There will never be enough to say about beautiful Florence, Italy. A quick hour and a half train ride from Roma, brings you to this Tuscan city. Red rooftops, and cobbled streets swirl around the cities crown jewel; il Duomo. Everything about the city screams romance. The rumble of music, laughter and joy amongst its streets brings warmth. The architecture, captivating. The museums, moving. This is the perfect place for you are your love to explore. Here is an afternoon itinerary full of romance in the home of renaissance.
Wake up slow, have a café and greet the day! Make sure to have a fueling lunch al fresco - you will need it with all the walking this day will entail! Here we go:
The Duomo: Start with a visit to the Santa Maria del Fiore, aka Duomo. This is one of the most popular sites in Florence to visit and rightfully so. This green, pink and white marble structure is a Gothic masterpiece. I literally gasped when our cab leading us into the city, turned to face it. It is breath taking in every sense of the word. There will surely be a line to climb to the top of the monument, and if you should want to challenge yourself with all 463 steps, it is absolutely worth the wait. A few notes I can offer: if you have spacial issues, or suffer from claustrophobia this would be something to consider. At 720 years old, the Duomo was not constructed with the modern tourist droves in mind. You can expect tight spiral, stone staircases, narrow walk-ways, and as you reach the final paces of your accession, very steep steps. Again, all worth it! Tired and ready for open air, walking out onto the rounded terrace is SURREAL. The tattered red roof tops and rolling Tuscan hills in the distance are your reward for completing the trek. Bravo to you!
When you are on vacation, rarely are there any rules. Stop for dessert before dinner at Gelateria Edoardo (a gelataria that prides themselves on all organic and local options!) on your way out to your next destination, Ponte Vecchio!
Ponte Vecchio: The Ponte Vecchio is an iconic Firenze bridge that connects both sides of the city. This medieval stone, enclosed arch-bridge hovers over the Arno River and houses small boutiques of jewelers, art dealers and souvenir shops. Grab a couple of postcards, take a couple pictures over the water, enjoy the street performers along the way and continue on South towards your climactic sunset destination Piazzale Michelangelo. There is a lot of walking to do while exploring a city. Refreshing yourself by grabbing a glass of wine at Bevo Vino in the Piazzetta di San Miniato before making your climb up the stairs of Scale del Monte alle Croci......Onto sunset!
Piazzale Michelangelo: When we visited Florence last year, I knew before diving deep into the city that I was going to love it. Studying Renaissance Art in both high school and college, I was drooling over this place since the second I laid eyes on it. With the stunning Uffizzi Gallery having arguably the most important collection of the worlds most ground breaking masterpieces, this city knows a good thing when they see it. We found a whole new masterpiece at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale is much like an outdoor amphitheater inviting you to have a seat on one of its many stairs to enjoy the view. I have made it a point to seek many gorgeous sunsets in my life and I can truthfully say that in 26 years, this was my absolute favorite.
The rich rust colored roof tops cast deep shadows over the town. The golden glimmering Arno River cuts through the landscape. Clocktower bells ring in the distance reminding you that time is still passing even when it feels like it's standing still. The Duomo, bold and strong, governs over its beloved city. Ugh! I wish I could be there right now! It was a moment in time I will not soon forget. Every person should see this view and know this joy. It's a must!
Once you have come back down from heaven and your feet are firmly planted on the ground, make your way back to the North side of the city over the river. At this point you will have far passed your average "step count" for the day! When the sun goes down, the Italians eat! By now you will surely need it after all the exercise you have seen! For a mellow, no fuss, yet still epically romantic dinner head to All'Antico Vinaio. There may be a bit of a line peaking out of the small storefront, but it is WORTH IT. Build your own pannino to-go with all the best meats, veggies and fresh ingredients Toscana has to offer. Couple that with a bottle of wine, two plastic cups provided by All'Antico and finish the evening sitting along the stone walls in Piazza Del Signoria. The twilight above you, the trickling water of Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) bonding sweetly with the cellist sonata from a talent playing for tips. I can only hope your time is as idyllic as ours was. Savor your bites and sip your wine slowly - this is what life is ALL ABOUT. As you look up at the Palazzo Vecchio clock tower above you, you will notice that you have just enough time to get to Vivoli for one last scoop of Gelato before there close at Midnight. Don't miss out! Vivoli is said to be the best gelato in Florence, if not all of Italy. PRO TIP: At the intersection of Via del Proconsolo and Via Ghibellina there is (hopefully still there!) a random, stand-alone photobooth. Make memories in this one-off time capsule! Our photostrip is my most beloved souvenir of the whole trip!
At the end of a long afternoon we were proud of the distance we had walked, the heights we had climbed, the moments we let sink in hand in hand. I grew closer to my partner that day by letting this city take hold!
I hope I have painted a picture for you that is desirable! This, for me, was an afternoon that has made such an impression on my heart, on the way I view my moments with my partner, on the way I savor sunsets, on the way I think about life and love and simple joys. If you end up in Firenze, send all my love. I cannot wait to return!
Preserve Your Penny:
- Purchasing a bundle card could be a good option for a place like Florence with its 100's of museums and sites. See if the Firenze Card is a good investment for you during your stay!
- Though I believe it very important to experience a luxurious meal with a Florentine Steak, having a pannino in a piazza is a great way to fill up and save some dough.
- Our Airbnb in the heart of Florence was exceptional and cheap! Consider this route over a pricey boutique hotel!
- Eat where the Italians eat. Restauranteurs will try and lure you into their over priced, decent at best establishments, especially around the main attractions. Dig a little deeper - find a place where the patrons are speaking Italian and the menu is hard to read..... thats when you know it will be the better stuff!