Birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence has been consistently ranked in those ‘cities you must visit before you die’ or ‘world’s most beautiful places’ lists since their inception. And for good reason, it legitimately looks like a film set. Around every corner you stumble across another stunning example of 15th century architecture, or a bigger-than-lifesize marble statue.

With so much available it can feel a little overwhelming, so here are my 5 favourite things from my recent trip, just remember to pack comfortable walking shoes!

Drink

1. Now while Florence is the home of the Negroni – it was invented when Count Negroni wanted something stronger so the bartender added gin to the then classic cocktail; Milano Torino – who could say no to €4 Spritz?

Just of Piazza della Passerà , delightfully translating to ‘pussy square’ in reference to its past as the red light district, Bulli e Balene is actually modeled on the bacaros of Venice which serve little snacks or cicchetti alongside your drinks.

It serves seven types of spritzes from the ubiquitous Aperol, to the refreshing elderflower Hugo and my personal favourite Select.

Bulli e Balene via dello Sprone, 14R 

2. I was told one piece of advice about my trip to Florence, by an actual Italian so it was to be heeded; stay away from squares. She told me everything will be overpriced and not the best quality. I paid attention to her advice for the whole trip, but then on the last night I was drawn in by one and what a gem it turned out to be.

Note di Vino is a small but perfectly formed wine bar, with it’s outside seating looking directly towards Santa Croce. Choose a bottle from it’s impressive wine list and enjoy over a sharing platter – the perfect way to while an evening away.

Note di Vino Borgo dei Greci, 4

Enjoying some Vin Santo and cantucci for dessert at Note di Vino

Eat

3. I have to say the one downside to Florence is that it felt like the most touristy place I’ve ever been to, which basically means you have to pre-book dinner everywhere, and that ruins the spontaneity for me.

So, why not do as the locals do and get a takeaway pizza and buy a bottle of wine to enjoy next to the river – close to the Ponte Vecchio is prime people watching territory.

As a side, but very important note, practically all Italian wines will be under cork – so it’s a case of either remembering to bring your own corkscrew or asking if the shop can open it up for you (I saw lots of corkscrews by tills just for this reason!)

Frolic

Inside a fancy looking church that isn’t the Duomo

4. Florence is without doubt a place to just walk around, with all roads leading to the Duomo.

It is an incredible building and quite possibly the most beautiful structure I’ve ever seen – on the outside. The inside for me is a little lacking, although the dome’s fresco is awesome in the true sense of the word.

Tickets are sold with varying access and you might be tempted to go for the one that gives you everything (including climbing up the dome), but my advice would be get the cheaper one that allows you into the bell tower instead – the Giotto pass.

I never saw a queue for the tower the whole time I was there, plus you get just as good of a view.

More time and money to enjoy spritzes!

Duomo

Shop

5. Fun fact – the Mercato Centrale was built when Florence was the capital of Italy.

It’s an indoor food market that sells everything you could want, with downstairs having a more traditional vibe with butchers, fruit/veg stalls and fishmongers and upstairs being more of a modern food court.

I had a big Schiacciata sandwich, a type of bread traditional to the region which tastes like Focaccia, washed down with a glass of Bolgheri wine.

A feast for the eyes and tummy.

Mercato Centrale

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