Donatello’s David. Brunelleschi’s Duomo. Dante’s Legacy. The Medici Influence. Florence is a beautiful city with a worldwide reputation for its art, history and political influence. Ranked as one of the top countries to visit time after time, Florence is the perfect destination for anyone seeking adventure, breathtaking views and an insight into a culture who’s kind, passionate and hospitable.
WHERE TO STAY:
If you are traveling with a significant other, this place is perfect. If you’re traveling with friends or solo, this place is still perfect. With beautiful Tuscan views and gardens, it’s hard to believe that they are located just 3 miles (5 km) from Palazzo Vecchio. Not only does Villa Agape provide you the most delicious breakfast buffet every morning but they also have a shuttle at your disposal from 9am-9pm, which makes getting to the center of everything that much easier (they’ll pick you up too!).
Hotel Torre Guelfa
If you’re looking for a spot right in the middle of Florence, this Hotel is centrally located and about a 1-15 minute walk to every major landmark Florence is known for. Torre Guelfa, unlike most hotels, has a unique feature that any traveler is dying for- the perfect view of Florence. Being one of the highest hotels in the city, the last two floors of the tower are a bar/patio which any guest can climb atop and sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful sunrise or sunset (and everything in between!). The hotel has an elevator, but the last 72 winding steps to the top will have to be done in order to see the beautiful view!
WHERE TO EAT:
Honestly, we didn’t have a single bad meal in Florence. We literally ate pizza and or pasta for lunch and dinner every day and loved it all. Naturally, some places stuck out more than others so here are our top 3 recommendations:
I Bastioni di San Niccolò
BEST. PIZZA. EVER. Seriously. We stumbled upon this gem on our second night and though we love a good pizza, I don’t think either of us realized how incredible the pizza was until this night. First off, the cheese was just like you see in the commercials. You cut your slice, you pull it up and the cheese has that great action shot of being just that- cheesy. Then, the perfectly sized crust and fresh toppings are out of this world. Allie grew up eating calabrese salami and theirs was just out of this world. We loved this place so much that on our last night, after dinner elsewhere, we returned here for a second dinner as we said our hardest goodbye of the trip. Don’t forget to order some bruschetta for an appetizer, a spritzer for drink and some tiramisu for dessert!
Ps. Sit outside. It’s the cherry on top to an unforgettable meal!
On our first blog, The Perks of Traveling, we mentioned how talking to locals is probably the best decision you’ll make while traveling and Gusta Pizza is an example of why. Our first day in Florence, we were waiting to watch the sunset from Piazalle Michelangelo (Shout-out Phillip Graham for the recommendation!) when we met two ladies who told us we had to check out Gusta Pizza. We went the following day and the pizza was great! It’s a place most people pick up pizza from, so be prepared for a long line (it goes fast), a short menu and a limited amount of seats. Most people bring their own wine and cups, grab the pizza and go eat outside on the steps of a near by church where they can people watch (but you can also ask for a cup of wine to go here).
Trattoria Ponte Vecchio
Family operated like most of the restaurants in Florence, Trattoria Ponte Vecchio is located on the East side of the Rio Arno, about 100 yards (100 meters) from the famous Ponte Vecchio. This cozy restaurant is a great choice for a nicer, sit down, no rush meal. We, as always, ordered bruschetta for anti-pasta, accompanied by Chianti, and we each ordered a hand made pasta. It was the first time in our lives that we had pasta dough from scratch and it was divine! This night we also discovered zuccotto- an Italian dessert is often overshadowed by cannoli & gelatos from tourists. In all honesty, after having the much praised cannoli and gelato, the zuccotto was better by far! Don’t get us wrong, we loved the other two, but we’re SO glad we ventured out from the stereotypical go to Italian desserts!
Florence is one of a kind. There are many wonderful hotels & restaurants to choose from & most are independently owned, which is the best part! We encourage you to explore new places, but if you need some help, we highly recommend any of the above. Stay tuned for next week for Part II of this blog series as we talk about things to do in Florence!