Florence is a really wonderful little city in beautiful Tuscany. What transformed the city was it being at the epicentre of the renaissance in the fifteenth city. If you are more inclined to eat and shop, don’t go to Florence, Milano is the city for you. Ciao!
Florence is really extremely hot in July and August and also very crowded. I was subject to this unfortunate combination and yet I still fell in love with the city and its surroundings but I vowed never to go again in summer. May and mid-September onwards are much more comfortable.
Either stay bang in the centre of town. Be prepared for the narrow streets and noise, but you are well placed for a very indulgent, comfortable stay at either the St Regis or J.K. Place Firenze.
If you want to give yourself a bit more space, head to the South side at Hotel Lungarno, it has a gorgeous riverside location, I could watch that view forever, combined with an excellent Michelin star restaurant. Staying on the South side, you can check out Riva Lofts, minimum yet ultra-modern hotel comprising of only 9 suites. If you prefer to not splurge, try Grand Hotel Minerva in Piazza di Santa Maria Novella. It’s nestled between a gorgeous church and an amazing gelateria. And the rooftop pool is insta-tastic!
Speaking of the church next door, that’s where I would start your walking tour. Santa Maria Novella is a gothic beauty with giant cloisters. I actually preferred it to the main Duomo. After this, head to La Milkeria, for Florence’s best coffee at Borgo degli Albizi 87r. They do good crepes too and I would get stuck in because next you are going to the Grand Duomo and you will be climbing over 400 stairs to get into the bell tower and at least another 400 to reach the dome itself.
Whilst I didn’t love the inside of Duomo (although I obsessed over the outside), you cannot fail to be impressed that the dome was made in one piece with absolutely no scaffolding. You will need to book this in advance, if can be done here.
After all those stairs, you deserve some nourishment, so head to Procacci on Via Tornabuoni, the street of the fashion boutiques. (If you’re shopping, I’m not telling!) Procacci is THE place to get a famous truffle sandwich. Some have it with tomato juice but personally I think a glass of prosecco goes down best with the creamy truffle sandwich spread. At the end of the street you will find the river with four statues, one for each season, bellissimas! Next door is Salvator Ferragamo’s shoe museum. I hear the ticket price is redeemable against any purchases. A true Citizen Femme top tip.
When you get to the river, turn left and shortly you will reach Florence’s most famous bridge, Ponte Vecchio, which is an epicentre of jewellery stores but also tourists. So head back to your hotel for a siesta because tonight we’re going out!
Before any night on the tiles, start with an aperitivo at Harry’s Bar (closed on Sundays) followed by the place to line your stomach. In Italy, carb lining your stomach is far too easy. Head to Baldovino by Piazza Santa Croce, excellent pizza in this simple trattoria, a real local’s place.
Then head to the bar at Grand Hotel Cavour, Via del Proconsolo, 3. It is in a beautiful old converted family house with gorgeous dark panelling and frescos. I recommend a negroni, the cocktail of Florence, but not too many because tomorrow you will be operating a moving vehicle. Oh yes!
Perhaps you thought I meant a Ferrari given the Italian supercar connection. Not so Citizen Femmes, be up early and head to the office of Italy Segway Tours, Via dei Cimatori 9, because you will be getting a Segway tour of the city. You will need a reservation for this, wear sneakers and take lots of water. Bite size chunks of history whilst slurping ice cream and gawping at the views is what I’m all about. We stopped off at a great gelateria called Perche no, translation, “Why not”, on Via dei Tavolini. Hazelnut crunch is their bestseller!
After this head to the Palazzo Vecchio which is where the Medici family lived. They ruled the city for over five hundred years and this was their home for a long time. Michelangelo’s famous David stands outside. One day Signora Medici decided this palace was not big enough and she had another one built over the river! But Vecchio is so magnificent, particularly the view from the tower. My favourite room is the map room, it is mind boggling to think they had even mapped Greenland and the Caribbean back in the eighteenth century pre-British Airways and all things luxury travel.
From here choose to either go to the palace mentioned above, Palazzo Pitti with its magical gardens. Or if sculpture and art are more your bag then the Uffizi Gallery is for you. To be honest you could just skip everything I suggested above and spend your entire forty eight hours here. However, experts advise that visitors check out the main masterpieces and then call it day for risk of being overwhelmed. If the experts say so, it must be ok!
Dinner tonight is a stonker so make sure you book in advance. You are going to Il Santino on Via di Santo Spirito. Head to the next door wine bar first for an aperitif but don’t bother looking at the menu, just tell them what you like. They will choose very well for you. And then go into the gorgeous dark wood clad restaurant for the main event. You will want the three courses and the wine pairing. And a stretcher to be carried home.
It’s been a full on weekend, and a full tum weekend! Florence is a really wonderful city, you can spend far longer than 48 hours there but if you have the Amore for Italia get the train to Pisa or go onto stunning Sienna. Arrivederci per ora!
More choice of restaurants? Try the following:
Da Mario – only open for lunch, an unabashedly old-school trattoria by the central market in Florence
Capocaccia – Near the Arno river, see and be seen at this elegant café, popular with a fashionable Florentine crowd, boasting a small outdoor area for the summer months. Great for aperitif, and the weekend brunch. In the evenings, a DJ entertains the crowd.
Trattoria 13 Gobbi – One of the most famous restaurants in Florence for its traditional Italian food Trattoria 13 Gobbi
Fishing Lab (previously Alle Murate) – this one’s for romance. Book in advance and get a corner table. Its intimate, engaging and you are surrounded by archaeological delights
Intown shopping is best in Milan but outside Florence you have two amazing outlets:
- The Mall – https://www.themall.it/it/outlet-toscana/homepage.html
- Barberino Designer Outlet – https://www.mcarthurglen.com/it/barberino-designer-outlet/en/