Florence, Italy: one of my favorite places in the world. It began with a study abroad trip during college – the five months I spent living in the city stole my heart. I love wandering the cobblestone streets, taking in the ancient buildings, stopping at little piazzas and sitting in cafes drinking cappuccinos.
Throughout my time in the city, I’ve tried more than a few cafes, eaten my fair share of pasta and gelato and walked most of the cobblestone streets. If you are planning to visit Florence, you can’t miss:
- Piazzale Michaelangelo: bring a blanket and a bottle of wine to this square for sunset and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of of the city
- La Proscuitteria: the most delicious charcuterie boards with a great ambiance on one of my favorite streets in Florence, Via dei Neri
- The Duomo: this one is an obvious one and I’ve visited the Duomo many times, but not until this past visit had I climbed to the top. Climbing to the top is an experience in itself (be prepared for dark, small stairwells) but the views are well worth it.
- Gusta Pizza & Gusta Osteria: having lived across the street, I frequented both Gusta Pizza and Gusta Osteria… both amazing! The pizzeria serves fresh, made-to-order pizzas that are sometimes heart-shaped 🙂 I recommend ordering a pizza to go and eating it on the steps of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito (just a half a block away). The osteria is just as good with tradition Tuscan food – my favorites are the picci pappardelle and and gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce (shown above).
- Oltrarno: a neighborhood in Florence, Oltrarno means ‘beyond the Arno.’ It is away from the tourist crowds but still close to the heart of the city. Many restaurant and shops that the locals frequent.
- Vivoli Gelateria: it is the oldest gelato shop in Florence, and although it is now well-known (can be found in all the guidebooks), it still remains very good. I also recommend Gelateria La Carraia, Gelateria dei’ Neri, Marco Ottaviano, Grom, and Carapina.
- La Terrazza at Hotel Continentale: visit this rooftop bar and watch the sun set over the Arno river. Another great secret rooftop is at the top of La Rinascente – take the elevator to the fourth floor and the stairs up to the rooftop. Get a cappucino and watch the people below in Piazza della Signoria.
- Salumeria Verdi (aka Pino’s): my favorite place to get a panino in Florence. Another good panini spot is All’Antico Vinaio (my suggestion is to go at an off-hour to avoid long lines!)
- Osteria Santo Spirito: visit this osteria in the low-key Piazza Santo Spirito for the truffle gnocchi.
- News Cafe: stop by for a cappuccino and you’ll be amazed at the latte art!