Week-end trip to Italy 1/3 - Beautiful Florence

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Lisa & Pol
by Lisa & Pol
This post is linked to the following video :
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Florence in February - Travel guide and hidden gems [2024]

Filmed on : February 11th, 2023

Filmed in : Florence, Italy

Hostel Plus FlorenceMercato CentraleCattedrale di Santa Maria del FiorePonte VecchioGiardino BardiniThe hole in the wallAccademia GalleryArt Rooftop Cocktail Bar

Florence, or Firenze in Italian, is a city that needs no introduction. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Italy, it's a place where history, culture, and art come together to create a unique and unforgettable experience. From the stunning architecture to the delicious food and wine, there's something for everyone in this beautiful city. And that is why, I have chosen this destination as gift for Pol for Xmas. And also, the flight tickets from Pisa to Paris were insanely cheap!

Florence rooftop view
Florence rooftop view

That's right! First we flew to Pisa where we grabbed a quick dinner (understand shared a pizza) and from there we took a train to Florence (1h30). We planned it this way, because we had only 3 nights available for this trip and we figured that Florence was going to be the one city where we would want to spend the most time. And oh boy, we were right!

Cool places in Florence : La Ménagère chic bistro selling gifts & flowers alongside creative cocktails & elevated cafe fare.
Cool places in Florence : La Ménagère chic bistro selling gifts & flowers alongside creative cocktails & elevated cafe fare.

After a good night in this hostel, which was clean, quite well situated, but mostly THE CHEAPEST option in town. We started our day in Florence by having breakfast in Mercato Centrale. The place has a very authentic atmosphere, locals are buying fresh products for the day and if you are lucky you might even see Italian romance play out right in front of you, like we did. In our case, it was a local butcher passionately expressing his love for our pastry lady, who was absolutely not shy towards his love expressions and screamed at him Amoooore!

Start of the day in Florence: morning Mercato Central
Start of the day in Florence: morning Mercato Central

One of the first things you'll notice when arriving in Florence is the stunning architecture. The city is home to countless historic buildings, including the iconic Duomo di Firenze, which we visited next. 

iconic Florence : Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
iconic Florence : Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

We came in the morning, around 10 am, and it was a magical moment we won’t ever forget!  The monument was beautifully lit up by the soft morning sun and it absolutely took our breath away!  The cathedral is famous for its impressive dome, which was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and remains one of the largest in the world. Visitors can climb to the top for an incredible panoramic view of the city, but of course be prepared to spend some time in the line. We visited Florence in the winter time and so apparently in off season, if such a thing exists for Florence, but the popular sites still had many tourists in line, so we can’t imagine how crowded it must be during the peak season.

Florence sight number one : Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence sight number one : Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Since we had just one day in Florence and we were lucky with the perfect weather, we decided to spend as much time as possible outdoors.

From Duomo we walked to Piazza della Repubblica, and towards the riverside. Pol - who didn't plan anything for this trip - was pleasantly surprised to discover that Florence has a river, and let me tell you the riverside of Florence is definitely not to be missed! The Arno River runs through the city, and the riverbank is lined with charming buildings, cafes, and restaurants. One of the most iconic landmarks along the river is the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge that has been standing since the 14th century.

Florence river side
Florence river side

Walking along the riverbank is a wonderful way to experience the city from a different perspective. You'll see locals jogging or biking along the path, couples enjoying a romantic stroll, and artists capturing the stunning views in their paintings. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can sit outside and enjoy a meal or a drink while watching the river flow by. Great spot for a drink and a beautiful sight directly on the Unesco Heritage bridge is this little hidden gem: Hotel Lungarno’s terrace.

best view on Ponte Vecchio: Hidden spot / Hotel Lungarno’s terrace.
best view on Ponte Vecchio: Hidden spot / Hotel Lungarno’s terrace.

Once you get hungry there are multiple great choices for lunch. When it comes to food, Florence is a paradise. The city is famous for its cuisine, which includes dishes like ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup, and bistecca alla Fiorentina, a massive T-bone steak cooked to perfection. Be sure to try some of the local wines, too, like Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. 

Local shop in Florence
Local shop in Florence

Keeping our outdoors vibe, we decided to sit outside of this small sandwich place that had only two seats outside.The place is called La Fettunta, and honestly it was our second choice, because we had originally planned to try the best rated sandwiches in the town from La Fettunta neighbour's All’Antico Vinaio. We were probably 100 to have the same idea for lunch, as there was a long queue in front of this place. Hard to say if people in line were only tourists but most of them where taking a picture of their sandwich that's for sure. If you are someone who can wait hours for food, you'll probably get a great bite there. For us however, we become aggressive on empty stomachs so La Fettunta was a great option!

Kiss with a statue in Bardini gardens, Florence
Kiss with a statue in Bardini gardens, Florence

After lunch, it was time to explore the other side of the river so we crossed the Ponte alle Grazie, and climbed up to the Giardino Bardini or Bardini gardens. This place was almost completely empty, a great contrast with the narrow streets of the center. Located on a hillside overlooking the city, the Giardino Bardini offers breathtaking views of Florence and its surrounding hills.

the Giardino Bardini best views of Florence
the Giardino Bardini best views of Florence

The gardens were once the private estate of Stefano Bardini, a wealthy art collector who amassed a large collection of art and antiquities. Today, the gardens are open to the public, although you will have to pay a 6e entrance fee to enjoy this peaceful oasis away from the crowds of the city. You will find a mix of formal Italian gardens, wilder woodland areas, and even a small orchard. There are numerous paths and walkways winding throughout the gardens, each offering its own unique views and surprises. According to the pictures that I found on the internet, they are especially worth visiting during the spring!

One of the highlights of the gardens is the Baroque stairway, which leads up to a terrace that provides stunning panoramic views of Florence. There's also a small cafe where you can relax and enjoy an espresso or a snack while taking in the beautiful surroundings. We had an unique experience as the day of our visit there were 2 fighter jets flying above our heads for a good 40 minutes and the gardens were a perfect spot to watch them! At first, we were a bit suspicious, since we didn’t know what was going on but later it turned out they were just preparing for an acrobatic show for the next day.

hidden gem of Florence: wine bar with a small window
hidden gem of Florence: wine bar with a small window

Just when we were getting thirsty from all the walking around the city, we found the most amazing spot in Florence! It must be a pretty well kept secret of Florence, but we are going to share it with you, as it was easily one of the coolest spots we have discovered in the city during our short stay.

The place is called Babae and on the first sight it might look like nothing special. Only if you pay a little bit more attention, you can spot a small window and that's where the magic happens 😀 Here you can order wine to-go. This window is called "Vino da strada" which translates to "street wine". It's amazing, as it allows you to enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the city's lively atmosphere. We decided to just turn around the corner and sunbathe on this cute street, while sipping our Vino Rosso.

cutest street of Florence
cutest street of Florence

After gathering our last bits of energy - at this point we had been out in the streets of Florence for more than 6 hours - we walked back to the other side of the river, to the Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo's David. 

Michelangelo's David in the Accademia Gallery of Florence (Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze) in Florence
Michelangelo's David in the Accademia Gallery of Florence (Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze) in Florence

You've probably seen pictures of this famous statue before, but seeing it in person is truly breathtaking.  It's occupying the center of the museum and you really get to see it from many angles.

David stands at a height of over 17 feet and is made entirely out of marble. It's a masterpiece of Renaissance art, and it's amazing to think that Michelangelo sculpted it when he was in his early twenties! The statue depicts David, the biblical hero who defeated the giant Goliath, and it's considered a symbol of strength and courage.

Seeing David up close is an unforgettable experience. The statue is incredibly detailed, and you can see every muscle and vein in David's body. It's no wonder that it's one of the most famous sculptures in the world.

After an amazing day in Florence we decided to end the day with a view.

View on Art Rooftop Cocktail Bar was a spontaneous choice after we quickly googled “rooftop with a view florence”. The view did not disappoint. The prices of the drinks were a bit pricey for what it was (11-12e for aperol spritz), but we were so happy about the view and about our day well spent in Florence that we really didn’t care.

Kisses from Florence, Italy
Kisses from Florence, Italy

In conclusion, Florence is a city that truly has it all. Whether you're a history buff, an art lover, a foodie, or simply looking for a beautiful place to relax, you won't be disappointed. So book your trip today and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Lisa & Pol
Lisa & Pol
We're a Slovak-French couple in our twenties currently backpacking across Africa for a year. One of our goals is to inspire travellers to go explore this often forgotten continent. On this blog we're focusing on providing up to date info about prices and itineraries, especially geared towards backpackers on a budget. We also create content on Youtube and Insta if you prefer a more visual approach 😉
Categories : Italy
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