I spent over 4 months living in Florence Italy or as the locals call their home, Firenze, Italy, while studying abroad. I traveled to over 23 cities and stepped foot in 11 different countries within Central Europe. While I definitely enjoyed experiencing what each new destination had to offer throughout my travels, there was not a single city that compared to Florence.
Florence, the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’, at just under 40 square miles, has so much to offer; it is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and is approximately 145 miles northwest of Rome. It is nestled by rolling hills which are decorated with vineyards and villas, and the Arno river runs beautifully through it. Florence is home to about 379,122 citizens or Florentines, most of them zip down the narrow and windy cobblestone streets via vespa or fiat. I was never intimidated as many Florentines are welcoming and speak English, which was helpful while I was learning the local language. With each new turn onto a street (or strada), visitors are sure to be in awe by the stunning architecture. Not only is this city a visual spectacle, it is also pleasing to the tastebuds. Here are some of my favorite destinations for indulging in Florentine cuisine, viewing world renowned artistic masterpieces, and taking in the gorgeous panoramic views of the city. Florence has become one of my favorite cities because of these special locations!
Cuisine in Florence Italy
While walking down the streets of Florence, tourists often find themselves overwhelmed by the vast amount of eateries to choose from. It took me a while to find the absolute best, authentic, and reasonably priced Florentine cuisine; so, chow down at the following places!
La Prosciutteria Firenze
This is a great lunch or in italian, pranzo, spot best known by Florentines for it’s boards of delicious cheeses and cured meats. Whenever I would stroll past this spot after class, I could not resist getting a panino stuffed with prosciutto and pecorino romano cheese.
Pinos Sandwiches-Salumeria Verdi
Another great lunch spot run by a very friendly Florentine couple…wow do they know how to cook! Choose from a variety of paninis or hearty dishes on display.
This place has multiple floors lined with a variety of eateries and wineries to choose from. On the lowest level of the mercato, visitors can shop around and purchase authentic tuscan meats, cheeses, wines, biscottis, etc.
Trattoria Zà Zà
Neighboring the mercato centrale, this trattoria is best to visit for dinner or in italian, cena. I was a huge fan of their seafood and truffle dishes, and their ribollita.
Acqua Al Due
This location is best to visit for dinner, as well. Two words… blueberry steak.
Tip: If more than two people order the same dish the chef will bring it out in the pot. Make sure you have extra bread handy.
Art& Sights in Florence Italy
I come from a family of artists, so having the opportunity to live in a city that was rich in the arts definitely felt right! Be sure to check out the following spots for an awe inspiring visit.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or The Duomo
When I first arrived in Florence, my jaw dropped at the site of this massive structure…and yours will too. Make sure to climb to the top for an exquisite 360 degree view of Florence. If you happen to be in Florence on a Sunday, mass at the cathedral is free, which means you can view the interior at no charge.
A little bit of hiking is required, but the panoramic views of Florence are well worth it. Make sure to watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo over ‘sunny Florence, Italy’.
Basilica of Santa Croce
This world famous museum houses works of Italian Renaissance art, featuring pieces by Botticceli, Titian, Michelangelo, and da Vinci.
Galleria dell’ Accademia
This museum houses the famous David by Michelangelo.
Make sure to stop by this museum to view it’s breathtaking gallery of statues. There is a lot of history regarding this famous tower, so be sure to learn all about it on a guided tour.
Medici Chapels and Church of San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo is considered to be the official church of the Medici Family who lived in the adjacent palace, Medici-Riccardi. This church is also one of the oldest in all of Florence, as it was consecrated in 393. Visit the chapels as well to view the intricate interior designed mostly by Michelangelo.