For many years, I had wanted to travel to the Tuscan region of Italy. Florence, or Firenze, is one of the main cities in that region. With beautiful greenery, hills, famous sights, it’s also the home of famous fashion brands, (such as Gucci), and has delicious food.
I did a lot of my research about Florence, from an American girl who lives there: Girl in Florence. Thanks to her recommendations, me and my friend had delicious food, gelato, and brunch in our time there! Check out her blog for other recommendations!
Florence is a city for walking or riding the bus (there is no metro!). Bus tickets are sold at tobacco shops, (which there are many) or other convenience stores. Almost everything is closed on Sunday, except for some places to eat, so make sure you buy your bus ticket before Sunday (you can buy your ticket on the bus too, but need exact change, even so by Sunday afternoon the bus stops selling tickets, even if they still run). Most restaurants are closed on Monday in Italy, so double check if something is open. For dinner I recommend that you make a reservation. This is the rule of thumb I would apply for most cities in Europe (because some will turn you away). I would suggest you book a hotel or Airbnb close to the places you want to see, in Florence, because really walking is your best bet. Google maps can also tell you which bus to take to get to where you want to go or ask someone.
There are tons of tourists in Florence (rightfully so)! We went to the Bardini Gardens which I had read about on many blogs. I loved the views and the fact that no one was around! It’s not too big, and easy to see and walk around with panoramic views of the city! A great way to start your day (most parks are closed by sunset).
There are many famous museums to see, try to book online in advance to save time (you may have to pay a few Euros more), and don’t believe individuals standing around trying to sell you a ticket or telling you you will have to wait a long time before you can go in, unless you buy their ‘special’ ticket.
I would suggest that even if you are on vacation it’s a good idea to have one chill day out of the week. We actually used that day to go do laundry, lol. Coming from Atlanta, most people do not use a laundry mat unless theirs’s is broken. In other big cities it’s normal to use one and looking back for the long trip we had (or if you don’t like to travel with too much luggage), I’m so glad my friend pressured me into going. We went to a local grocery store called COOP, bought detergent packets, and zip laundry bags. I bought some things like, locally made coffee beans and soaps, that made such neat gifts! We got fruit to snack on and went to a café for coffee that was inside the grocery store. After a week of being on the go non-stop, I had such relief to do our laundry, be chill, and do as the locals do. It was a lot of fun to see all the cool ingredients for Italian food that they use in their home too and to see what American brands they use. The laundry mat’s in Europe can be super fancy: they have music playing, a coffee machine, and are pretty cheap (the one we went to had a machine that exchanges bills into coins).
To get to Florence you can ride a train into the city from most other cities. We flew from Berlin to Bologna, Italy then rode a 35 minute train into Florence ( so it is possible to make a day trip as that is also an amazing ancient city to see close to Florence). I bought my ticket online in America before arriving. I chose that route because it was difficult to find affordable flights straight into Florence from Berlin. Florence has a main train station the Santa Maria Novella train station (but no train stops throughout the city). Most of the famous sights are not too far from this train station. Also I suggest day trips into the Tuscan countryside, (check out the Girl in Florence’s blog I mentioned above). Actually at the time we were visiting, Obama and his family were visiting the Tuscan region as well.
For shopping: the blog I mentioned gives lots of suggestions. I love Italian bags so I suggest going to Mia Bag. They have a store right by the Duomo and they are so stylish and trendy. Most of the bags are in the $200~range or below, but I feel like for the price you are getting a beautiful bag that other more known brands would double if not triple the price. There’s also Liu Jo which sells beautiful clothes and bags that are little more affordable, and I saw many Italian ladies carrying pieces from them. Mia Bag also has a store in Milan.
Well I hope this guide helps in your next Italian adventure! Stay posted for my trip to Milan next (mA)! Thanks again!