Florence in Focus

Firenze, ti amo!

Seriously in love with this city. Perhaps slightly biased because we got married there, and I will forever have the fondest memories walking through the streets with my love, my family and my favourite ladies in my wedding dress, but I’ll save all that for other posts (I will be sure to follow with wedding details at some point soon)…

Anyway, I digress, Firenze, or Florence is my favourite Italian city and I’m about to tell you why… It is the art hub of Italy which for any creative soul, is definitely a BIG tick. That also means it attracts all of the cool pop-ups, eateries etc. that you’d expect in a trendy spot. There are endless bridges (and Ponte Vecchio actually has jewellery shops lining the bridge – need i say more?); architecture that dreams are made of; it’s colourful; has a great location in Tuscany (making both the beautiful tuscan coast accessible, as well as the rolling hills of the wine country); and there is so much to do and see, I think I could visit a million times over! Oh and of course the gelato is pretty damn good too.

Usually when writing a travel blog I write an itinerary, or a diary entry kind-of-post, but not today because you really don’t need to hear about the trip to the caterers, the meeting with the videographer, or how crazy our venue contact was there (that’s all for another post).

So I’ve highlighted some of my favourite spots in a nutshell, and because some of them were discovered whilst exploring with our wedding photographer, I don’t have photos of everything, but you’ll have to trust me on some of them – totally worth it!

Piazza del Duomo and the Duomo itself:

Now there are few buildings that have literally taken my breath away, in fact there are only three. One was the Empire State Building just after 9/11 – it was lit in red, white and blue in memory of all that happened that day; Sydney Opera House and then the Duomo in Florence. It is beautiful, in tones of emerald and blush Italian marble, with a Terracotta roof. Its beauty is literally overpowering.

There is often a queue to climb it too, but it is worth it just to see the sea of Terracotta roofs as they sprawl out into the distance across the city. If you’d like your view to include the dome then be sure to climb Giotto’s Bell Tower, alternatively, just climb the dome, but it is 463 steps to the top! Enroute you can enjoy Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment.

A place to stay:

Like any major city, you’re not going to run out of places to stay and there are a lot of great options both centrally in the city and in the hills bordering Florence (hello view!). In the days leading up to the wedding we stayed in a a Farmhouse called Guin Casarelli that we found on homeaway and the views were to die for, but as a city girl myself, I couldn’t wait to check into the dreamiest of hotels (think super chic), Lungarno Vespucci 50 in central Florence. And lucky us because we had the most beautiful room – a double door entry and the most incredible Fresco ceiling, pictured below.

A beautiful walk:

From the hotel mentioned above, I’d highly recommend walking along the river, cutting in to Maria Santa Novella, then cutting back in towards the river and heading towards Ponte Vecchio. From Ponte Vecchio head to Piazza della Signoria, then the Duomo, and if you time it right, you could head straight to the spot mentioned below for an amazing Aperitivo. When in Rome and all that…

Favourite breakfast / lunch / private dining / Aperol spot:

This has to be La Ménagère – it’s a really trendy spot and I love everything about this concept store come restaurant. The Aperol Spritz is out of this world, the food and avocado toast is pretty damn good and the aesthetic is a dream.

If I could stop here every Monday morning for my coffee fix, well that would be just perfecto!

Spot as many Davids as possible:

This is just a challenge and something we did for fun, but why not?

Uffizi Gallery:

If art is your thing then visiting the Uffizi gallery is a must – it has the world’s largest collection of Renaissance art, booking is a must though.

Santo Spirito:

This is a neighbourhood that the Creative man I happened to sit next to on the plane said was his favourite stop in all of Florence (he’s from there and it is good to talk!) so we checked it out and it is a real mix of locals and tourists, but with a really good vibe, and you can grab some food, sit on the steps and chill out, just like a local. What’s not to love?

Gelato that hits the spot:

The best ice cream spot as recommended by locals (and there is often a queue in the summer months) is Gelateria alla Carraia!

Also if you are planning to visit Florence in September (a great time to avoid the crowds), there is usually an ice cream Festival around the third weekend, where Italy’s best gelato makers come together to compete in the final round in a hope they can be crowned Italia’s best gelato, ok some of the flavours are slightly unusual, but Italy’s best gelato is definitely one that can’t be missed!

Mercato Centrale:

I compare this to Borough market in London – lots of different food outlets and something to please everyone, from Sushi to Pizza (and the pizza place is definitely one of the best in all of Florence). We did one of our group pre-wedding dinners here and it’s relaxed, offers good wine and long tables.

Molo Cinque:

This is a pop up on the river that’s there in the Summer. It offers street food and live music right near the river. Another great spot for groups.

Ponte Vecchio:

Now there are many pretty bridges in Firenze, but this is my favourite (and the one just before it because of its view of Ponte Vecchio) – it is colourful and in a typical Tuscan way; it contains some of the most beautiful jewellery shops (actually on the bridge); and those beautiful shutters too.

Fiesole:

This is a pretty town that’s closest to our wedding venue and you can actually get there form the Hop-on-Hop-Off Bus tour if you do decide to be super touristy (always a great way to start to navigate yourself around a place I think), or you can simply get the number 7 bus from the centre of Florence. It’s a great location on the hills, just north of Florence, and is also where Kim Kardashian got married. On a clear day – the views over Florence are incredible. Plus, there’s a great pizza place in the main square, you’ll know the one if you visit – wooden tables, marble tops, and candle light. Perfect.

It’s also a great place to stay if you want to relax and only venture into Florence for a day or two.

Piazza della Signoria:

This is one of our favourite squares in Florence and you can definitely spy a David here, not forgetting it’s home to a beautiful Chanel boutique, with many pastry and gelato stops nearby. It really is a beautiful square with a beautiful building at every angle.

Maria Santa Novella:

This is one of the places our wedding photographer took us to and I instantly fell in love. Plus it’s where the Grand Hotel Minerva (a great rooftop bar that I visited with friends on wedding eve) is situated. There’s not much going on in the square but it’s definitely worth a visit to while away some time, perhaps with a glass of vino!

For the Pizza lover:

You have to try the Pizza in Mercato Centrale mentioned above, and Pizzeria Toricicoda (reservations advisable), Mangia Pizza, and Pizzeria Spera all serve up a great slice or ten!

If wine is your thing:

You can escape tot the Tuscan hills and explore all that the wine region has to offer – there are plenty of tours available online, or if you’re feeling adventurous, hire a car, or even a Vespa and do it like a proper Italian!

If you want to up your culinary skills:

Try a cooking class, The Food Studio and Desinare both come with a high recommendation.

You see, from Florence, a lot of Italy’s greatest bits are in reach so what’s not to love and on the weekend of our wedding I couldn’t believe how many people said they preferred it to Rome so definitely add it to the bucket list if you haven’t already!

For a great panoramic view of the city:

Head on over to Piazzale Michelangelo – it is one of the best and most famous lookouts in Florence!

Visiting is a must, and for when you do – buon viaggio!

Back soon! Lucy xoxo

Outfit details featured in this post:

 Mules: Dune (old, but similar available below)

Dress: Zara (old – see similar below)

Handbag: Marks and Spencer (old, but similar available below)

Sunglasses: Miu Miu

Necklaces: Missoma

Watch: Cluse from asos

Shop similar below:

(Pssst, if New York Fashion Week is anything to go by – Crochet and white lace will still be big news next Summer too!)

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