I know we all want to go back to travel, but as much as I’d like to be on a plane right now I am aware the responsible thing to do is just hang tight and wait for clearer waters. So what do we do in the meantime? We travel in time, of course, and we read all about those places we really want to visit so that, when the time comes, we are more than prepared to take on the adventure.
Today I’m taking you to Florence, Italy, for a quick day stroll. As one of the best Italian cities, you can certainly stay there for much longer, but if you only have 24 hours here’s what according to me is the perfect plan to visit the city of art. My only advice? Don’t go there on a Monday. I am sure you could just walk around the city and still fall in love with it, but most of the museums and indoor attractions are closed on Mondays so really you would miss out on a lot of things.
Try and get there first thing in the morning, so that you can start your day at Ditta Artigianale with the perfect breakfast to get all the energy you’ll need during the day. Just a few steps from Santa Croce, this small coffeeshop has everything you’re looking for: cute interiors, a very friendly staff and the most comprehensive menu, from the international avocado on toast to the sweetest cupcakes like the peach and pistachio one.
With your stomach full, after giving Santa Croce the attention it deserves, start walking towards the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as Duomo di Firenze.
There is only one thing you have to do before you travel to Florence, and that is book the tickets to visit the Duomo. It is an all inclusive ticket for the value of 18 euros (more or less £15) that will give you access to the five different buildings. The only restriction? It lasts 72 hours starting from the visit at the Dome, Cupola in Italian, the only building you will have to book a time for. Make that your first stop and you’re all set!
Go to the west side of the Duomo and join the queue in front of the Porta della Mandorla (Almond’s Door) to get to the Dome. The door itself is already a piece of art you’ll want to fall in love with, you can in fact spot the works of various sculptors from XIV century on it, including Donatello.
Once you’re inside, you’ll wish you had worked out every day for the past seven months, because there are 463 steps that separate you from one of Florence’s best views.
Before you get outside and enjoy that view, stop right there at the top and admire the majestic work of Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari that, in the late 1500s, engaged in the Last Judgement fresco inside the Dome. Only when you step outside and turn around you will be able to fully realise where you are: the Brunelleschi Dome is, as a matter of fact, the most important architectural work in the world since the Roman Empire.
Once you’re back on the ground, you can see a glimpse of the Cathedral’s interior, that believe it or not will look rather empty. If you want to find out the reason, head over to the Museum of the Works of the Cathedral (museo dell’opera) founded in 1891 and containing almost all of the elements that were once in the cathedral and, even more surprising, most of the original parts of the baptistery.
Entering the museum you can admire several sculptural works made for the whole complex of Duomo, such as the Pietà that Michelangelo had initially created for his tomb and, again, the famous Gates of Paradise that Lorenzo Ghiberti made for the baptistery. If you venture inside the museum you’ll find a room where all the different models of the Dome are kept, including the one made from Brunelleschi that was then chosen amongst the others.
When you feel satisfied with your visit at the museum, go to your next stop and get ready to climb a few more staircases. It is 414 the steps you have to climb to get to the top of the bell tower and enjoy a view of the Dome and the whole city that you won’t easily forget.
If there’s one thing I know after you’ve done all these steps, is that you’ll be hungry. Very hungry. But if you want to have the best meal Florence has to offer, you’ll probably have to wait in a queue, I’m sorry. Leave the Dome behind and let your stomach lead you to another work of art: the schiacciata of All’Antico Vinaio.
After queueing for the Dome you probably will not want to stand in another line for the next three months, but listen to me when I tell you you won’t regret any second of it. Take 5 euros out of your pocket and get ready to trade them to taste paradise itself. I wish I had photos of my own to show you, but after such a long wait I simply never had the time to take a picture before I started eating. Go check their instagram page though, it is definitely worth it!
Choose from one of the numerous variants from their menu (that you can find on the app Glovo or, once you’re there, inside the shop) or go crazy and make your own schiacciata by combining the different ingredients you like best. My personal advice? For as little as two more euros try the amazing pistachio sauce, you can thank me later.
When you have finished stuffing your belly, head towards the Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation, probably the most interesting one in the city. As soon as you enter the building you will be able to admire the beauty of marble and gilding in full baroque style, alongside the most breathtakingly paintings like the choirs of angels just on top of the harmonium. No words can truly describe the riot of beauty and arts you will be surrounded by.
In the afternoon, make sure you stop at the Gelateria Edoardo before you cross the Arno River. If there’s one thing Italians are known for around the world is ice cream or, better yet, gelato: anywhere you’ll go there’s no chance of finding a bad one, but if you are looking for a more particular gelato then Edoardo is the right place for you.
Homemade waffles and artisanal flavours, often vegan, are the winning combo for an ice cream you will remember for many years to come. On top of that, Gelateria Edoardo is known for constantly rotating most of their ice cream flavours so that even if you have already paid them a visit before you can always try something new and let them amaze you one more time.
With your ice cream in one hand, walk through Piazza della Repubblica with its colourful carousel and the most famous Giubbe Rosse Café, place where artists and writers used to spend their time in the twentieth century, to then arrive at Ponte Vecchio (literally Old Bridge) for a bit of window shopping that could remind you of the Venice joyful atmosphere.
Continue walking in the direction of Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, another Florence attraction that is definitely worth a visit.
If, by any chance, you have planned your Florence getaway on the third Sunday of the month, I also want you to head towards the Santo Spirito square, where you can attend the “Fierucola“. It is an open market that turns a spotlight on local businesses dedicated to organic and biodynamic products. You can take a walk around stalls full of typical food products, plants, flowers and also some artisanal items.
To put an end on your little Florence escape, there’s only one thing left for you to do: choose where to have dinner. Your first and only choice will have to be a Trattoria and, according to your food habits, there are a couple I suggest you to try.
Get to the city centre and, one next to the other, you will find Mario and Zaza. The first one has to be your pick if you want to try the famous bistecca alla fiorentina, they are known to have the best one in town. If, like me, you don’t eat meat, Zaza is as valid as Mario for you to have dinner at. Just go with your heart, whichever you choose in the end will not disappoint you.
We are at the end of my Florence one-day itinerary and, if you know the Italian city even a little, you would have noticed that there are a few main attractions missing from my list such as the Uffizi museum, the Galleria dell’Accademia with Michelangelo’s David, the super romantic Piazzale Michelangelo and so on, but it is definitely a first taste of a city that’s full of art and culture.
Do you have any Florence attraction that you just can’t miss whenever you visit? Let me know in the comments!