Gorgeous Florence, rich in culture and history was every bit as lovely as we imagined. The capital of Tuscany, and is a lovely gateway to the lovely region of Tuscany, or if you just have 48 hours, there is plenty to enjoy while in Florence whether it's admiring the beautiful architecture, visiting the museums, the food, the list goes on really!
We based ourselves at Hotel Rosso 23 as it was centrally located, but just away enough from the hustle & bustle to be peaceful but also an easy stroll to get to everything we wanted to check out. It was modern, clean and located in a beautiful Renaissance building. We would definitely recommend this hotel for a convenient, gorgeous and affordable place to base yourselves while exploring Florence! Santa Maria Novella was in the square right outside our hotel so it's right on the doorstep of places to spend time in Florence.
Piazza della Signoria, the square just outside Palazzo Vecchio is a great place to start your day as it's right in the hub of all things to admire while in Florence and also known as the heart of Florence.
Visit the Duomo - the inside is so spectacular, but climb the steps up the Bell Tower (Giotto Campanile) just next door so you get a view of the Duomo with the rest of the city.
We loved the gelato in the city so much we went back for multiple servings at the same place La Carraia along the river. Although this one isn't as famous as you'll see on other blogs this suited our needs (tastebud needs) more than sufficiently!
Have a look at the wild boar - Il Porcellino - people near and far come to rub the nose of this wild boar believing it will mean you will return to Florence one day - say we touched it, but if it tickles your fancy - go for it!
Mercato San Lorenzo houses a food market and a leather goods market. The food can be found indoors so if you're feeling a bit peckish you can head up and grab some snacks while you shop away for leather! The leather goods market is outdoors and we picked up a few leather belts while here, although be prepared for large tourist crowds and not necessarily an authentic experience!
Look around anywhere and you'll see multiple leather stalls and everyone knows Florence is the home of leather, and i took this opportunity in Florence to pick up some handmade leather sandals - I've worn them to death and still are the most comfortable worn in leather sandals out there! This shop (Calzature Francesco Da Firenze) can be found just south of the River Arno, exact details here. You can either choose to purchase an existing model or if you have more time you can choose the sole, the colour of the leather you want and even the style and Francesco can whip up something to your taste with a 24 hour turnaround.
The all famous statue of David resides in Galleria dell'Accademia, I'd definitely recommend pre-booking tickets before getting to Florence, otherwise you might be disappointed! We didn't get time to visit Uffizi gallery, however if you're into art this is one of the world's top art museums!
Ponte Vecchio bridge, a lovely cute and romantic bridge has been standing since 1345 and was the only bridge in Florence which was not destroyed during the war, so it's pretty special in Florence! Since 1593, quaint and cute jewellery shops have opened up shop (apparently they're the only type of shop allowed to remain open on the bridge!) so go check it out if you're looking for a more expensive souvenir.
Head up to Piazza Michelangelo - we watched the sunset from this cute little piazza and my did we enjoy it! Not only do you get to witness an amazing sunset, but coupled with the sunset over the beautiful city of Florence and the River Arno - needless to say can you ask for much more!
Make sure your list of things to do/where to eat includes grabbing a bite at Trattoria Mario. It's totally unassuming and once you step inside you'll find a super bustling, albeit chaotic little restaurant (don't be surprised if you're asked to share tables!) Open since 1953, it's a family run business that ensures the ingredients are fresh and food served is so delicious it'll leave you wanting more even if you're completely stuff to the brim just as we were!
Go for a morning run along the River Arno and catch all the sights of the city along the river before the city has woken up. Make sure you run through Oltrarno where you can explore the little streets filled with cute little shops!
We spent a half day out at "The Mall" - the outlet centre just a half hour outside Florence so super easy to get to and from if you'd like to pick up some bargains in Florence.
If you fancy an epic panini while in Florence check out All'Antico Vinaio. These paninis are build it yourselves with the ingredients you fancy and are massive and equally as delicious for only 5 euros! We grabbed one each for our bus ride to Pisa Airport, leaving Florence on an extremely happy and full note!
We Flew: RyanAir, We Stayed: Hotel Rosso 23