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What to Do & See in Florence, Italy - Wanderlist

Let’s go to: Florence, Italy

The city with everything you could ask for - be prepared to spend hours mesmerized by renaissance paintings and eating and drinking Italian food & wine.

USEFUL INFORMATION

  • Language: Italian
  • Currency: Euro
  • Tipping: Not necessary
  • Transportation: walk around the city
  • All museums are closed on Mondays

WHAT TO DO & SEE

  • Spend at least 2 hours at the Galleria degli Uffizi admiring the renaissance art
    • Busiest building in the entire city
  • Watch the sun set over the city on the steps of Piazza Michelangelo with a bottle of wine and enjoy the lively environment
  • Admire the outside of the Duomo or walk the 463 steps to the top for an amazing view of Florence
  • Climb the Campanile di Giotto, 82 meter bell tower next to the Duomo for a view of Florence from above
  • Enjoy gelato with a view of the Ponte Vecchio
  • Dine on the upper floor of the Mercato Centrale
  • Escape to the Tuscan countryside and go on a wine tour
  • Take a cooking class
  • Go see the real statue of David at Galleria dell’Accademia
    • 10 euros - Book ticket in advance to avoid long lines
  • Marvel at Palazzo Pitti and stroll through Bobali Gardens
    • 20 euros
  • Stroll along Arno at night and people watch at night perched on a bridge over the river
  • Check out Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio and see if you can spot the difference between the real statue of David and the replica outside
  • Museo Salvatore Ferragamo
    • Home to more than 10,000 privately commissioned shoes, must-visit for any footwear fanatic
  • San Miniato al Monte, church built on the highest point in the city

WHAT TO EAT

  • ZaZa - try: the ravioli with Truffle Oil
  • Gelatoria La Carraria - the best (and cheapest) gelato I’ve had in Italy
  • Trattoria L’Oriuolo
  • Ossetia Vini e Vecchi Sapori
  • Mercato Centrale in San Lorenzo - open daily until 2 pm
  • Have a coffee at the Gucci cafe

WHERE TO SHOP

Florence is known for leather goods from shoes, purses, gloves, wallets, cardholders, gloves and journals. Other things Florence is known for consists of scarves, paper, Chianti wine and olive oil.

  • Scuola del Cuoi → for purses + monogram for anything purchased
  • Officina Profuma Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (Via della Scala 16) → oldest pharmacies where herbal essences and perfumes prepared
  • Il Papiro → beautiful collection of journals and stationery (Piazza Del Duomo 24/r)
  • Signum → leather-bound journals (Borgo degli Albizi 54/r)
  • Scriptorium (Via del Servi 5/r) → specialies in handmade books, inks, calligraphy
  • The Leather School - Scuola → inside old church; upper end leather
  • Flavio Pelletterie store - leather
  • Roberta’s (Borgo S. Jacapo 78r) → leather gloves

Markets

  • Mercato di San Lorenzo → central street market with leather goods but on lower end
    • Open from 9am to 7pm from Tuesday to Saturday
  • Mercato delle Pulci
  • Porcellino Market
    • Open daily
    • 5 euro scarves, bags, purses and keychains
  • Flower market in Piazza della Repubblica every Thursday (stops in August)
  • Mercato Nuovo → mid-range leather goods with variable price and quality

Streets

  • Via de’ Tornabuoni → most famous street in Florence
  • Via del Corso → many small boutiques
  • Piero Puliti specializes in men’s shirts and ties made from finest Italian materials and designed by Piero exclusively for this shop

TIPS

  • Haggle over the price in markets
  • Here are a couple of steps for leather inspection:
    • Smell the leather
    • Firetest
    • Inspect quality of stitching
    • Open bags and inspect the lining → lower end products lined with polyester and best bags lined with silk or leather
    • Leather should feel soft and supple
    • Look for Made in Italy tag, not Italian Leather

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Capital city of the region Tuscany
  • ⅓ of the world’s art treasures reside in Florence
  • Home to the infamous Medici family
  • Funded the Renaissance
  • Giovanni di Micci de’Medici born into poor family
  • Founded Medici Bank in 1397, most successful bank in Florence  
  • At time of death, he was the richest man in Florence (180,000 Gold Florins or 36M USD)
  • Cosimo the Elder took over the family bank in 1434 and became the Gran Maestro of Florence. He expanded the bank rapidly and managed the wealth of European’s greatest families. Cosimo is known today as the godfather of the Renaissance
  • Richest family in Europe
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machievelli, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci, Donatello, Raffaele, Roberto Cavalli, Guccio Gucci was founded in Florence
  • How do the Italians really eat pasta?  The correct technique involves piercing some pasta near the edge of the bowl, not in the center but at the twelve o'clock position, then twirling the pasta around the fork against the rim of the bowl.
  • Florence Nightingale was famous for revolutionizing nursing
  • Best known for leather and gold

LOCAL SPECIALTIES

  • Bistecca alla Fiorentina, mammoth chargilled t-bone steak
  • Panzanella: Italian bread that is at least a day or two old blended with fresh tomatoes and basil, then soaked in vinegar and oil  
  • Pappa al Pomodoro: soup enjoyed during the colder months made of tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic, and sea salt
  • Pasta e Fagioli: hearty, traditional bean and tomato-based soup
  • Chianti Wine
  • Olive Oil

LIST BY: CAROLYN CHEN

Carolyn Chen has done two backpacking trips around Europe and spent six months studying abroad in Italy. She loves finding the most beautiful scenery, hidden gems and indulging in great food. Find more posts by Carolyn here.

Follow her adventures on Instagram: @carolynjxchen

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