As charmed as we were by our visit to Venice, we were finally off to the region we were most excited to visit—Tuscany. Florence is Tuscany’s capital, and is home to some of the most iconic sights in Italy. And with only a day and a half to visit, we planned to make use of every moment in the home of the Renaissance. Read on for my guide to Florence!
Photos can’t really do justice to Florence’s massive cathedral—The Duomo. Covered in pink, white and green marble sheets, every inch of the façade has something to catch the eye. As soon as we checked into our Airbnb, we beelined for the Piazza del Duomo to finally see this striking structure for ourselves. But our moment to really explore the Duomo would have to wait … at nearly three in the afternoon, the piazza was crowded with tour groups. Instead, we used our Skip the Line tickets at the Galleria dell’Accademia—we had a date with Michelangelo’s David.
The Accademia is blessedly cool (if crowded), and aside from David, is filled with Renaissance sculptures, paintings and altarpieces that are worth a quick look. But if you’re not an art aficionado, save it for the Uffizi.
Once we saw David, it was time for gelato … and in Florence, there’s a gelateria just about everywhere you look. We stepped into Gelateria Carabè for what would become our first of many scoops. After exploring the Palazzo Vecchio and the most insane, cheesy lasagna from Trattoria Pallottino, we turned in early to get some rest before tackling the best of Florence in one day.
We arrived at Piazza del Duomo at about 8 AM, and it was worth the early wake up call—there was nary a selfie stick in sight.
Rick Steves’ self-guided walk through Florence took us to the Loggia dei Lanzi—an outdoor sculpture gallery featuring the famous statue of Perseus beheading Medusa—and ended at the famed Ponte Vecchio.
After such a long walk, it was high time to fortify ourselves with gelato. About this mountain of gelato—in the gelateria line, I eagerly planned the two scoops I wanted. When it was my turn to order I pointed to the cone I wanted. Turns out, the cone came with four scoops … with dozens impatiently awaiting their own chance at some gelato, it was too late to change course. After rattling off stracciatella (my absolute favorite), coffee, strawberry and hazelnut, we ran to a wall across the street and Zach snapped a few photos while gelato melted down my arm. (Seriously, my husband deserves a medal for putting up with me.) Once we got the shot, yes, we did eat this entire thing.
Energized from our massive cone, we set out to explore the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. The latter offers by far the best views of Florence—the sprawling cityscape on one side and iconic Tuscan rolling hills on the other.
Does anyone else nerd out exploring the palatial homes of royalties past? I mean, just check out this bathroom!
We returned to the Santa Croce district to change before setting out for dinner at Il Santo Bevitore, which was probably the best meal we had in Italy up to that point. If you go to Florence, definitely make a reservation and if suckling pig is on the menu, trust me: just order it.