a recap of our adventures in Florence, Italy!
After our 2.5 days in Rome, we made our way to Florence – a much quieter, cozy city about 170 miles north of Rome. We stayed in Florence for a total of 5 days, 4 nights. If you are on a tighter schedule, 3.5-4 days in Florence would be sufficient to see a majority of the majority sites and still have some downtime for relaxing/exploring.
As you’ll see in our recap below, Florence is full of charm, history, and art. As two Iowans whom are NOT history buffs, we found ourselves charmed with all the stories we heard, artwork, and beauty around every corner. Unlike Rome, Florence has a slightly more “simple” beauty – there’s not as much grandiose to the buildings, but it’s one of the most romantic and charming places we’ve ever visited!
We traveled in to Florence from Rome – if you missed that blog post, you can read it here! We took the high speed train from the Rome Train Station (Roma Termini) to Firenze Santa Maria Novella Train Station. We booked our train tickets in advance (before our trip) from ItaliaRail. It takes about an hour and a half total & was such a breeze!
Most trains leave Rome Termini station several times per hour for Florence Santa Maria Novella Station — averaging 61 trains per day. The earliest train to Florence leaves Rome Termini station at 5:35 a.m. The last train to Florence leaves Rome Termini at 9:30 p.m – so you can plan a train that works best for your itinerary.
Once we arrived at the Florence Train Station, we decided to just make the 15 min walk with our luggage to our Airbnb. One thing to note about Florence is it is very pedestrian friendly & you will walk virtually everywhere! The historic center is closed to traffic except for residents, taxis and buses. We did end up renting Bird scooters here and there when we were traveling longer distances (or just for fun).
WHERE WE STAYED:
We absolutely splurged on our Florence Airbnb & would do it over again in a heartbeat. It was likely the most magical places we have (and ever will) stay in our entire life. It was one of the “once in a lifetime” places that we will dream of forever. If you have the extra budget & can find an opening – BOOK IT. If it’s not a priority for you, trust me – there are so many wonderful places to stay in Florence!
Our airbnb was located just a few steps off the Piazza del Duomo, which overlooks not only the stunning Duomo and Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, but also the Baptistery of St. John. It is a very busy piazza, but we didn’t find it to be overwhelming. It was fun to watch the workers & Florentines heading to work in the morning, tourists and photographers come out during the day, and then slowly the night life start with live music and dancing!
Like I mentioned earlier, Florence is a fraction of the size of Rome – you can walk virtually anywhere you want to go within 10-20 minutes! So wherever you end up staying will be wonderful, but we did enjoy the Duomo area and would stay there again! Lots of cozy alleyways & scenic history around every corner.
MUST SEE SITES:
Accademia Gallery & The Statue of David
We did a guided tour of the Accademia, which includes the Statue of David. It was crowded and busy (like most museums), but we still enjoyed seeing the artwork we’ve heard about basically our whole life. This is only a 1-2 hour tour, so you could fit it in with other activities for the day too!
Duomo Tour with Climb to the Top
This is a must see & do in our opinion! The Duomo and Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was stunning and captivating. The artwork inside the dome & story behind the construction and renovations was amazing. I personally think the dome climb is a must do – it’s a lot of stairs, very tight quarters, and most of them are spiral (so prepare yourself), but I would do it again because it was such an incredible experience! Duomo Climb & Tour Booking
The history of this gallery is so incredible and the details in the entire building just took our breath away! From the artwork, to the ceilings, to the family portraits.. it’s a gallery you could spend days in. We did a guided tour of this as well and thought it was super helpful as there is a lot to see and a lot of history/stories behind the gallery and its pieces.
Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
This was actually something we stumbled upon our last day in Florence and we are SO glad we did! A beautiful palace that was once home to the Medici family. We didn’t end up doing a guided tour, but thought it might have been helpful – we just toured around the beautiful rooms and then went for a long walk around the Boboli Gardens. So surreal to thing of the Medici family living here!
OTHER THINGS TO SEE & DO:
In addition to those guide tours & sites, here were some of our other favorite highlights from our trip:
This was one of our favorite parts of our entire trip to Italy. We took a bottle of wine & walked to the overlook that is the Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Duomo area, so leave in plenty of time! It’s essentially a lookout over the entire city of Florence and so magical. It also gets very busy before sunset, so we opted for a more secluded spot away from the crowds. It was so intimate and surreal.. a pinch me moment for sure!
Wine Tour / Tasting
We didn’t end up booking a true wine tour in Tuscany, but would probably do that next time! You can find lots on Viator and Get Your Guide.
Buchette del Vino (Wine Window)
Find one of the Wine Windows throughout the city & order a glass of wine! Sip it on the street & just take in the beauty of Florentine life.
You must take a walk through this bustling outdoor market! We didn’t end up buying anything, but if you like jewelry, gold, watches, etc. you will love it!
On our last day, we had some down time and decided spur of the moment – let’s rent a vespa! Italy traffic is not for the faint of heart or inexperienced, so proceed with caution lol! But we had a really wonderful afternoon exploring the Tuscany hills on our own, stumbled upon the cutest town for lunch, and enjoyed getting out of the city for a moment.
Make sure to checkout my Florence IG Story Highlight — I documented every moment of our trip there so you can watch back + get inspo!
GustaPizza — Likely the best pizza we’ve ever ate! We ended up eating here twice because it was that good!
Gelateria dei Neri — the best gelato we had on our entire trip! And trust me, we tried a lot of different gelato. Such creamy, the vibe of the little store is amazing.. a must go!
Trattoria 13 Gobbi — one of our best meals ever. We heard about this place from one of our cab drivers (always ask them for local recs!) Get reservations in advance, it is always booked up! Prepare your heart for a multiple course meal and the best homemade Italian meal.
Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori – we had such a wonderful experience here! Again, you’re going to need reservations for this family-owned, very popular restaurant. The staff were so fun & food was absolutely to die for. We ended up walking in around 6 pm that night to try to get a reservation – they told us to come back at 9:30 pm and we said YOU GOT IT! Worth the wait.
Casual Spots & Wine Tastings
I Peccati Del Mangiarino — a cute wine bar just off the beaten path! We had a wonderful cheese board and wine tasting here for lunch our first day.
Enoteca Alessi — another wine bar we stopped at & had a more traditional wine tasting at. All the wine we tried here was incredible & we ended up buying a bottle to-go (takeaway).
Breakfast & Coffee
Our favorite place for a cappuccino and pastry was Coronas Cafe – we went back several times throughout our stay!
One of the best cups of espresso I’ve ever had in my life was at Eataly Firenze. The vibe is more for locals; and I had a not so pleasant run-in with a local Florentine there.. but I would still go back just for the espresso!
If you’re reading this and a trip to Italy feels like a faraway dream – trust me, I get it. That was me for years.. feeling like we’ll never make it happen. But we did, and you will too! I hope our experience will help it make it easier for you to plan your own trip!
Message me on IG if you need more recommendations or have any questions!