Italy has sat at the top of my travel wish list for as long as I can remember, so goodness knows why it’s taken me so long to visit! My long-awaited summer holiday this year was to Florence, and the beautiful city lived up to all of my romantic expectations. With many referring to Tuscany as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, its capital is oozing with cultural delights.
I thought I’d share a few of my favourite finds from the trip but please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of things to do/places to see. If I could go back and stay for a year I would – and I’m sure I’d still run out of time to fully appreciate everything that there is to do and see (and eat) in Florence.
My boyfriend and I stayed to the west of Florence, a short bus ride from the city centre, surrounded by Tuscan countryside and close to the river Arno. Taking a walk up through the surrounding hills and villages, we stumbled across olive groves aplenty and a church at almost every turn!
For a panoramic view of the city, a climb up through the Boboli gardens to the Basilica di San Miniato to the south of the city centre is perfect and offers a little breather from the busy cobbled streets. Maybe avoid doing the walk in the midday heat though – we made that mistake and it made for a rather sweaty time.
A must-do when you are visiting Florence has to be climbing the Duomo, the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Situated in the historic criss-cross streets in the heart of Florence, and what feels like the tourist hub, the dome is one of the city’s most iconic sights. Not recommended for anyone suffering with vertigo or claustrophobia, the 463-step climb up the steep interior steps culminate in a spectacular 360-degree view of the city. (You need to pre-book a time-slot to climb the Duomo.)
For a little bit of retail therapy, Boutique Nadine in the Santa Croce neighbourhood is a slightly pricey but beautifully curated boutique. It’s worth taking a wander through the streets of Santa Croce which can feel like a haven from the tourists. Soul Kitchen Bar, which is just next door to Boutique Nadine on Via de’ Benci, is a perfect low-key spot for cocktails and people watching in the early evening.
The food was undeniably the best part of the trip – the pizza, the cheeses, the pasta…
The top markets that I would recommend wandering round are the Mercato Centrale (Florence’s central market) and the Sant’Ambrugio Market. Both offer an attack on the senses as you peruse the various local delicacies as well as fruits and vegetables, and fish and meat counters.
My final recommendation from the trip would be to visit Touch for dinner. Offering modern dishes made with traditional Tuscan ingredients, you can choose between a tasting menu or order à la carte. It was the most expensive meal of our whole trip (pizzas usually cost around 7€) with the tasting menu costing 40€ without wine. However, the flavours were astounding, and with wonderfully accommodating staff who were more than happy to recommend dishes or wine to compliment the meal, it was definitely our favourite meal of the trip.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about a few of our favourite spots – I’m already trying to work out when I can go back!