Start your day in a typical Italian way: with a cappuccino and a cornetto. Italians love to start their day with pastry and, unless you’re staying in a hotel, you have a big choice of cafés and terrific pastry shops serving up cooked breakfast. Choose one, sit, and enjoy your breakfast.
Dominating Florence’s panorama, Santa Maria del Fiore’s Basilica is a must when in town. During peak-season, hordes of tourists waiting hours and hours in exhausting queues to visit it, so get here early to beat the crowds and the blistering midday sun. The church is famous for its dome, designed by the great Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi. If you don’t mind a climb (463 steps) and tight spaces, there’s a great view waiting for you at the top of the dome. The dome is open every day from 8.30am, and it should take a couple of hours in total. Afterwards, amble around Palazzo Vecchio, the city hall, a massive structure with various rooms and courtyards.
In addition to the Cathedral and Palazzo Vecchio, there are a number of lesser-known cultural spots that are well worth a look. The Basilica of San Lorenzo is one of them. This big church is the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici’s family and contains wonderful artistic works by Brunelleschi, Donatello and Michelangelo. After the visit you really deserve to rest: go to the Central Market to have a great meal. On the ground floor is a conventional marketplace with vendors selling typical Tuscan wine, cheese, oil, spices, honey, meat, fish, while the upstairs food court is a handy stop-off for a quick lunch. The market is open every day from 8am to midnight.
No trip in Italy is complete without gelato. One of Florence’s most famous ice-cream shops is La Carraia, a terrific gelateria located in the Oltrarno neighborhood. Remember to taste the classic flavors like crema, chocolate and pistachio — you won’t regret it.
Oltrarno is the new cool place of Florence. This lesser-known quartier has artisan workshops, galleries and chic fashion boutiques. The two most important gardens of Florence are here too — Boboli Garden and Bardini Garden. While Boboli is larger and more famous, the vistas of Florence from Bardini are better. The garden is rather beautiful with wisteria flowers, statues and, considerably fewer tourists.
It’s aperitivo time! Perched on the top of a hill, Forte Belvedere’s terrace offers a spectacular setting to enjoy a spritz, blazing sunset and dazzling views over Florence.
There’s a great variety of dining spots in Florence depending on your budget. Il Magazzino is a typical Tuscan taverna frequented mostly by locals. Fuor d’Acqua is an excellent restaurant where you can taste good fresh fish that arrives every day from the fish market of the coastal town of Viareggio. Florence is also famous for its street food scene, so if you are looking for cheaper options there’s a big choice of meals you can eat on-the-go; such as trippa, lampredotto (cow stomach) and schiacciata (Tuscan bread salad).