, the main leather market, San Lorenzo Market, was right next to our hotel so we were able to look around the city before making our final picks like leather totes and a leather jacket for Lindsay.
After a quick change and recharge at the hotel, we went back to the Ponte Vecchio bridge to catch the sunset and then head to dinner at La Giostra. I cannot even begin to explain how incredible this meal was. The restaurant is super cozy and has twinkle lights everywhere. The service to be honest was not the best but they give you so much food, it’s easy to ignore. To start the meal, they bring an assortment of complimentary appetizers to try, so no need to order appetizers before your meal. But for the main meal, the pear ravioli is the most delicious thing I have ever had. Buttery, sweet and salty all at once, this pasta is the reason this restaurant is everyone’s favorite. We also tried the special truffle ravioli as well, another incredible dish. The perfect final meal of our Florence stay! On our way home we stopped in a gorgeous and very Instagram-worthy bar, Locale, but ended up choosing a Nutella crepe to-go from La Milkeria so we could get ready for our early morning travels.
Overall, I could not recommend spending a few days in Florence more. It surprised me how much I loved it and I think three days was a great amount of time to spend there. To me, it was a perfect balance of amazing restaurants, historic sights and great shopping. It also felt super safe and clean and everything was a great walking distance from each other, making it easy to map out our plans for the day.
Next stop: Positano!
THINGS TO DO
Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower
See The Duomo
Watch the sunset at the Ponte Vecchio bridge
Walk up to take in the views from Piazzale Michelangelo
Outlet shop at The Mall
Tour the Boboli Gardens at Palazzo Pitti
Shop for leather goods at San Lorenzo Market
WHAT I WORE