Adventures in Florence, Italy

We could have spent weeks on end in Florence alone and never be bored! There is so much to do and see, not to mention eat!

I’ll start from the beginning. We stayed at the most charming apartment-style hotel, Granduomo, right in the middle of everything. It’s an 18th-century home that has been renovated into boutique accommodations located directly across from the famed Duomo. We seriously felt like we could reach out and touch it! I’ll have to follow up with a completely separate post about the hotel itself, but suffice to say that it was perfect.

Sightseeing
Johnny and I don’t prefer to hit up every museum when we travel, but if you are someone who does, you may want to purchase the Firenze Card. It’s 72 euro and gets you into all the big museums, with priority access (“skip the line”). We didn’t opt for this, but only toured the Duomo and Academia.

The Duomo is quite a hike to the top of the tower, but very worth it, as you see all of the best views of the city, not to mention the historic interior paintings you glimpse when walking the inside of the dome. Bring a bottle of water and skip the heavy meal and wine beforehand. It’s crowded, narrow, dark, winding staircases, with a big reward. While we didn’t purchase the Firenze Card, we did purchase the skip the line option and it was well worth it.

I went by myself to the Academia, and only to see Michelangelo’s David and a few other surrounding exhibits. (Johnny slept in!) I went early, within the first half hour of opening, and still had to wait 30-40 minutes to get in. Buy early.

Watch the sunset on the steps at Piazzale Michelangelo. We took the hike from town, which was quite a walk, but stopped along the way for a bottle of wine to bring to the top. Make sure you have a wine key and two small cups. You’ll sit among the crowds, also with their bottles of wine, and enjoy a light snack as the sun goes down. Our evening was overcast and it still was beautiful.

Shopping
Florence has plenty of shopping, whether you’re looking for high-end designer bags, or local leather goods and jewelry. Santa Croce is a great area for local leather goods or scarves. Johnny and I both bought leather jackets at a nearby shop, and I found a purse at Peruzzi.

I had my eye on luggage from Bric’s and it’s made in Italy, not far from Florence. I bought a piece of luggage from the local store and left my suitcase with our hotel. I lucked out and the entire store was having a sale (which made Johnny even happier)!

Wine
Hands down, one of our favorite parts of our entire honeymoon was a Tuscan wine tour. It was a great way to see a little bit of Tuscany, and learn a little about Chianti wine, and almost all 17 people on the tour were around our age. We stopped at three wineries, finishing with lunch at one of the wineries, complete with meat and cheese, and handmade pasta, before heading back to town. The tour was through the Tuscan Wine School and we opted for Tuscan Wine Time.

Several people told us to simply order the table wine at every restaurant. In some cases, this was a home run, but in others, not so much. Johnny and I are mild wine snobs (ok, mostly me), who don’t necessarily equate price to a good bottle of wine. I would recommend talking to servers at each restaurant and sticking to Chianti Classico, which the Tuscan tour will explain is usually higher quality than Chianti. We did find it to be true that a good bottle of wine is certainly not hard to come by and doesn’t have to come with a hefty price (think less than $20 US in even nicer restaurants).

Food
You can’t go wrong with the food in Florence! Nearly every little café has wonderful meats and cheese, let alone pasta and pizza. (I went 100% GF after my honeymoon, but was surprised at the amount of places that did offer GF pasta and pizza, had I decided to go that route.) Some of our favorite meals were the little shops we stopped in for pizza or pasta; places without the hype, but with great service and food – not to mention wine. We started our gelato and Aperol Spritz fest in Venice, but it got much more serious in Florence! We also stopped for plenty of espresso!

Mercato Centrale is a local food market with small stations serving up a variety of options, along with wine or beer pairings. We stopped by during an odd time of day, but did have a light snack and wished we had planned a lunch there. It reminded me of the Chelsea Market in New York.

Acqua Al 2 (pronounced “Acqua al duo”) was mentioned to us by many people, so we went there for dinner one of the evenings. This place is very touristy and is best when you have reservations, and then you’ll still likely wait in line. Truthfully, we were slightly underwhelmed, but I only mention it because so many people recommended it to us. You can get a nice sampler of their many pastas and the food was good, but it was not our favorite place. We also were at a very small table next to only one other small table, and were stuck listening to college students complain about petty friend drama…so that didn’t help! I would also advise against the house wine there, but the bottle we changed it out for was great.

All’ Antico Vinaio came highly recommended as the best sandwich in Florence, and I don’t doubt it, as the line was down the street at BOTH locations, which are right across the street from each other. We were hungry and not eager to wait in line, so we opted for La Prosciutteria, located on the same street and offering up similar sandwiches. A pharmacist with a shop next to it claimed it was just as good, if not better. There was still a line, but we were able to get to the sandwiches and wine so much quicker, which were fantastic!

Our final night was spent at La Gisotra, with more meat, cheese, pasta and wine. Are you seeing a trend here? The atmosphere was a mix between cozy and electric, with a hip staff and boisterous crowd, nestled into a cave-like series of small rooms. This was more romantic than some of the other nights and was definitely one of my favorite meals in the city.

We parted ways with Florence, aboard the train to Naples and out to the Amalfi Coast. I knew I was excited about our next leg of the trip, but truly could have stayed in Florence so much longer than our three nights!

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