Florence is a gorgeous city, rich with culture, history, and art. It has all of the old world charm and character of a small Tuscan town, but with a modern edge and amenities that would please even the most discerning traveler. I would never recommend limiting your time in Florence to just 48 hours, but if you must, this is what you can’t miss:
Florence is the perfect size city to venture on foot, and the only time I would take a taxi is when you arrive with your baggage. Drop your bags off in your room that looks out over the Ponte Vecchio, put on your walking shoes, and set out to explore. Make sure you stop off at the front desk and ask for a map; even those that have been to Florence before can get lost in its dead ends and maze of streets.
Travel just north of the hotel and you’ll arrive at Piazza della Signoria. This plaza is full of beautiful archways, towers, and a fountain. This is one of my favorite places in Florence; when I have more than 48 hours I love to bring a book and espresso and enjoy people-watching and reading.
Italy’s best gelato is at Vivoli (vee-VO-lee). This small gelateria is a very difficult place to find, so stop at a local shop, and ask the owner where it is. You’ll know when you’re getting close, as the smell of fresh-baked cones will beckon you to the front door. I recommend asking for samples of the gelato.
Now it’s a good time to walk to the Duomo, about six blocks northwest. With a quick walk around the Duomo, you can take in all of the beautiful colors and architecture that surround this massive cathedral. While you can climb to the top of the dome to see all of Florence and the Tuscan countryside, I prefer to climb to the top of the tower, Giotto’s Campanile. This is a very old tower with 414 steep, narrow stairs. Just when you think you have reached the top, you happen upon another set of stairs that takes you higher each time until you reach the fenced-in top of the tower. From here, you can see all of Florence and also snap photos of the Duomo with the beautiful Tuscan countryside in the background.
For dinner, travel back toward the hotel and stop into Il Latini. Their menu changes depending on what is readily available from the Tuscan countryside, so you know it is always fresh and of the highest quality. Purchase a bottle of wine from their wine cellar to enjoy with dinner, and relax. Most Italians eat late, so the further into the evening, the more difficult to get in for dinner. After dinner, take the five-minute walk back to the hotel.
Florence is much more lax about their first meal of the day than the US, so begin the next day with an espresso dolce – to be sipped with a small pastry. It’s the best breakfast to have while sitting along the side streets and watching the morning traffic. The best place to do this in Florence is by the Duomo, at Caffe Scudieri. Their glass cases of beautiful pastries mixed with the marble counter and rich aroma of coffee are not to be missed. Do yourself a favor and order a cannoli, too; you can thank me later.
Next up: the Uffizi Gallery. This is one of the most famous museums in the world, and though you could spend days here, I would recommend limiting yourself to just a couple hours. From Raphael to Rembrandt, Michelangelo to Da Vinci, this museum is filled with all of the greats and is also home to Michelangelo’s David. As magnificent as you would imagine this work of art to be, you can’t truly appreciate it until you’ve seen it in person.
For lunch, Trattoria Roberto is just behind the Uffizi and serves up a fairly inexpensive lunch that is always tasty. Try the fresh pasta, which never disappoints!
After lunch, walk to the Ponte Vecchio and travel to the other side of the river. The Ponte Vecchio is full of interesting shops but is also quite the tourist trap, and nearly everything here is overpriced. Across the bridge and a few blocks south is the famous Giulio Giannini paper store. Florence is known for the beautiful patterned and marbled papers that cover journals, make picture frames and wrap gifts. Paper shops are on every street in Florence, so the key is to find colors and patterns that you love, as each design is exclusive to that shop.
For dinner, make your way to Ora d’Aria—and you’ll definitely need reservations ahead of time. This upscale restaurant is modern Italian and is definitely a splurge meal for the trip to Florence. But not without reason, as the food here is supreme. I have had dreams about their “Tiramisu Espresso”. Ora d’Aria is a wonderful place to relax for a long dinner with a bottle of wine and great company.
Retire to your hotel room for the evening and rest for your next destination—perhaps one of Inspirato’s homes in the heart of Tuscany?
Oh, the adventures you can have…