Pack Your Bags: Florence, Italy



Its probably been said on this blog
{one too many times}
how much I love the city of Florence.

For a long time, it was a city that captured my heart
and had me constantly dreaming of return.

I studied there in college,
returned for summers to visit my college boyfriend, 
and eventually, 
all of that time spent during my young adulthood, 
endeared me to Florence in a way
that is still difficult to articulate.

I didn't know I could feel that way about another place
until we moved to Oxford.

While there are some smaller, 
more local places that I never miss when I'm in Florence,
(or in the surrounding suburb of Scandicci
where I escape to spend quieter time with local friends)
the places I want to share with you now
are spots in downtown Florence
that are guaranteed to make 
your first or second visit really special.


To Do:



          In between the train station (Santa Maria Novella)
and the famous Duomo of Florence,
this sprawling market is a must for visitors.

Pick up your leather goods,your souvenir t-shirts,
any type of scarf imaginable,
or a slew of (completely decent) silk ties for a couple of euro a piece.

It's more than okay to haggle here...
in fact, it's expected when you buy multiples of anything
or higher ticket items like leather bags.

***

In a large piazza in the market,
is a large building, The Central Market,
which is a really good food market
that can quickly endanger your limited suitcase space.


Gorgeous olive oils, spices, pasta mixes, truffle spreads, chianti wines
are all there waiting for you.


There are small stalls in here that give locals & tourist alike
an affordable- and delicious- option for lunch.

Look for the stands where old Italian men linger
around nearby tables with small tumblers of wine...
it's a tell-tale sign that the food is good.





                            Go here for sunset for the most stunning view of Florence
setting in the valley of the Arno.




Either hike the walk, 
take a bus (which can be a bit complicated),
or splurge for the taxi up to this famous look out.



Regardless of how you arrive there,
when you see the amazing view before you...
you'll be glad you did.




The Accademia

Go see (one of) the massive masterpieces of Michelangelo, David, here.

Lines can get pretty terrible in summer months,
so save the trouble and book online.

You'll be glad you saved your time for sitting in a cafe
instead of along the crowded street in the hot sun.


Climb the Duomo

Yes, it's a haul to climb all the 463 steps 
up to the "cupola" of Florence's landmark church...
but when you see the city of Florence
sitting in the gorgeous Tuscan valley
in the glow of the late afternoon sun
{yes, you should go in the late afternoon}...
you'll know why this lethargic lump of a woman
would ever recommend such an outing for you.

{FYI: The last time I climbed, it was  €8.00. More info here.}



To Eat:


                             Trattoria ZaZa


Read more about this popular eatery
specializing in Tuscan cuisine
and perfectly situated in the San Lorenzo Market here.

Recommended dishes: 
the bruschetta, the ribollita 
& anything with truffle that you see on their menu.
  



Dinner reservations recommended.





Some people love it.
Some people think it's overrated.
Regardless, you can't argue that gelato is delicious.
I happen to fall in the camp that loves GROM.
like peach, raspberry & sicilian orange win me over.

Though to be fair,
it's now a rapidly growing chain
that even has locations in Manhattan.





This place is special to me.

I've spent many epic nights here...
along with way too much of my money.

But it's always worth it.

The four cheese ravioli introduced me to the truffle 
long before I even knew of it's existence.

I didn't know what the flavor was,
but could only explain it as "an explosion of magic in my mouth."

{Editor's Note: Maybe I wasn't the most articulate 19 year old.}

I've been back countless times since and seen the restaurant evolve
into a favorite of tourists and locals alike.

for the best view of the Ponte Vecchio in town.





This cafe is a gem.

It's discreetly tucked at the top of the busy department store, 
La Rinascente, located in Piazza Repubblica.

Up, up, up you go in the store
all the way to the home section at the top.

When you get there, 
go up the stairs into the cafe...
then up the small set of stairs onto the balcony.

Pay too much for a cup of coffee 
and enjoy a magnificent view of the cupola of il duomo.





While locating this legendary gelateriawas the catalyst for a near-divorce 
between Tyler & I,
it's hard to say that it wasn't worth the trouble.

The gelato really is fantastic
and if you can put up with crowds of people,
a great place to try Florence's "best gelato."



Owned by the famous Ferragamo family
(yes, that Ferragamo)
this swanky boutique hotelsits pristintely adjacent to the Ponte Vecchio.

If you can't splurge on staying in their apartment style hotel,
and pretend you are living the fabulous life.

{Which, if you've found yourself in Florence, is not really pretending.)










For 12 euro, you'll get a fancy cocktail
followed by well-manicured antipasti 
such as crab cakes and bite-sized cured meats.






To Stay:


Medium: AirBNB apartment rentals. {Seriously, I'm a fan.}

Budget: Avanti Italia
Ok, so this is an out of the normal option, 
but it's so affordable and helps out an awesome ministry.

At only $15 per person per night, it's a pretty decent option.

It's about a 20 minute bus ride out of the center of town, 
but it's actually really simple to get in & out of the downtown to Avanti.

I've stayed there countless times when visiting Florence with a small budget.

***

Florence is an amazing city
that captures my heart every time I visit...
and I know that I'm not alone.

What are some places and things 
that have enchanted you while visiting Florence?


Was there a special place that made your trip to Florence special?
Post it below so the rest of us can make sure to hit up the fun!



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy & Liz Denfeld


Posted on March 8, 2013 and filed under "Italy", "Jet Setting", "florence", "travel tips", "travel".