Ryan and I were finally able to take our honeymoon! Back in April/early May, we went to Italy for 16 days. Our trip began in Florence, then we traveled to Rome and then down to the Amalfi coast. I’ll be sharing more about our trip in the upcoming weeks, but I thought I’d kick off the series with What To Do in Florence, Italy!
We spent 5 days in the city and honestly, I’ve thought about going back everyday since we left. It’s such a welcoming city that you can spend hours just walking through without any set schedule. You’re bound to find something beautiful and delicious waiting for you around every corner.
Quick note about this city guide: this was our first time in the city and it was our honeymoon. I didn’t document everything we did and we certainly did not see all that the city has to offer. There’s plenty of places that didn’t make this list which is great– it just means that there’s even more you can explore!
Now, onto what we did in Florence:
I made a video that covered what we did each day– it’s up on my YouTube channel now!
I think where you stay on a trip plays a huge role when it comes to experiencing a city. For what we like and what we wanted to see while in Florence, I don’t think we could have stayed in a more perfect hotel. The Oltrarno Splendid was our home while we were there and it felt more like a special bed and breakfast than a typical hotel.
We booked our stay with points (using our Chase Sapphire card). Since we used our card all throughout the wedding for miscellaneous expenses, it was a great way to get a bit of a return for the honeymoon. You can also find this place on Hotel Tonight.
We stayed here all 5 of the nights we were in Florence and I would hands down book here again for our next trip. The rooms were so unique, the hotel staff was lovely, breakfast and cappuccinos were included in the stay, and the location was perfect for walking around the city.
One of my favorite rooms in the place was the breakfast area. The colors were so bright and fun and I can’t wait to re-create the table set up one day. We loved this hotel so much that I’ll be sharing a more in depth look at our stay here later this week!
What to See in Florence
Really there’s no shortage of things to see in Florence. And even though we spent 5 days here, we really only saw a fraction of what the city has to offer. But if this is your first time visiting, and you’re looking for suggestions for where to start, here’s what I recommend:
1. Florence Cathedral aka The Duomo. Even if you’re in the city for just a day, you won’t want to miss The Duomo. I studied Italian Renaissance Art in college, so yes I did cry when we first turned the corner and there it was. Thanks for asking.
You can go inside and even climb the stairs to the top if you’re feeling ambitious. Just make sure to schedule yourself enough time to do it because there will be a line.
3. Piazza della Signoria + Loggia dei Lanzi. This is another great piazza to walk through and take in sculpture art and political history.
3. Fotoautomatica Booths. I know it might seem silly to add a photo booth to the must sees, but I found them to be such a charming addition to the city. There are booths all around (you can find a location guide here), but this one was right down the street from our hotel. Just be sure to bring your 2 Euro coin!
4. Giardino Bardini. A renaissance garden with stunning views of the city… need I say more?! Highlights include a wisteria tunnel and a cafe with a view at the very top. Bring your walking shoes because this place is uphill and there’s gravel.
5. Piazzale Michelangelo. Speaking of up hill, if you’re at the gardens, you might as well continue your journey up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset. There’s a replica of Michelangelo’s David and the view somehow gets better than it was at the gardens. Plus this space is free so you can stay and enjoy as long as you’d like!
6. Uffizi Gallery. If you only have time to take in one museum, make it the Uffizi. As you walk through the space you’ll see the progression from early to High Renaissance art. You can also get great views of the city from inside the building, so stop to look out the windows as you’re walking through.
7. Catch a Soccer Game. This was probably one of my favorite things we did, just because it felt like such a slice of local life. After so long of being apart from COVID, being in the cheering crowd honestly made me tear up. It didn’t hurt that Florence won the match either!
Where to Eat in Florence
When it comes to what to do in Florence Italy, food should be at the top of your list. It’s Italy afterall! Did I take any pictures of our meals? No, not really. There wasn’t enough time because I was too busy eating. So I hope you’re okay with just a list for this part of the city guide:
1. Eatly. I know there’s one in New York, but this was a great stop when we needed something that first day. It’s right by the Duomo, there’s a free public bathroom, and you can eat outside on the street and people watch.
2. Sbrino Gelatificio Contadino. Hands down the best gelato. I don’t even have a cute day time picture of it because it never lasted long enough. My go-to flavor combo was pistachio and hazelnut.
2. I Fratellini. My first time having prosciutto and now I’m addicted. Sandwiches were 4 Euro, they were simple, delicious, and great for on the go.
3. Buca Mario. We went here for dinner one night so Ryan could get the Florentine steak. I don’t eat beef, but I was still able to get a vegetarian pasta. The servers were great, food was awesome, the space is neat, and we had a lovely time.
4. Mercato Centrale. The cutest food court! Great spot if people you’re with are all craving different items. There’s plenty of seating, tons of food options, and again– free bathrooms.
5. Osteria Pastella. We had dinner here on our last night in Florence and it did the trick. The restaurant has a dish where they flambé parmesan and prepare your pasta table side in the parmesan wheel. There’s also someone in the front window making pasta as you enter. I shared more about it in my YouTube video if you’re interested!
6. Caffè Gilli. I only picked up a treat here after dinner one night but the place was adorable. I got the gummies which were so good and I would absolutely go back for a full meal/dessert next time I’m in town!
Cool Shops in Florence
Whenever I’m traveling somewhere, I like to stop into local shops if I’m doing any type of shopping. You can certainly go to the high end designer stores like Gucci, there’s an entire area just for that type of shopping! But if you’re looking for something a little more unique, here are some of my favorite places that we went:
1. Momo. A great vintage store in the Oltrarno neighborhood (again down the street from our hotel). Ryan had more luck here than I did, but they still have a good selection, even if on the higher end.
2. Ultra. A great men’s store with brands made in Florence!
3. Mercato del Porcellino. If you’re looking for a colorful leather bag that won’t break the bank, check out this outdoor market! I got a purse here for around 40 Euro and Ryan got a nice belt. It’s fun just to walk through and window shop, though it can get a bit crowded.
4. Recollection by Albrici. One of the coolest shops we went to in Florence. If you love costume jewelry, and all things femme and vintage, this is definitely the space for you.
5. Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Another great shop for just the experience. It’s accredited to be the oldest pharmacy in the world from 1221! The space is STUNNING with dried floral installations, beautiful floors and portraits, and even a fresco by Early Renaissance painter Mariotto di Nardo.
6. Junko Mukai. This artist’s shop is on the walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and worth the pop in. We grabbed a mini painting of a scooter and got to buy it from the artist directly. Plus he had a cat in the studio that was very friendly!
7. S.Forno. A great stop if you like cute bakeries and food related gifts. Next to the photo booth and gelato places mentioned above.
8. I Visionari. There was a rainbow of eyeglass chains in the window, so of course I had to go in. I bought so many colors and I had to stop myself from getting one of each. If you’re a fun glasses person, pop in to this local eyewear store.
So that’s it for What to Do in Florence, Italy! I’ll be back later this week with a more in depth look at our hotel. If you have any questions about anything on the list, or want to add your own recommendations for our next trip, just let me know in the comments below!