I had lived in London for a little more than a year and a half before I made my first visit to Italy. It took me too long to get there, but now that I have finally experienced it I couldn’t be more hooked. I had envisioned picturesque vineyards and rolling hills and a proper full plate of pasta, I was not disappointed. I fully appreciate that when it comes to travelling to places full of things to see, it can feel overwhelming and daunting. You want to NOT MISS A THING in the few weeks, days or hours you have to experience them. I understand this, because I am the exact same way. In this spirit I am going to share with you how I dove into the deep end of Florence and made the most of my days there.
Making the Most of Florence
1. Do your research
It’s amazing what you can find on the internet these days (skip over the fact that I sound a bit like a grandma writing that sentence). My research of all things Florence led me to have an understanding of what to expect (like a long wait for Michelangelo’s David unless you book ahead) and provided me with an approach that was ‘less travelling’ and ‘more exploring’.
(Side note, this David is a replica outside, not the real thing)
2. Cosy up to a stranger
I can’t say enough about my fabulous Firenze guide. I met Frannie at a mutual friend’s wedding and when she invited me to visit her during her semester abroad I happily accepted. We shared our dreams and passions over platefuls of truffle gnocchi and quickly became bosom buddies. Her knowledge of the city was what brought it to life for me. Now this may not always be an option for other travelers out there, but if you’re lucky enough to get an invitation to visit a friend or even acquaintance in a foreign place I would always recommend saying ‘yes’.
3. Rest is for the cafes
Florence is on the smaller side, meaning it is rather easy to get around walking. But that doesn’t mean you won’t grow weary of bopping around the historical streets. Although it’s never a bad idea to take a quick 30-minute nap in your hotel I highly recommend putting your feet up nearer to the action any place where you can get a lovely coffee or a creamy gelato while still enjoying some warm sunshine in the process. Seriously, why miss out on the Italian action? You can find several recommendations in a future post of where we rested in the hustle and bustle of it all.
4. Go for the art
Michelangelo’s David is in Florence and so is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. But these are both just the tip of the iceberg. Not only did we see some of the fabulous classics, we also found some travelling exhibits well worth the visit. Because Florence is filled with so many fabulous pieces this is where research really comes in handy. (Make sure you check back for my future post on recommendations of sites which helped me decide what I truly wanted to see. Spoiler alert: All things Botticelli.)
5. Not all pasta is created equal
Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many, many places to find absolutely delicious meals in Florence. But if you’re limited to a few days that means a finite amount of breakfasts, lunches and dinners which should not be wasted. My fabulous guide led our appetites to some of the very best in Florence, at very reasonable prices. From the creamiest gelato to the heart-shaped pizza to the most superb cappuccino to the mouthwatering blueberry steak, Florence has it all. And I’ve done my research!
6. Just relax
My favourite memories of Florence are the still ones. The ones where Florence was alive around me and under me and I could just watch it unfold. I may have power walked my way through a maze of streets but from one piazza to the other I just tried to soak it in. So if you get the chance to go, just take some moments to relax and be there.
If you’re headed to Florence soon, check out a few favorite spots.
Originally published April 29, 2016