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Florence City Guide

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Art, architecture, food, culture and history….Florence has it all. The nucleus of the Renaissance should be at the top of your travel list if you haven’t already visited. Unlike Rome and Milan, Florence has a much more “homey” feel to it. It’s easy to immerse oneself in the Florentine lifestyle and find yourself never wanting to leave. This guide is a compilation of our favorite attractions, restaurants, accommodations, and things to do. Plus we also provided a few helpful phrases that you’ll want to leverage not only in Florence but all throughout Italy. We have built this Florence city guide over the last few years after living in Florence and having returned on an annual basis. If you have any specific questions about Florence, please feel free to contact us.

Florence City Guide

Updated June 2018

~Where to stay in Florence, Italy~

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Skyscanner commissioned us to put together a blog featuring the best hotels in Florence, so it’s safe to say we have pretty thoroughly vetted the best hotels in Florence.

As far as location within the city, we suggest one of the following areas: Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Santo Spirito, Piazza Santa Croce, Piazza Santa Maria Novella or Piazza del Carmine. Each piazza has a unique vibe and is within walking distance to any of the main attractions in Florence.

The best hotels in Florence include:

Four Seasons Firenze

Lungarno Collection

St. Regis

Villa Cora

Hotel Savoy

Westin Excelsior

Plus Hostel is also one of, if not the most, popular hostels in Florence and offers a unique location a bit outside the center. With more of a local vibe and a short 5-minute walk to the train station, this is a great option for young travelers.

Airbnb

We have never actually stayed in a hotel. They are quite honestly overpriced and a bit touristy. While opulent, they provide a type of experience we are not typically looking for in Florence. We leverage Airbnb in Florence (and most parts of Italy) for a number of reasons. Italian hosts are the kings and queens of Airbnb. They do a fantastic job of cultivating the type of experience that Airbnb intends to create. They often provide breakfast, tend to your needs, and one time our favorite host even came over to teach us an Italian cooking class! Airbnbs in Florence also provides you the opportunity to stay in more local neighborhoods and have more of a local vibe during your stay. The Piazza Duomo is lovely, but it is crowded and loud. We prefer Oltrarno (other side of the Arno) where it is more local, quiet, and peaceful. The only noises you tend to here on this side are Vespas echoing on the brick buildings.

~Where to eat in Florence, Italy~

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The food you’ll eat in Florence will definitely be some of, if not the best, food you enjoy on your trip to Italy. This is one of many reasons that Florence is one of our 20 best destinations for couples. We make an effort to update this Florence guide as often as possible, as we are always trying new restaurants and caffes when we visit Florence each year. This blog does not include all of our favorites restaurants in Florence, because we choose to only promote the ones that are already popular. A number of our favorite restaurants are hole-in-the-wall osterias and trattorias that we do not include in blogs and social media posts. These restaurants are local favorites where you will likely never see another tourist. To keep them that way, we keep them out of the blog and social media.

Our current list of best restaurants in Florence is:

1. Buca Lapi – Our favorite restaurant in Florence

Buca Lapi opened in 1880 and has been serving Florentines the best bistecca in the world ever since.

  • Bistecca Fiorentina (best in Florence) – add sides of potatoes, spinach, etc.
  • The homemade pasta is spectacular
  • For vegan/veggie options, they have fantastic soups (kale and Tuscan Bean, etc.) as well as grilled veggies, and veggie entres etc.

2. Osteria Santo Spirito – Hand-made pasta, bistecca, fish dishes, health options

  • Gnocchi….the best we have ever had

3. Il Latini – For the family style offering and the history

Il Latini is over 100 years old and is a traditional family style Tuscan restaurant. They have a flat rate of 50 EUR/person which is all you can eat and all the wine you can drink. Remember, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

4. Gusta Pizza – (Neapolitan style pizza that will blow your mind for only about 6 or 7 EUR. Be sure to get your pizza to go and eat it on the bridge over the Arno River.)

  • Calabrese pizza is a must
  • Marinara pizza

5. Riva D’Arno – The second pizza opening under the Gusta Pizza family

  • Calabrese pizza
  • Pesto pizza
  • Marinara pizza

6. Yellow Bar – Hand-made pasta and delicious brick oven pizza

  • Carbonara
  • Gnocchi

7. All’Antico Vinaio – Best Panini in Florence

  • This place is worth the wait. They have 3 lines to serve the masses. Try one of their specials, or order to your liking. They’re cheap and delicious.

Other favorites: Borgo Antico, Acqua al 2, Gusta Panino

~Best Gelato in Florence, Italy~

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Florence is the birthplace of gelato. Having been created for the Medici family, it remains the most popular dessert in Florence. The top spot is highly coveted, but 3 gelaterias deserve to be mentioned along with the best flavors at each spot:

Gelateria de Medici

  • Crema di Medici
  • Golosso
  • Crema caramel
  • The fruit sorbetto flavors are all fantastic

La Carraia

  • Cookies
  • Nutella (seasonal)
  • Cioccomenta
  • Baccio
  • Mango
  • Passion fruit
  • Cocco

Gelateria de Neri

Salted caramel

 

 

~What to do in Florence, Italy~

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Florence has something for everyone. Some of the most popular museums in the world and some of the most fun pubs you’ll find anywhere. Some of the best attractions in Florence include:

Duomo

Ponte Vecchio

Piazza Michelangelo

Accademia Gallery

Uffizi Gallery

Pitti Palace

Boboli Gardens

Bargello Museum

Galileo Museum

~Nightlife in Florence, Italy~

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Florence has a number of night clubs/discoteques as well as many local pubs. If you’re looking for a fun night out, try any of the following venues:

  • YAB – discoteque
  • Moya – smaller bar in Santa Croce with hookah, a DJ, and a fun dance floor
  • Lochness – small local pub in Santa Croce
  • Lions Fountain – touristy Irish college pub
  • Red Garter – Great place for karaoke and beer pong
  • Bamboo – discoteque
  • HOPS Pub – local Italian pub with great beer selection
  • Astor – perfect spot for watching American football or enjoying Thursday college nights
  • Finnegans Irish Pub – also a good spot to watch NFL games or local soccer matches

~Day Trips from Florence, Italy~

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From Florence, these are the 5 best Italian day trips you can take.

 

~Helpful Italian Phrases~

Knowing a few phrases and words in the local language is always very important. Here are a few to help you get around Florence.

Ciao – Hello

Buon giorno – Hello

Come stai? – How are you? (Informal)

Come sta? – How are you? (Formal)

Bene – Good

Ciao – Goodbye (see, this is easy)

Vorrei ____ – I would like ____

Posso avere _____? – May I have _____?

Grazie – Thank you

Prego – You’re welcome

Parli inglese? – Do you speak English?

Dove ______? – Where is _____?

Be sure to avoid tourist traps in Florence.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Alysha Kai-Bravo says:

    I’m planning our first trip to Europe and using the tips you guys give here! Thanks!

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