Florence + Tuscany
We took the train from Rome to Florence. It was a really easy train ride- only takes about 90 minutes. The train station in Florence is walking distance to all of the major landmarks, so you are probably okay walking (as opposed to grabbing a cab) once you arrive into town.
Florence is beautiful, romantic and much smaller (and cleaner) than Rome. I was so excited to spend three days exploring with Casey and our Moms!
Where to stay:
When visiting Florence, I would highly recommend staying in a central location. Like I said above, Florence is a much smaller city in comparison to Rome, so you can pretty much walk anywhere you want to go.
We stayed about a block away from the Duomo and I thought it was a perfect location. We were able to walk everywhere that we needed (including the train station and across the river), plus we had plenty of dining options right outside of our door!
Our Airbnb in Florence (keep in mind that we had four people with us at this point in the trip, which is why we got such a big place!)
Where to eat:
Similar to Rome, you really can’t go wrong in Florence. There are countless cafes along every street serving some of the best pizza and pasta that you’ve ever tasted. I would definitely suggest sitting outside by the Duomo at night for dinner. You’ll probably pay a little more for the location, but your view is spectacular!
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably eaten so much pizza & pasta during your time in Italy, that you’re starting to become an actual noodle. And don’t get me wrong, I love Italian food. Spaghetti is an entire food group for me. But, we were feeling the need for a change and wanted some non-tube-shaped food for our next meal.
Feeling the same way? Check out Off the Hook, which is a great American-style restaurant close to the center of Florence. They serve a great burger and Greek salad!
What to do:
- Walk Around
Florence is a perfect walking city. Everything is really close and you probably only need a day or two to explore. My recommendation would be to aimlessly wander around the center of the city and take in all of the sights. It seemed like around every nook & cranny there was another church or public square. And if your feet get tired, Florence is also an excellent place to sit on a bench and people watch!
Once you’ve seen Central Florence, make your way across the Arno River and hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo , which is free (yay!) and it will give you an amazing view of the entire city.Also, if you’re a fan of gelato (and who isn’t), make sure to stop by Il Gelato de Filo, which is located near the stairs to get to the top of the hill. Some of the best gelato in the city!
After you finish at the Piazzale Michelangelo (and you have your gelato), head back to the center of Florence by way of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. Without a doubt the most well known bridge in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is also the oldest. The bridge is unique, in that both sides of the bridge are lined with shops. Jewelers, art dealers, souvenir shops galore!
2. Tour the Duomo
Being the most impressive structure in all of Florence, touring the Duomo is a must. You have the option to buy the “all access” pass for about $20-30, which I’ll be honest we didn’t do. This pass gets you into five or six other buildings around the Duomo and I believe you can access the top of the dome with this pass as well.
However, if you’re tight on a budget like us, you can enter the main part of the Duomo for free. Even if you don’t want to shell out the money for the extra stuff, you should at least go inside the Duomo and see the impressive artwork inside of the dome.
3. Spend an afternoon in Tuscany
That’s right, the last “must do” in Florence actually involves leaving Florence. Trust me on this one.
Now, some people will choose to make Tuscany a separate stop on their tour de Italy, which is perfectly fine and I’m sure it’s an awesome decision. However, if you just want to make an afternoon of it, there are some awesome options to do so.
We opted for an afternoon Tuscan Wine Tour which picked us up from the main train station in Florence and shuttled us out to the Chianti region of Tuscany. The bus ride took about an hour, and on the way the tour guide gave some great facts about Florence and the Tuscan region as a whole. (Fun Fact: If your Chianti wine doesn’t have a black rooster on the label, then it’s not authentic Tuscan Chianti!)
The wine tour stopped at two different locations for tastings. One of which was a family winery (Poggio Amorelli Vineyard) and the other tasting was within a wine cellar located in a small, castle-like town. For around $30-40 a person, the tour was a great value and we had a wonderful afternoon drinking wine with our Mom’s and enjoying the stunning Tuscan landscape.