Last week I shared some photos from our city-trip to Florence and today I talk more about how we explored the city. This is going to be a long post but you can save it (pin it) to read later.
Florence is such an amazing city. We truly felt in love with it. We were there in March 2015 which is in the off-season. The weather wasn't perfect (we had rain and it was cold in the evenings) but there were still so many tourists. On our last day we had 19°C and it felt like summer.
We always walked through the city and it was absolutely manageable. Like true Italians we made siesta after lunch. Most shops and restaurants close around 1pm anyway.
In every guidebook I read, that the locals always speak English with the tourists. My experience showed, that's not quite true. Because I can speak a little bit Italian I just replied in Italian and then they also started speaking Italian (which I mostly didn't understand). What I want to say, if you can speak Italian or want to practice, just speak Italian. You can always switch back to English if it won't work.
I traveled with my sister, so we were only two women and I have to say, we always felt safe. I'm not sure if we just stayed away from the dangerous places or if there aren't any.
For every city trip we always use the guidebooks from 100%travel and they are the best ever. They are written in German, but I still highly recommend them if you can't speak German. The main point about those guidebooks are the guided walks. There is a map you follow along and you cross some great restaurants, shops, sights and other great things. Each walk is about 3 hours long without the time counted you use for visiting the shops, restaurants and sights.
We stayed at the Hotel Home which is located at the edge of the center. We made our reservations in advance so we had an early bird discount. The hotel was okay. We had a huge room, we slept very well, the staff was always polite and breakfast was good. What we didn't like was that there were only attic windows. No normal windows. But this is probably just the case when you have the room on the top floor.
THE SIGHTS WE VISITED
When we prepared for this trip we read in every guidebook and on almost every webpage that you have to wait for hours in line before you can visit the most famous sights like the galleria degli uffizi, the galleria dell'accademia and Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo). My sister and I aren't really interested to stand in the line when we could explore the city instead. So we decided we visit those things where we don't have to wait. And I don't have a feeling like I missed anything.
Piazza della signoria: Here you can see some gigantic statues including a copy of the famous David from Michelangelo. The original stands in the galleria dell'accademia (which we didn't visit).
Basilica die Santa Maria Novella: The front is really beautiful. We didn't go inside because it was closed on the day we were there.
Santa Maria del Fiore (or just il Duomo): This is probably the most beautiful cathedral I've ever seen. Make sure that you walk around it but also go inside to have a look at the "duomo".
There are several different entries. One entrance is for the cathedral where you have free admission and where you can take great photos of the inside of the cupola.
We bought a ticket to climb up the Dome, the Bell Tower and to visit the Baptistry. It was €10. We got the ticket at the entrance to the Bell Tower.
You have to climb over 463 steps to go up to the top of the Dome and 414 steps to the Bell Tower. It's also very narrow.
But the view is totally worth it. (no, my sister is not holding a selfie stick in her hands, just an umbrella :) )
And don't forget to make a photo in front of the cathedral. For this photo I put the camera on the ground.
Basilica della Santissima Annunziata: It's a very special atmosphere in there. There weren't many tourists so it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
Mercato Centrale: This mercato is so awesome. It is huge and covered. Perfect when it rains. There are also many restaurants in there. Everything looks so delicious and you just want to eat everything. The website is also very cool.
Piazzale Michelangelo: You absolutely have to go up there. There is not only another copy of the famous David statue you also have the best view over the city. On our last evening we watched the sunset. It was perfect.
Giardino de Boboli: A huge beautiful garden where you can stay for hours. I highly recommend bringing something to eat so you can make a picnic. When you walk up to the highest point you have a great view over the city. Fun fact about the above photo: The person who is sitting on the park bench on the far right is my sister. She totally missed the great view. :)
And in the Giardino dei Boboli we found the perfect place to take a photo of us. Camera on the ground and behind us the Dome and the Bell Tower. This is right below the blue Kaffeehaus.
Ponte Vecchio: To stand on the bridge is not that special and full of people but you have to see it from the side.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Eating in Italy is like heaven. We ate very good and a lot (which is totally okay, because we also walked a lot). We always found a table for lunch but we had to make reservations in advance for dinner. We usually made them the day before.
click on the name of the restaurant to go to their webpage
Libreria Brac: Vegetarian and Vegan food. Special atmosphere because you are surrounded by books.
La Boulangerie: They serve some delicious baguettes.
Borgo Antico: I had a salad and my sister a pizza. Both were extremely good.
Enoteca Fuori Porta: So so good. We had a salad and one of their crostone.
5ecinque: They only offer vegetarian food but it was really good. The restaurant is very small (only about 10 tables) but the service was excellent. The waiter translated all the dishes and explained them to us.
Bevo Wino: Such a great wine bar. They also served bruschetta for free.
Il Santo Bevitore: We went there twice. Very good food and it's very peaceful in there.
La Beppa Fioraia: We ate really good there. Especially the Antipasti plates. But it was extremely loud in there so we didn't stay very long.
4 Leoni: We had a great dinner but it was also a little bit louder in there.
And we had the best ice-cream at the Gelateria La Strega Nocciola.
I didn't buy a lot on this trip but I want to highlight four great shops.
click on the underlined names to go to their webpages
DolceForte: A cute shop with lots and lots of different chocolate variations.
Junko Mukai Original Watercolor: If you want to buy some really amazing paintings you have to visit this tiny store.
La Confetteria Firenze: Perfect small gifts to bring back home.
CLET: Around the city you can see some special traffic signs made by Clet and in his shop which is also his studio you can buy his art. I got two magnets and two postcards.
If you read through the whole thing, congratulations. If there is a place in Florence you highly recommend to visit, leave a comment. I will definitely go to Florence again and new recommendations are welcome.