I was very excited to get back to Florence – it was my last trip in 2017 (in October, it sure took me a while to edit these pictures and write this) before starting university and I had been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed in Renaissance Italy, so yes, this was very high up on the list. And I truly had the best time, one day excluded it was very warm and sunny – almost summerish. Now, I want to share a couple of things you shouldn’t miss while being in Florence. It is also the perfect city as a start to visiting Tuscany or as a base to make a couple of trips to the surrounding towns – I will write about the ones I visited too.
The really touristy stuff. First of, most museums are free of charge on the first Sunday every month, so in case you’re in the city during that time, look up for which ones that applies. Yes, it is worth booking the whole ticket to see the Doumo, the Campanile, the museum, the old cathedral and the baptistry – that last one especially because it is stunning and the ceiling painting depicts a various scenes Christian religious canon. Same goes for the Uffizi, book the tickets beforehand – I did not book my tickets for the Museo dell’Academia beforehand (where David is exhibited) and waited about an hour, that was okay for me, because the weather was fantastic, but it sure is better to get them ahead of time – or be early, as for Ponte Vecchio – go there super early or super late, I mean, it is always stuffed, but it is worth having a look at the little shops on the bridge. I would also say it’s worth visiting Piazza Michelangelo, it’s a nice “hike” to the piazza and you have a fantastic view.
The touristy stuff. While being directly at Piazza della Signora Palazzo Vecchio is surprisingly uncrowded on the inside. You can have a look at the atrium without paaying the entrance fee, but it is indeed worth going inside as well and having a look at the rooms – and out of the windows. More crowded, but still less than I expected was Palazzo Pitti and the Giardini Boboli – the gardens are obviously super enjoyable for walking around, but the rooms inside the palazzo feature so much wonderful art and costumes from past eras, it is stunning. Right above the Gardens you can enter Belvedere – there is usually a exhibition/installion (look at the picture with the enormous skeletton in the background) going on, too, but it is also just worth the view – especially if you don’t want to be pushed around on Piazza Michelangelo on sunny days.
The not so touristy stuff.
If however you find yourself walking up to Piazza Michelangelo, walk via the Giardino delle Rose, a beautifully curated garden of roses that also has a nice view over the city and just lovely entwined ways. While the Dante quarter is quite crowded, his birth house with a wonderfully curated museum sure is not. Of course, it depends on whether the Divina Comedia and his life interest you, but for me that was a very interesting visit. Same goes for the Museo Galileo – he is famous, but somehow his museum in Florence is not – they have tons of interesting scientific instruments and even a place where you can try things yourself. As always I have to mention the Museo Geologia & Palaeontologia along with the Botanical Garden in San Marco. The museum has a lot of beautiful exhibition pieces with very interesting information provided – though, of course, earth sciences are quite popular in Tuscany I assume from the research/digging done. A church I would definitely recomment is Santo Spirito, very subdued in a very calm place of the city. If you find the time, don’t miss out on San Lorenzo, the entire quarter is very lovely, but especially the basilica and the monastery are quite interesting. And of course, Palazzo Martelli is incredibly beautiful.
Food. There are tons of wonderful places to eat at, but if you’re looking for a nice gelato, don’t miss out on La Bottega del Gelato/The Stickhouse – they basically sell regular Ice Cream on a stick, it tastes super fresh and amazing and can be covered in chocolate, nuts etc. One of my favourite things to eat is fried vegetables which are very popular in Italy, I had a delicous serving at Rivalata Café and another one at Il Fritto inside Mercato Centrale. If you’re looking for a place to eat near the Duomo, Loggia degli Albizi has delicious food. And on the other side of the river, Caffé Oltrano which is quite popular among students has very tasty snacks and the owner is very lovely. I had breakfast more than once from this adorable place near my hostel (Santa Monaca which was quite lovely with incredibly nice staff and very nice other guest too!), S.forno – a bakery that was just adorable and the food was delicious and fresh (Via Santa Monaca, 3/R)!
Vintage Shopping with no end. Rarely have I been to a place with as many Vintage shops as Florence – so obviously there is a price range from bargain to over the top expensive, but I try to give a little overview. La Belle Epoque (Borgo Pinti 24/R) is stuffed with a wide range of things from all eras, you will find 80s pieces as well as 50s ones and all to a decent price. One adorable shop with a mix of Vintage and Vintage inspired pieces is Lady Jane B Vintage (Via dei Pilastri, 32), a small adorable store with a lovely sales assistant and also a vary of handmade accessoires. I am sure if I was living in Florence I’d go there quite often. Same goes for Giratempo Vintage (Piazzeta piero Calamandrei, 2), which is very focused on 50s Vintage with a lot of lovely pieces, though a bit pricier – it’s very central, so you can definitely drop by without much ado. If you enjoy a large selection with a lot of fancy dresses Street Doing Vintage (Via dei Servi, 88/R) might be interesting. From the outside it looks just like every other Vintage store, but then you get in and walk to the back and ther is just so much stuff and also they have a section just for accessoires, particularly glasses! A street with a lot of Vintage shops is Via dei Fossi with Epoca Vintage (Via dei Fossi, 6), medium prices with a wide selection and Cancello Vintage (Via dei Fossi, 13/R), specially selected, more unique pieces – but of course at a higher price. If you walk along the stree over the Arno you get to Via dei Serragli and find even more Vintage shops, among them Momo Vintage (Via dei Serragli, 7/R), Ceri Vintage (Via dei Serragli, 26) and Recollection by Albrici (Via dei Serragli, 22) and there is probably something for every taste – even though a lot of it is a bit on the expensive side.
A few more shops. Basically a must stop for me is the Disney Store and the Pinocchio Store. Both, pretty self explaining. If you are looking for fabulous fabrics, to stop at Valli Tessuti (Via della Vigna Nuova, 81/R), even though it is pricy, it is worth just having a look. Mesticheria Tucci (Via dei Servi, 76) is the place to go in case you want to see one of those typical Italian shops owned by little old men and stuffed with everything from cups to cleaning rugs.
Last but not least I want to share a couple of treasures I found in Florence. Most importantly my second Scott McClintock dress – it is a little big on me, but I could not resist this dream in white – I actually wore it on Halloween for my undead bride/demon outfit. At the Disney store I got a lovely Donald Ornament, because he is one of my favourite characters and this particular one is so vintage-y, I’m in love. Along with it a Leia on Endor Tsum Tsum. At various Vintage/Knick-Knack Stores I found a black beret like I have been looking for, a Pinocchio Pin, a Florin, a Star Wars Mug and a cute postcard. Also I picked up a chestnut and brought that home and since the hostel did not have free tea, I got some Twinings Lemon Scented Black Tea after my trip to Lucca – ever since then I really developed a taste for black tea! Oh, and of course the fabric I got in Luccs which I already turned into a dress here.