Considering my love for pasta (I’m that girl who eat’s it roughly 3 – 4 times a week), it was always a surprise that I’d never even visited Italy before. So when I sat on the sofa at Christmas and opened my present from the male, tickets to Florence, I couldn’t wait to get on the plane (albeit, it turned into an unpretty sight, because hangover…).
Leaving ours at 4am on a Friday morning, we arrived in Pisa airport at 10.40am and managed to find a bus heading to Florence, for only 24euro return (Autostradale if you’re interested). Even arriving to rain, didn’t stop us instantly falling in love with the city, and no sooner had we wandered a few streets, did we stumble upon a cute little restaurant and fell into gnocchi heaven (also, what DO they do with their cheese?). We pretty much spent the whole weekend eating our way around the city, drinking endless glasses of wine, and admiring all the quaint streets and spots that Florence has to offer. After all, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, in a country that’s food is like no other? And also, HOW do they just get it so right?
WHERE TO SEE
– Pointe Vecchio: The most famous bridge in Florence, and undoubtedly a breathtaking sight (whether seen from afar or walking across it). Full of jewellery shops and beautiful views, it’s worth a little stroll.
– Boboli Gardens: Located just behind Piazza Pitti, these are one of the largest and most elegant Italian style gardens. The views are gorgeous and in warmer weather, it’s the ideal place to have a picnic overlooking Florence.
– Piazzale Michelangelo: Another view point, and ultimate tourist spot. It takes a little legwork, because, lots of stairs. But once you’ve worked your way to the top, you won’t be disappointed with what you’ll find at the top. Best for golden hour/sunset!
–Vintage Photobooth: Collect memories and photos in this cute old booth, located on the corner between Via Nazionale and Piazza Della Stazione (near the station basically). After one too many drinks, pop your 2euros in and pull your best pose. The results are worth the five minute wait!
– Mercato Centrale: Food lovers heaven! With downstairs hosting traditional vendors offering fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and the best cheese, upstairs has an incredible food court with five hundred seats to choose from. So that means, eating your way around each stand. Try Il Pane e la Pasticceria for some of the best Focaccia.
WHERE TO SIP AND SNACK
– Dal Barone: We stumbled upon this place, having wandered a few streets looking to satisfy our hungry travel tummy and it did not disappoint. Quaint, cosy and delicious with amazing service. Try the gnocchi dish (perfect thing to start your weekend!)
– Ditta Artigianale: Located in Florence’s hippest district (think the cool, lesser-known tourist spot) and a secret gem, Ditta serves some of the best coffee in an incredibly designed space. Ultimate comfort, and a place to unwind (and upload those IG stories) for a few hours.
– La Menagere: Everyone and their mother’s will tell you to go here. A concept restaurant, that is romantic, cosy and filled with blooming flowers and tasty treats. Whether it’s brunch, lunch, dinner or just some drinks, this place is incredibly inviting. Try the cocktails – winner!
– Trattoria Zaza: Our favourite restaurant of them all. Located in San Lorenzo, with raving review, amazing prices and a true Italian experience to remember. Order everything with truffle, and you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you book, as you could be waiting a while…
– Fuoco Matto: Just outside of the centre, but worth the walk. The decor is simple and understated, with the main focus of food – Pizza! Make sure to try the aged ham, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella for a mouth-watering taste. Plus, complimentary prosecco on arrival? Sold.
– All’Antico Vinaio: Whilst we didn’t get to visit, word on the street is that these are some of the best sandwiches in the city. And a tip? Get everything with truffle too. Because, why not!
WHERE TO STAY
– Loft, San Lorenzo: A perfect find on Airbnb and amazingly located – right opposite Mercato Centrale and above Trattoria Zaza (double win!). Hosts, Annalisa and Leonardo are nothing but welcoming, warming and helpful. Their guides on where to eat and what to see are well and truly thought through, and of course, the Loft, is just pure bliss. Once you’ve climbed the 60 stairs to the third floor, you’ll soon forget as this place instantly oozes design and comfort, with weird and wonderful touches such as the cheeky window on the bedroom floor looking into the shower. Also, make sure to look out of the skylight for some beautiful views of the Tuscan Mountains.
Whatever Italy’s secret, they’ve well and truly hooked me in to their culture and lifestyle. And I can’t wait to return again.
Road trip anyone?