Ah, Firenze. I’ve visited this infamous city 5 times now, and each and every trip has been completely different. From first visiting with my family when I was a teenager and falling in love with the city, to coming with a large group of friends for a whirlwind trip, and most recently with J where a full day was plenty. I now feel life I’ve seen (almost) everything the city has to offer. If I ever find myself back in Firenze, I’ll be sure to follow this one day plan. Here’s how to spend a day trip in Florence, Italy.
Early Morning: Visit The Academia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s Statue of David
If you haven’t yet seen it, the first stop should be to gaze upon Michelangelo’s masterpieces at the The Academia Gallery. Getting there bright and early will ensure you seem them without the crowds and claustrophobia. Apart from the arguably the most famous chunk (hunk?) of marble in the world, my favourite aspect of the gallery are actually the unfinished pieces. To me, these seem alive, as if the figure is straining with all it’s might to become free of the stone slab. Somehow, they have even more life than the finished pieces.
Up next, be sure to visit the San Lorenzo Leather Market. My favourite finds were buttery soft lamb leather gloves in a rainbow of colours, of which I picked up in a pale pink.
Lunch: Duck into the adjacent Mercato Centrale, and make your way to the top floor. This newly renovated food market boasts gourmet stalls ranging from fresh seafood to made-to-order pastas, complete with a man pushing around a buffalo mozzarella cart (do it).
A visit to Florence is incomplete without a pit-stop to the famous Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.
Most tourists head to the Duomo and climb the impossibly tight staircase to the top in order to see a panoramic view of all of Florence. However, I much prefer having a view with the Duomo in it itself.
So instead, head to the Palazzo Vecchio, where you can climb the Tower’s much more pleasant stairs.
You’ll be afforded this breathtaking view:
Post-climb, you’re sure to need a carb & chianti fuelled refill.
Snack: Get the truffle sandwich + a glass of local chianti at this institution Il Bufalo Trippone:
Treat: End off on a sweet note with some of the best gelato in town. Make your way across the Fiume Arno river to the southern side.
Right off the Ponte alla Carraia (second bridge west of Ponte Vecchio, on the Oltrarno side), the gelato found at Gelateria La Carraia is super creamy and flavourful. Another great, if more modern option, is Cantina del Gelato nearby. My only caveat is that the gelato isn’t displayed, and I definitely tend to eat with my eyes.
After exploring the lesser-known side of Florence, switch back over to the main side to stroll along the main shopping promenade.
Dinner: Antica Macelleria Falorni
Head a bit off the the beaten track to a much more residential and a little bohemian neighbourhood to find this gem. Not for the vegetarians in the crowd, this simply yet beautifully designed resto boasts some of the best lasagna we’ve ever had (which you can also get as “take-away” i.e. to go, if you’ve got a train to catch).
Night cap: Finish off your splendid day with a a digestif at Grand Hotel Minerva in Santa Maria Novella Square. Or, try to find an event that’s on (for us it was the Chocolate Festival).
Bonus: If you find you’ve still got time to kill (or just don’t feel like eating so much, as I had suggested), try checking out these spots:
–Piazzale Michelangelo : if you don’t mind some crowds, be sure to stop at this amazing spot overlooking the entire City. I have a picture of myself at the very exact spot taken when I was 14, 18, and 24, and so I’m quite fond of it!