If you’ve clicked on this article, you’ve made the first step towards a whimsical journey to Florence, Italy! The beautiful rolling hills. The amazing food and wine. The historic art and architecture make Florence the perfect next destination to put on your list!
As one of my favorite places to visit, there’s so much to do and see, but time is often limited.
So, to help you make the most of your visit, I’ve put together a tried and true itinerary to see the best of Florence, Italy!
Small Group Food Walking Tour
Florence is a treasure trove of incredible restaurants that even with a map can be challenging to find on your own. A two-hour tasting tour gives you the introduction you need to authentic local flavors that are often missed by tourists. Led by a local guide, you’ll discover fresh food markets and test out delicious restaurants. Most of all, you’ll have opportunities to ask your guide for recommendations to local restaurants that can really set the tone for the rest of your trip!
Walk Over to the Oldest Bridge in Florence
After you’ve satisfied your palette with some delicious Florentine cuisine, walk over to the Ponte Vecchio, also known as the Old Bridge. This iconic landmark was rebuilt in the 14th century and is still operating today. During the day, local vendors set up shop selling mostly handmade jewelry, and at night, you can take in luminous lights and live street music. I recommend visiting both day and night to have contrasting experiences.
When visiting during the day, stop into Mangia Pizza located right before crossing the Old Bridge.
Ten euros and a fifteen-twenty minutes’ walk from the city center will get you into this massive 11-acre garden once owned by the infamous Medici family. The park is home to a collection of sculptures dating from as early as the 16th century, along with beautiful landscaping. There’s an impeccable view of the city at the peak which would make for scenic photos. You can also tour the home on the property for about ten euros more.
Chianti Countryside Tour
As one of the closest Tuscan regions to Florence, Chianti is famous for their wine vineyards and beautiful rolling hills. One of my favorite vineyards is the Castello del Trebbio. This was also once owned by the Medici family. If you’re feeling up to spending a little more time in the serene countryside, you can book a villa overnight on this property. Otherwise, check out sites like Trip Advisor or Viator for day tours.
Pisa/Lucca or Siena Day Trip
Two words for visiting Pisa – Leaning Tower.
The lesser-known Lucca was a surprise delight. Its medieval, renaissance vibe served as the perfect backdrop to enjoy the scenery while drinking an Aperol Spritz.
During my visit to Florence, I had multiple people recommend visiting Siena. Although I haven’t been myself, I’d be remiss not to mention this as an alternative after doing a little research of my own. From the beautiful architecture to the staple Tuscany rolling hills filled with wine vineyards, I am definitely adding this place to my list for my next visit.
Private Cooking Class
This was one of the highlights of my trip, so I recommend it to everyone thinking of making the voyage to Florence. I did my class with Chef Vary who graciously invited me into the home she shares with her partner, which happens to be in a historic 600 years-old building. Chef Vary made me feel right at home with serene music and Italian wine. She had beautiful vintage pieces in her home like a 260 years-old table. I learned so much from her about Italian culture, and we made the best pasta and gnocchi I’ve ever had. HANDS. DOWN.
The chef puts together the menu based on your preferences, and she can host up to eight people. As a note, do not wear sandals to your cooking class unless you want to be scolded by the chef. Apparently, it’s a hazard -_-.
For a few euros, you can hop on a local bus that will take you to this charming little town only fifteen minutes from Florence. You’ll want to visit this little-known gem to check out the ancient Roman theatre and get an aerial view of Florence from afar.
Many people may not recognize the name of this museum, but art lovers would be familiar with the famous David statue that it houses. The masterpiece sculpted by famed artist, Michelangelo, has made this art gallery one of the busiest in the world. You could stand in line up to three hours during peak season just to see it. A little hack to get in much quicker – pay the extra euros for a group tour.
Uffizi Gallery Private Tour
As an art and history lover, I have never seen so many historical art pieces assembled in one place. The Medici family owned most, if not all, the art in this museum. They were huge collectors and supporters of the arts, and this gallery shows how much appreciation they had. You could easily spend HOURS walking through the museum and still not see everything. I toured this gallery with a knowledgeable guide to focus on the more important pieces to gain a better appreciation for the artwork.
Ahh, alas. One of the best parts of Italian culture is their happy hours. An Italian Aperitivo typically takes place before dinner, between 7pm-9pm. Pop into any wine bar in the city and grab a cocktail, or two – maybe three (whose counting; you’re on vacation).
Florentine people like their late dinners. If you decide to grab a meal after 8:30 pm, it’s highly recommended to make reservations. I found most restaurants by walking around or word of mouth, but one restaurant that was a highlight for me was Buca Mario. This place is A MUST. They’re known for their steaks, and although I am not a steak eater, I saw several people order it and must say - It looked AMAZING. If you decide on the steak and don’t like it rare, make sure you tell them, or that’s what you’ll get. It is the customary way to prepare steaks in Florence. Unless you’ve got a ridiculously large appetite, you’ll want to share it with someone else because it is HUGE. As a bonus, you'll get a complimentary Buca Mario apron when you leave.
Enjoy the best of Florence, Italy!