I’m so excited for today’s post! Scott and I were lucky enough take a wonderful trip to Europe and see some new cities. I fell head-over-heals hard in love with Italy—the warm, boisterous culture, the wine, the gelato (all the food really!), the architecture and the people. I’m not kidding you when I say I had over 2000 photos of the Florence and Tuscan regions alone. Every single one was beautiful—it’s hard NOT to get a perfect photo when you are surrounded by such beauty! 🙂 Don’t worry though, while this is definitely a photo-heavy post, I managed to narrow it down quite a bit. Here are my favorite photos and my favorite places we saw! Oh—AND—Scott was kind enough to make an AWESOME 2 minute video of our highlights from Florence- check it out at the end of the post!
Let’s start with Florence. By far Florence was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I definitely want to go back!
How to get there:
Of course this will depend on where you are leaving from, but we found that plane tickets were much cheaper flying into a major European city (Barcelona for us) and then taking a Ryan Air flight into Florence. Once you are at the airport, do what the cool kids/everyone does and take a bus into the city instead of a taxi. We talked to lots of locals on the plane and at the airport and they all told us not to take a taxi. I’m glad we listened! The bus was easy to navigate…the driver was friendly and you are dropped off at the Santa Maria Station. From there, we took a 15 minute walk to the hotel. Remember, don’t overpack! We each took a carry on only for our ten days in Europe (check out how we packed here and what I wore here).
Where to stay:
B&B La Signoria Di Firenze. Via Calimaruzza 1, Uffizi, 50123 Florence, Italy
We got a great rate at a sweet Bed and Breakfast. We never made it for the included breakfast—but I heard great things. We did talk to the people running it and got great tips on what to eat. Again, I can’t recommend it enough—talk to locals and get their opinions. Everyone in Italy is so nice!
What to eat:
EVERYTHING. You guys, all we did was eat carb and drink wines and walk 30,000+ steps every day. It was Heavenly. We stumbled into so many places, I love all the local, small restaurants and little wine bars. My recommendation is to drink all the wine, eat all the gelato and everything else! Italian cooking is the real deal you guys. Here are some particular shout outs:
Vinaino Fiorenza. Via Vacchereccia 13/R, 50123, Florence, Italy (Uffizi)
Scott and I stumbled upon this place our first night in Florence. We were very intrigued by this place—literally the smallest restaurant I’ve ever seen. It had such beautiful decor and the nicest people work there. I had the best prosecco there…dare I say Italian prosecco could give French champagne a run for it’s money? Maybe. 🙂
Panini Toscani. Piazza Del Duomo 34/R (Close to Museo Opera Del Duomo), 50122, Florence, Italy
I read a few reviews of this place online and am happy to say it’s worth the hype! The owner is extremely friendly and speaks great English. He gives customers a chance to sample the meat and cheese options to ensure you have a perfect panini. Of course, no panini would be complete without a glass of wine—they have great choices and the entire meal was really inexpensive! The view is also great—we sat outside with a beautiful view of Santa Maria. Definitely recommend!
Aqua al due(2). Via della Vigna Vecchia, 40r, Firenze, Italy
This is the one place that was recommended to us over and over by friends who had gone to Florence. I have to admit…we didn’t really love it. We had a bad experience with the waiter and the food was a bit meh. I am adding this one in because our friends loved it so much and had a totally different experience, but it seemed a bit touristy to us. So maybe read reviews and decide for yourself. 🙂
La Carraia gelato. Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25, 50124, Florence, Italy
Like I said, we ate gelato every single day we were in Italy. Often I barely ate dinner because I was so excited for gelato. We generally wandered the streets and stopped at random gelato shops and asked the servers for their favorite flavors to try. That served us so well! La Carraia was our favorite though. It’s legendary and for good reason—so many flavors, all so good! It is on the other side of the river from the city center, but at most a 15-20 minute walk which will earn you a gelato. 🙂
Mercato Central. Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 50123, Florence, Italy
We were introduced to this place by some new friends we met from Sydney! We went to dinner with them there and it was amazing. There are a ton of different options…think of it like a very, very, very nice mall food court.
Where to shop:
I didn’t get a ton of shopping time in. In fact, I only shopped at two places—an open-air market at the center of the city and a famous art-supply store I was dying to go to. Is anyone surprised? 🙂 If you are into arts and crafts at all, check this place out:
Zecchi. Via dello Studio, 19/r, 50122 Firenze, Italy
What to do:
Piazza Michelangelo. 50125 Firenze, Italy
My favorite thing we did was to make the steep climb to Piazza Michelangelo. You can take a bus if you aren’t into a million stairs, but we did it to offset that gelato. The piazza offers an incredible view of the city. If you are in Florence for even a day, you must do this! It’s free and you’ll get the most amazing photos! I recommend what the locals do—grab a snack and a bottle of wine and go up there at sunset to watch the show. Amazing!
Piazza della Signoria. Piazza della Signoria, 50123, Florence, Italy
Our hotel was right outside the piazza. It’s a great place to people watch and filled with statues including a copy of the statue of David.
Galleria del’Accademia. Via Ricasoli, 58/60, Firenze, Italy
This is a small museum that houses a very BIG statue—the statue of David. There are other pieces definitely worth seeing, but we had to rush through the museum since our time was limited. Go early and enjoy!
Uffizi Gallery. Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
This museum is another incredible one! Definitely much bigger than the Accademia but filled with rooms and rooms of treasures. I was particularly interested in Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. I remember studying that painting back in high school and it was amazing to see in person! Bonus—someone told me I looked like a Botticelli painting. Yay for long red hair with curls! 🙂
Go into every single church you can!!! They are free and are like a giant floor to ceiling art museum! I got chills in every one. They are breathtaking!
If you do nothing else in Florence, stroll the streets, drink the house wine, eat gelato, wander into churches, talk to people and climb the Piazza Michelangelo. 🙂
As you’ll see, I encountered a lot of celebs on our European adventure. Florence was our first brush in with one—Richard Maddon, AKA Rob Stark on Game of Thrones. I (very, very stupidly) yelled out LONG LIVE THE KING OF THE NORTH. And ya’ll—he winked at me. So hard. 🙂 He was in town along with Dustin Hoffman filming a new show. Get a sneak peek in the video below!
Again, my thanks to Scott for putting together this fun video. Neither of us knew we should be filming in portrait mode, so…just go with it! 🙂