Standing at the Airport in Pisa, I overheard some people saying how they didn’t think much of Florence and that they thought it was ‘over rated’. As a second time visitor to Florence and a lover of all things Italian, I couldn’t help but wonder what they had been looking at in order to come to this conclusion, had they been in the same city that we had just left? I know, like any other major city, there are swarms of tourists from mid-morning to early evening, but this is only on a few streets (like any other major city) and there are so many other places to explore! Its like going to London, only visiting Piccadilly Circus and then leaving saying “it was a bit busy”.
Florence is a beautiful city with lots to offer and its worth spending a little time to get under it’s skin (and in turn letting it get under yours).
Forget the queues for the Ufizzi Gallery, there are endless amounts of creativity and art to find on the streets of Florence, the beautiful thing is that it all comes together to create a visual story right across the city. From themed graffiti, outdoor street art galleries and floral arrangements, I enjoyed stumbling across all of them!
Area: The Arno
There are lots of places to stop and enjoy a view of the Arno in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is obviously full of tourists during the day, but you can come back later to enjoy a pleasant stroll without the hoards, or simply walk a few bridges up for some peace and enjoy a view of the Ponte Vecchio instead. One of my favourite evenings was when we grabbed takeaway pizza from Gusta Pizza and stood by the river watching the sunset.
Sitting by the Arno
There aren’t many places to sit on the river and enjoy a drink but if you take a little walk down to Negroni during the day (a restaurant just off a green by the Ponte all Grazie) they have a bar by the water in the day which is a quiet little hide out for an hour or two, depends how many spritz you fancy really! There is a good restaurant with a balcony over the Arno (Signorvino) that I have added below…
Area: Oltrarno (over the Arno)
Over the other side of the Arno is definitely worth a visit, dotted with artisan workshops and galleries, this is a great area to wander slowly and really look! Not so many tourists over this side so much more pleasant. There are a few places we like to stop for food, best to always make a reservation as most restaurants get full!
Dinner: Gusta Pizza
Gusta Pizza (as i mentioned earlier) serve ‘fast pizza’ from their impressive pizza oven. Cheap and cheerful, tasty pizza, very quick! You can eat in their basic cafe style shop or take away and enjoy a view somewhere (recommended)!
Breakfast/Lunch: Caffè degli Artigiani
A lovely little cafe hidden away in a tiny piazza just a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio, serves all the usual and some delicious freshly squeezed juices! They own the new Gelateria opposite too.
Aperitivo/Dinner: Il Santino/Il Santo Bevitore
We found this place on our first visit to Florence thanks to a brilliant local blogger! I would definitely recommend this for my friends Ant & Chloe who will be there later this week! Its small, quirky and perfection (in my eyes). Can we open one of these in Faversham when you guys get back please?!
Their restaurant two doors down, Il Santo Bevitore, is also to die for (French Cuisine) but you will want to make a booking if you go there.
Relatively new to this spot in Florence, Signorvino, on Via de Bardi, has balcony seating overlooking the Ponte Vecchio where you can enjoy an aperitivo or dinner. We really enjoyed sitting here a couple of evenings and the food is select and very good with a few dish choices from different Italian regions. And that’s not to mention the wine…!
Back on the Duomo side of the river. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and grab breakfast upstairs – delicious and very cheap! This is the first place I have found serving croissants in Italy (not to be confused with Italian cornetti – which are tasty but not quite the same) – happy me!
Mercato Delle Pulci
Flea market full of junk that you want but don’t need! Worth a little stroll if you are in the area, open daily, watch out for lunch time closing.
Not for everyone I know, but we seem to have got in a habit of visiting botanical gardens wherever we go, and I have to say I do love it, especially for getting a few photographs. This garden is run by the University, its similar to Pisa’s and is just peaceful to walk around. 3 euro entry so not too much to complain about. The Natural History museum is next door, we didn’t go in but looks worth a visit next time.
Giardino delle Rose
Best time of year to visit is May when the roses are all out but its still a beautiful view and walk for a morning or afternoon any time of the year. A lovely little garden just below Piazzale Michelangelo (also worth the walk for the market and views) with plenty of places to sit and enjoy a picnic and some wine!
La Scaletta Hotel
We were a bit spoilt by staying in a hotel that has a 360 rooftop view of the city so we spent quite a bit of time enjoying the afternoon in the bar and evenings with dinner and cocktails (and the loveliest staff you could ask for – would go back to this hotel just because of them!). Anyone can book to eat in the restaurant and the top terrace have two sittings, 19:30 (for the sunset) and 21:30, so if you are looking for a roof top view and great food (on the pricier side but worth it) then this is a great option.
There is so much more that I can add (and I will) but for now I think this will do! Enjoy! x