Florence, Italy felt like a dream.
Italy has been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. So I’m so happy that Brandon and I were able to see this beautiful country.
There is so much to do in Florence and only had two days to make the most out of the city, so we made sure to definitely maximize our time exploring and eating.
Here are 10 Things to Do in Florence for the first time:
*Our two rules for selecting a place to eat in Florence were:
1. Don’t eat at a place with photos plastered outside of the restaurant (they tend to be crowded with tourists).
2. Eat a place that has people eating in the restaurant.
With these two rules, here are a few places to eat in Florence:
1. Enoteca Lombardi (near the river)
As I attempted to buy a sim card across the street, my friends stumbled upon this place. They had a fairly small store front but actually had a restaurant that came out to a courtyard in the back. We split a 2-person meat/cheese plate that came with a bottle of wine (this 2 person plate literally fed our group of 4).
We had the best balsamic vinegar we’ve ever had in our life and also tried limoncello for the first time. We learned that limoncello is lemon liquor that is served after dinner to help you digest.
2. For a fancier dinner, eat at 4 Leoni.
This restaurant was a recommendation from one of our friends so we decided to go here our last night in Florence. This restaurant served the best lasagna I’ve ever had.
3. For a lunch, eat at Mercato Centrala Firenze.
The market is down below and the second story is filled with a ton of different restaurants. We ordered caprese from one place, the best margherita pizza I’ve ever had at a pizza place, tried the orange sprizter for the first time, and even tried some pizza pockets.
We learned after visiting this incredible place that you can sign up for cooking classes! So if you’re wanting to take a cooking class while visiting Florence, I’d recommend coming here!
4. For dinner, eat at Osteria Vecchio Vicolo.
We wandered away from the tourists at dinner time and decided to explore in one of the roads that split off from the main road. We stumbled upon Vecchio Vicolo and decided to sit down. This place did not disappoint. Brandon ordered this pasta dish with an egg on top and it was incredible.
5. Head over to the Catterdrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or in other words the Duomo.
This incredibly beautiful cathedral was completed in the 1400s and it can be seen above the city skyline. This cathedral literally took my breath away!
6. Walk across the bridges of Florence.
The Pointe Vecchio bridge has a bunch of jewelry shops, people playing music throughout the day and the evening, and a great view of the other bridges in Florence!
7. The best view of Florence is up at the Michelangelo Plaza.
Instead of stopping where the hundreds of tourists are at, continue up the hill to the Chiesa di San Salvatore al Monte (a church located directly above the Plaza). Since the church is above the scenic stopping point, you get the same view of the city!
8. Explore all of Florences famous plazas/squares. My favorite plazas we went to were:
- Piazza Santa Maria Novella
- Piazza della Republica
- Piazza San Lorenzo (this is near the Mercato Centrale!)
- Piazza della Santissima Anunnziata
9. Explore Tuscany!
If you have more time in Italy, I highly recommend taking a day to explore Tuscany and go horse back riding. I can’t believe I can say that I’ve been horseback riding through the Tuscan hills… but I have!
I highly recommend renting a day for one day to take the hour long drive from Florence to Tuscany. We booked a 2 hour horse ride trip and a private 3-course lunch with Tegoni Farm. The lunch cooked for us (pasta, salad, cured meat plate and vanilla ice cream) was made with the ingredients grown on the farm. I’ve only ever ridden a horse once in my life, but I still had a great time!
10. Walk through the museums!
Sadly, we came all the way to Florence and ran into the two days the Uffizi museum was close….If I could go back to Florence, I would absolutely spend the day wandering through Uffizi or the rest of the beautiful museums Florence has to offer!
There is so much to see and do in Florence…
I’d recommend just picking 3-5 placed you want to see in a day so you can spend some time just wandering the streets. The architecture in Florence is nothing like I’ve ever seen before or even seen in the United States. So if you’re heading to Florence soon, give yourself time to wander!
Thank you for reading!
Photos: Brandon Ellednt
Photos Edited by: Holly Phan
One of the places I studied abroad was in Florence! It's so amazing and I miss it so much! I can imagine that it's different exploring the city as a visitor vs as a student. Mercato Centrale was the first place I ever ate and I agree that they have some of the best pizza I've ever had! So glad you got to visit!