Italy Week continues, and today I’m sharing all about my time in Firenze, or Florence (Florence is the English version of Firenze). If you missed my post about the Cinque Terre, you can read it here, and my Italian-inspired cocktail recipe is here.
We were blessed with three wonderful days in Firenze, and I’m excited to share with you where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did.
Where we stayed:
This was, hands down, my favorite lodging of our entire trip. We rented an apartment through HomeAway, and it was perfect. You can check out the exact apartment here. I HIGHLY recommend it. Massimo, the apartment owner, was super accommodating, incredibly friendly, and just all-around great.
The apartment was exactly as advertised on the Homeaway site, it was super safe, and very comfortable. My favorite thing was having a little space that was all our own to come back to after a long day of exploring. I also loved that it had air conditioning (can I get an AMEN!), we had common space for everyone to hang out in, we could do breakfast there before starting our day, and we were blocks away from the center of town.
What we ate:
Well, I realize I gushed a bunch about our apartment already, but another favorite thing about having an apartment was being able to shop at the grocery store and cook an authentic Italian dinner there. It was an incredibly relaxing evening, and it was so fun to see everyone get involved in the cooking process. One of the girls in my Girl Scout troop is a chef, so she took the lead on the meal, and it was delicious!
Another favorite meal was Gusta Pizza. AHHH-mazing. I got the Gustapizza, which was tomatoes, rucola, Parmesan, and mozzarella. YUM!
We got to the restaurant 15 minutes before it opened for the night, and there was already a line. Clearly, we’re not the only ones who love this place! It was so charming. It’s a tiny little spot, near the Boboli Gardens, and you order from the counter then wait (an incredibly short wait!) for your pizza to come out of the wood-fired oven.
Another big hit for our group was the Mercato Centrale. This market is a food hall filled with artisan food vendors. The variety of choices (vegan, vegetarian, sandwiches, salads, etc, etc, etc) was perfect for our group, because everyone could get exactly what they wanted. We loved it so much we went there three times in our three days so we got to try a lot of great food!
My focaccia and cannoli were delicious! And, of course we ate gelato all over town. Lots and lots of gelato!
What we did:
We packed a lot into our three days! We visited the Accademia, visited the Basilica di Santa Croce, explored the Leather Market, popped in and out of the little shops, visited the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset, and explored the streets after dark listening to live music and experiencing the night life. It was all so dreamy! Here are my tips…
Accademia – this is a MUST if you want to see The David. We bought our tickets in advance, and I was so happy we did this because the lines were insane. I picked out the earliest entrance time, which was also wonderful, because that meant we beat the crowds inside the Accademia, and we were done within in two hours.
Shopping/The Leather Market: This was definitely a highlight for the girls, and I’m so glad we had time in our schedule to really enjoy all the shopping Firenze had to offer. The Leather Market was incredible, and the girls loved exploring all the leather goods and bartering for a discount. The other shops throughout the city were so unique, and we had fun checking out many of them.
Basilica di Santa Croce: This church was gorgeous, and it was very interesting to explore and read about the history of this place. It was also quite amazing to be in this place of worship where millions of people over centuries of time have worshiped. We got there right before they opened, and again, this was a great plan for us because we beat the crowds, explored at our leisure, and were ready to go after about an hour.
Piazzale Michelangelo: We, along with every other tourist in Firenze, visited the Piazzale Michelangeo at sunset. But, how could we not?! It was a long, hot hike to the viewpoint, and as we were hiking I promised the girls it would be worth it. And they all affirmed my promise and were so glad we made the trek. Simply stunning! There were lots of vendors selling ice cream, Prosecco, sunglasses (some of the girls and I picked up some of those! ;)), and more, so in addition to the view, the whole experience was a lot of fun.
The girls told me not to smile for our picture in our new sunglasses. I guess that’s what all the cool kids do these days. I clearly succeeded…
Exploring at night: Walking around the city at night was my favorite thing we did in Firenze. In every plaza, there was a musician entertaining a crowd. Around every corner, a charming glimpse of local life on a dimly lit street. And down by the Arno river, a lovely view of the sunset and the glowing lights of the surrounding buildings.
Loved hearing the local musicians, and love those silly girls, too 🙂
One other bucket list item we did in Firenze was take an Italian cooking class. Check back tomorrow for a special #tastyThursday post all about the class we took and the amazing recipe that came along with it.
So, that’s a wrap on our time in Firenze! We didn’t get to several things because we simply ran out of time. We only saw the outside of the Duomo, we didn’t go to the Uffizi Gallery, we skipped the Boboli Gardens, and a whole list of other things. So, those are definitely still on my list for a future visit. Can that be next week?!
Firenze, I love you!