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Florence

To do in Florence

This city is as amazing this time around as before. The first time I came, I spent 5 days exploring every inch of Florence. This time, I’ve spent time getting to feel a little like a local. There are a few basic things that everyone must do on a trip to Florence. Particularly a first trip. Once you return, you can loosen up a bit. But for the maiden voyage, here are some things you MUST do:

  1. EAT!!! It’s Italy, but more specifically, it’s Florence. Most of these are pretty obvious, but….. humor me. Pasta in this region is absolutely amazing. Some of my favorites are lasagna and pappardelle. I’ve had both at a variety of restaurants in Florence and I’ve never been disappointed. Gelato had to make the list as well. Available throughout Italy, but particularly special in Firenze. Pizza, crostini and cannoli round out the list.
  2.  Art! There is no shortage of breathtaking art in Florence. The city itself could pass for a big outdoor museum. The Uffizi Gallery is a must; one should also visit Palazzo Pitti, Galleria dell’Accademia as well. Again, the city is full of outdoor sculptures and various other works of art. And we can’t forget about fashion. There’s also the Gucci museum that includes a café, gift shop and bookstore. Florence is an art lover’s dream.
  3. Shop! It would be hard to decide what was better in Florence between shopping, art and food! If shopping is your thing, you’ve come to the right place. In the city, there are many boutiques selling any variety of goods. But Florence is well known for the leather. So you will see it in all forms: jackets, bags, luggage, small leather goods, gloves, etc. I’ve never seen more exquisite gloves than in the little glove shops in Florence. Madova Gloves is a must. For souvenirs, there are plenty of stationary, ceramics and glass shops or stalls at the outdoor markets.
  4. Must See Sights! The Piazza del Duomo is a spectacular sight to see. One of the moments I’ll never forget walking through the streets of Florence and getting my first ever glimpse of the Duomo. I literally gasped! The sight of it up close is so beautiful and overwhelming. It kind of just appears….and all of a sudden you’re standing in front of this fascinating structure. And even though I’ve seen it many times, it’s as incredible each time. Ponte Vecchio is a bridge; but it’s not just any bridge. This is an iconic landmark. There’s so much history there and being on the bridge feels like you’re stepping back in time. Piazza del Signoria is another square that must be seen.

Eating My Way Through Florence

Florence owes me NOTHING in the food department. I literally ate my way through this beautiful city. I’d say its impossible to come here and not fall in love. There’s so much to offer everyone, from the arts to the char of the city to the historic sights. But the food…..the food deserved it’s own little blog dedicated to showing extra appreciation to the top 5 culinary experiences I had in Florence:

  1. La Giostra would go down as one of my top 5 restaurants in the world. It’s such an experience from the moment you walk in the door. The staff is super attentive and they cater to your every need. In fact, there were so many occasions that they brought us things to try and sample in addition to the food we ordered. La Giostra serves traditional Italian food, but better than most places and when you combine that with the ambiance, service and wine…it’s a perfect experience.
  2. Natalino was a great family owned trattoria. Recommended by a local I’d met earlier in the day, I’m glad I followed through. The service here was great and it was interesting watching the various family members filling their respective rolls. I had lasagna and rose. I must say, I’ve never had better lasagna than in Florence.
  3. Parione is also a true trattoria, but a little fancier than your average place. A lot of business dinners going on around us. Bottles of wine flowing, delicious food and great staff. This is a family restaurant with a local feel. Great pasta and can’t forget the bread!
  4. Mercado Centrale was a very unique dining experience. It reminded me of Mercado Roma in Mexico City. I’m beginning to notice these types of restaurants popping up in multiple places; they’re gourmet food halls will various food stalls selling different types of cuisines. Think, modern day, upscale food court. Mercado Centrale had a large selection of food choices from cheese shops, to wine bars to pizza, seafood, pasta, cooking classes, Eataly, etc.
  5. Locale is a restaurant and bar, but my experience here is limited to the bar. From the moment you walk in, you’re transported to another place. It’s modern, trendy and chic. It feels more like it belongs in L.A., NYC, Paris or Sydney. It doesn’t give you Florence vibes but it’s right. The music is super cool….a mix of funk and soul music. The mixologists take great pride in their concoctions. The drinks I had were all very different and unlike other drinks I’d had before. They also had a super cool cellar that is worth checking out too!

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