Have you ever fallen in love with a city? I can state with absolute certainty that with Florence it has been love at first sight. After having spent there my birthday last year (and maybe this was the reason it became so special), a few days ago I finally came back there for the second time. I’d like to tell you so many things but I think I would end up boring you. I will then give you some advice that could be useful if you decide to visit Florence. So here’s a 3-day guide through the streets of the city.
Our journey begins from San Lorenzo, the historic district of the Medici family. A respectable day always starts with an excellent breakfast and so what could we do? Simple, let’s stop at the Ménagère, once a home-made shop that has now become a concept-restaurant where you can sip a good coffee sourronded by the colors and scents of the beautiful flowers of Artemisia, the flower shop inside.
After breakfast we move to the heart of the city, straight to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the famous Duomo of Florence. The ticket costs 18 euros and you can visit not only the Cathedral (whose entrance is free) but also the Dome of Brunelleschi, the Baptistery of San Giovanni (located in the square), Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Crypt and the Museum. The ticket is valid for 72 hours from the time of validation, so this will allow you to manage your time. My advice is to dedicate most of your time to the Dome and the Bell Tower, perhaps dividing them in two days. Once you climb first 463 and then 414 steps you can enjoy a wonderful view of the city and believe me that despite the wait and the effort it will be really worth it.
Back with feet on the ground it’s almost time for lunch. Let’s take a break at the Antico Vinaio, between Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery, to enjoy a delicious “schiacciata”. I choose the one of the boss, filled with prosciutto, pecorino and truffle cream. Who follows me?
Now, we’re ready to move to Piazzale Michelangelo, the most famous panoramic terrace in Florence where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city. The square is easily reached on foot from the center in just 10/15 minutes but if you don’t wanna walk do not worry, you can take the bus. My advice is to visit the square during the sunset because you know, everything is more beautiful at this time.
The day has been really intense and for dinner we decided to cuddle ourselves at Caffé dell’Oro, located along the Arno’s bank with a beautiful view of Ponte Vecchio.
The chef Peter Brunel creates flawless dishes adding a touch of creativity to the Italian tradition. Here, you’ll not find the classic steak but more refined dishes. We choose a two-course proposal: octopus, potatoes, candied lemon and capers as appetizer and pumpkin ravioli with Parmigiano Reggiano as first course. We couldn’t renounce the dessert, so we tasted an excellent Tuscan tiramisù made with cantucci and vin santo.
The morning is dedicated to art and culture. First of all, we move to Accademia Gallery, where the famous David of Michelangelo is located. My advise is to buy the ticket online in order to avoid long queues at the entrance (of course, the cost of the ticket is higher).
After visiting the “Michelangelo Museum” we are ready for another dip in art. The time has come to visit the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous museums in the world for its masterpieces. The Gallery collects numerous works of the Renaissance, including some of the most important ones of Giotto, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Michelangelo and Piero della Francesca. The ticket costs 20 euros but believe me you won’t be disappointed and as for the Galleria dell’Accademia I recommend you to buy the ticket.
We move to Piazza della Signoria, perhaps one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, dominated by Palazzo Vecchio. Over the centuries the building has been subject to various changes that led it to have the current appereance. The ticket price varies depending on the type, we’ve purchased the entrance to the museum and access to the tower. As for the dome and the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, you need to take a long breath to climb the 223 steps that will lead you to the top of the tower. It’s useless to tell you that the view from the top is really priceless.
For lunch we book a table in Osteria Badalì, in the district of San Niccolò, far from the classic tourist places. We start with a mixed antipasto selected by the chef and continue with his majesty the Florentine steak, all served with an excellent house red wine. The staff is young and friendly, ingredients are excellent, so why not go there?
In the afternoon we came back to the city center via Ponte Vecchio, certainly one of the most touristic places in the city. After visiting the Basilica of Santa Croce we move towards the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
Near this one there’s the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica, one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe.
For dinner we book at Corsini, a small restaurant along the Arno riverbank. We have been convinced to taste a typical Tuscan dish, Tordelli with meat sauce. Our choice couldn’t have been more appropriate, the pasta was very fresh and the knife-cut ragù really tasty. I think it’s one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten in Tuscany (or maybe in Italy). Friendly staff and excellent ingredients, I absolutely recommend it.
The last day starts at Palazzo Pitti, where you can also find the Treasury of the Grand Dukes on the ground floor, the Galleria Palatina and the royal apartments on the main floor of the building, the Modern Gallery and the Museum of Fashion and Costume on the second floor. Behind the Pitti Palace there’s the Boboli Gardens, where you can admire not only numerous works of art but also different varieties of flowers and plants
After visiting the garden we move to the district of San Lorenzo, where the homonymous market is located. The first floor is the headquarter of the Central Market (Mercato Centrale), open every day from 8 a.m. to midnight. In addition to shopping, the market offers the opportunity to sit down and eat something by buying it directly from small artisan shops that fill the floor, including fresh pasta, lampredotto, fried and more.
We decide to have lunch at Trattoria da Mario. So, before entering the market, we leave our name because reservations are not accepted. After 20/30 minutes of waiting we can finally enter. Don’t expect any chic or refined place, at Mario the tradition is the master. Here “we eat together with others”, the tablecloths are the classic ones with white and red squares, the wine quartini are strictly of the house and the Florentine steaks would make everyone envious. But I recommend you, do not ask for well-cooked meat. Fiorentina is cooked as they say!
Other restaurants to try:
– Trattoria Zà Zà: the restaurant is located next to the Trattoria da Mario, close to San Lorenzo market. When it was born, in 1977, there were only 5 tables and a small cellar downstairs where tastings took place. Now, the restaurant has several rooms, including the Cantinone, the old cellar, the nineteenth century, a room full of works of art by a Florentine artist and the Tabaccaio, the ancient tobacco hall. A cutting board of the aunt Giuliana (mixed salami, mixed cheeses, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke alla Zà Zà, panzerotti and jam), a Florentine steak and a red wine of their own production will immediately make you feel at home
– Cantina Barbagianni: if you are looking for a place for a romantic dinner, Cantina Barbagianni is the perfect place for you. The restaurant is composed by three rooms, including two cellars, and offers a menu that varies according to the season, always respecting the Florentine tradition. Chef Efrem De Zolt adds a touch of creativy to classic Tuscan dishes. Everything is really good. Don’t miss cantucci with vin santo for dessert
– O’Cafè – Golden View Open Bar: O’Cafè is open from 7 to 23, from breakfast to aperitif. We tried the bar for happy hour, tasting good Chianti with a stunning view of Ponte Vecchio. The panorama you can enjoy from here is flawless. The aperitif is served with small amuse bouche but if you are “very” hungry, you can order something directly from the kitchen
See you soon Florence…