<aside> 🔢 City classification
Florence is probably my favourite capital city in Italy, with Rome as a close second. At 10% the size of Rome, you can walk around most of Florence in under a day. But I’d recommend 2 days at least, and realistically you can spend 2 months there and still be discovering new things. Like all non-coastal Italian cities, the ideal time to visit is May/June or September — the weather’s more permitting, and the local/tourist ratio dramatically increases (i.e. more locals and fewer tourists). Outside of those periods, I’d cap any non-coastal Italian city at 3 days.
I’ll structure this guide through the lens of a two-day trip to Florence, but obviously pick out the relevant recommendations an
Spend your first day walking through the centre of Florence. The Duomo is a must see, both inside and out. It’s find it the second most amazing church in the world (after Sagrada Familia). Just north of the Duomo is a famous sandwich shop called l’Antico Vinaio. I’d go before 11am or after 2:30pm, else you risk lining up for over an hour in peak season.
Whilst in the centre of the city, you might want to visit two of the most famous art galleries in Italy: The Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia where you’ll find the David. If you prefer history to art, I’d recommend a self-guided audio tour around the centre of the city. Grab a headset, walk around the city, and occasionally press the button to get your history fix.
If you’re looking for lunch spots, Osteria Nuvoli or Buca dell’Orafo, in the centre of Florence, are great for local Tuscan food.
As the evening comes around, the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo is unmissable (you might have seen it on my Instagram). Piazzale Michelangelo is buzzing with life from 6pm until late. As the sun sets around 9pm, you can descend to streets below the piazza where there are lots of great restaurants. Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò is a good option, but you’ll most likely need a booking. Zeb, which is basically next door, is even better for food, but you’ll sacrifice on atmosphere and affordability, and you’ll 100% need to book in advance.
If nightlife is your thing, one of Florence’s few clubs, Flo, is just off Piazzale Michelangelo, so you’ll find yourself right on the doorstep.
For day 2, there are multiple ways to cut this. One option is you play catch up on anything from the above list that you missed on day 1. But my recommendation would to visit Antinori, a vineyard 30 minutes from Florence, that I think is one of the most beautiful modern buildings in the world. If you’re with friends, you can split a 40 euro taxi, and then a tour of Atinori will set you back another 40 euro — but I think it’s worth it.
Returning to Florence, I’d make this the night to check out the Santo Spirito area. You can walk over the Ponte Vecchio around 7pm and make your way to Piazza Santo Spirito. La Loggia bar has a view over all of Florence, as well as nice drinks. For dinner, you have lots of options in the area: O’ Munaciello for great Neapolitan pizza, Hostaria dal Fulvio for nice food and a great vibe, or Il Santo Bevitore for even better food, but maybe a slightly ‘older’ vibe. After dinner, Santino is chic local hangout for drinks / nibbles, or more casually, 20m down the road you’ll find the ‘wine window’, which is a little hole in a stone wall that serves well-priced drinks. Sbrino, my favourite gelato in Florence, is just 50m up the road. They use milk from their own farm and high-quality ingredients to match.
At this time, you might want to return to Piazza Santo Spirito, where you’ll find locals and tourists alike, drinking outdoors till late at night. Or if you excellent cocktails, Rasputin, just off the piazza, is the go. Though you’ll probably have to book, the prices are above average, and I wouldn’t visit before 10pm.