Believe it or not, it has been 4 years since I last rounded up my Florence favorites! So, I think it is about time I reassess and share my favorite places, restaurants, sites, and experiences!
Favorite Museum – Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti remains my favorite museum in Florence. Yes, the Uffizi and Accademia (the David) are must-sees, but they are also crowded and overwhelming. The Palazzo Pitti has an equally amazing collection of famous paintings and sculptures, their collection of Raphael’s is my favorite, but with less people and spread over a larger space. Plus, unlike a museum, the paintings are arranged as they would have been in the home of a noble/princely family — in large groupings and in no chronological or stylistic order. It is neat to see the art in a more natural setting.
Favorite Experience – Duomo Climbing
The dome of “il duomo” (the cathedral) is emblematic to the city of Florence and no visit to Florence is complete without climbing this marvel of engineering. The Opera del Duomo (the organization that oversees the maintenance and sites connected to the cathedral) recently started requiring reservations to climb. While this improves the climbing experience, it can be a bit confusing. If you are only in Florence for a short time, be sure to pre-book this online or when you first arrive to Florence. Spots to climb sell out days in advance!
Favorite Tour – Palazzo Vecchio Secret Passageways Tour
This tour is not only fun, especially for kids, it is also very informative! But you must pre-book this online or in person at the ticket office in the Palazzo Vecchio (more fun and unique things to do in Florence/Tuscany here).
Favorite Meal – Truffle Gnocchi
Hands down my favorite meal in Florence is the cheesy, baked truffle gnocchi from Osteria Santo Spirito. This place has been discovered my tourists recently, so they are a bit slammed. If you go for an early lunch you are likely to get a table. You can also call between 1 – 5 pm to book a table.
Favorite Gelato – Cantina/My Sugar
This one is a bit of a tie. I am obsessed with the Nutella and Marscapone and Marscapone and fig gelato at Cantina, but I also love the stracciatella at My Sugar. I guess you will just have to try both!
Favorite Square – Santo Spirito
This square is across the river in the hip Oltrarno neighborhood. It has lots of great outdoor eating, flee and fresh markets during the day, and is always bustling at night.
Favorite Coffee – Gilli
If I am being honest, Gilli is my second favorite. But I was sad to discover that my all-time favorite place, Giacosa, was closed this summer! Hopefully it is just for a remodel and not permanent. But don’t worry, the grand and historic Cafe Gilli is a close second.
Favorite Brunch – Ditta Artiginale
Italians don’t really do breakfast, fortunately, many have jumped on the brunch train.
Favorite Aperitivo – Gallery
I love this aperitivo for one simple reason, they always have a ton of tasty veggies, which are always a welcome sight after days of pasta, pasta, pasta! You can read more about aperitivi in Florence here.
Favorite Pizza – Simbiosi
Simbosi has a restaurant and pizzeria. Both are organic and locally sourced. I am obsessed with their zucchini and pesto pizza!
Favorite View – San Miniato al Monte
Most people will tell you that Piazzale Michelangelo is the best view of Florence. While it is gorgeous, if you head just a little further up the hill you will find a stunning medieval convent and church with an even better view and fewer people.
Favorite Drink Spot – Continentale
Nothing beats the ambiance and view of the rooftop terrace of the Continentale. It is pricey, but completely worth it.
Favorite Photo Op – Ponte Trinita
If you want a great picture of the famed Ponte Vecchio bridge, get up early and head to the bridge just west of it. From this bridge you get and incredible view and the perfect Florence photo op.
Favorite Fancy Meal – Irene
If you want to treat yourself to an incredible meal with great wine, fantastic service, and a terrific view, head to Irene in the Piazza della Republica (more on where to eat in Florence here).
Favorite Cheap Meal – Trattoria Sabatino
This place is delicious and traditional Tuscan. Sadly, it was one of the last places Anthony Bourdain visited before he died.
Favorite Florentine Delight – Coccoli
Coccoli are fried balls of dough that you slather with a special kind of cheese, called stracchino, and wrap with prosciutto. They are terrible for you, but oh-so addictive and delicious. My favorite spot for coccoli in Florence is at Il Teatro.
Favorite Day Trip From Florence – The Countryside Around Siena
Road-tripping through the countryside around Siena is an amazing way to appreciate the beautiful landscape of Tuscany and visit charming little historic towns. And don’t forget to do some wine tasting along the way!
Favorite Store – Gucci Garden
The new Gucci Garden (store, cafe, bookstore, and museum) is a visual delight. Everything sold in the store is made uniquely for this location and it even has a museum showcases iconic Gucci designs.