Two days in this beautiful city is not nearly enough time if you ask me. I could have continued to get lost in the small little streets and alley ways for weeks, but I could have done that in basically all of Italy. The biggest difference for Kirby and I right off the bat was that we were alone for the first time in Europe. The 7 other members of my family caught a flight back home that morning while we got to train through the beautiful country side of Italy from Rome (find my travel post here) to Florence. My favorite part of that, by far, was passing the amazing and huge sunflower fields. I told Kirb I wished we would have drove so we could have pulled over because they were like nothing I had ever seen before. I knew the second we started getting closer to the city center that 48 hours in Florence was going to be exhilarating, but so hard to leave.
Florence was different from Rome almost immediately. The way people dressed, the amount of tourist was much less and the streets were even different... Similar, but different. I loved Rome, but I don't think I would need to go back again. It's extremely touristy and not half as charming as Florence. I think I texted my youngest sister almost immediately (she talks of moving over seas one day) that Florence would be the city for her. From the amazing streets filled with high end and normal shopping, the carousel in the middle of the main area and the beautiful (& clean) cobble stone streets throughout... I knew we were going to have the time of our lives exploring.
Check out my Vlog on Florence
The Air B&B we stayed at was ah-mazing! It was such a cute lofted place with a stunning view of the Duomo. We had the perfect location in the middle of the city which made it really easy to see everything we wanted to with only a short amount of time. Our days were filled with pasta, pizza, gelato and wine... As was most of the 3 week trip in Europe, but now that we were on our own it was that much easier to just get carried away and lost in the streets of Florence.
One of our favorite things to do was wandering in and out of the old churches we would find along the way. There is seriously one every other street and they all had such different looks with such a special feeling. We lit a lot of candles for Jen, my sister-in-law who passed away in December 2014 and for some reason it just felt that much more magical being in Italy than it ever has anywhere else. Maybe it's because some of the churches have literally been standing there for 1000s of years, that kind of made you feel closer to God, or maybe it was because we were lost in a European dream. Either way, it was awesome.
One crazy thing that ended up falling on the one full day we were there is the day Florence celebrates Saint John the Baptist! It's only one of the biggest days of the year in Florence (and my moms birthday, June 24), no big deal. We walked up on things happening right out of the Duomo on our way to breakfast and got to actually see the parade of Bishops and more heading into the church. It was unreal and as we went through the day we continued to ask locals about the celebration so we could keep learning more. Another thing we learned (and watched on tv) that happens that day is Calcio Storico, a historical football game from the 16th century Renaissance Florence. We stumbled upon it when we stopped for wine at an outdoor bar (shocker) and a ton of people were so into it cheering the different teams on. It seemed very intense and we had no idea really what was happening, but it was crazy knowing the history and knowing it was taking place in the city when we were there!
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us
I think my two favorite historical things in the city of Florence was the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge and the Piazzale Michelangelo. Both were just so cool and gave such amazing views of the city. The bridge is right in the center and has amazing shops along it plus has the signature gondola boats going under it which is just picture perfect Italy. We made sure to get to the bridge during the day and night so we could see both views and it truly was so magical and romantic. Having a giant cone of gelato in hand obviously helped with the moments as well.
We made sure to make our way all the way up to Piazzle Michelangelo for sunset which was the most spectacular view of Florence and we got the most beautiful sunset. It was a moment I will never forget and I just felt so lucky to be standing there with my husband. Since it was the biggest day of the year there were actually fireworks planned for that evening! Woohoo! There is kind of a running joke between Kirby and I because on almost every trip we go on, we somehow run into fireworks. I obviously get all excited and Kirby will go, "You know I'm the one setting all these up for you"... In his sassy voice and it gets me every time. At this point I like to think of it as God's little reminder that we're in the right place at the right time, and with the right person.
Since we're not big fans of the crowd we ditched the craziness at the top, bought a bottle of wine and sat on a ledge next to the river watching the massive amounts of fireworks that went off. I mean, I know America does it big, but this was so insane and never ending! Again, a very special moment to have with Kirby. Florence overall was so amazing and like I said we could have stayed for much longer, but we had a train to catch and another BEAUTIFUL place to get to... Cinque Terre, here we come!
Find a list below of all the places we were able to check out and some of the things we advice skipping if you don't have the time... Or because we we're fans haha. Florence is truly amazing babes and definitely a place you need to go if in Italy.
Eat & Drink
Robiglio - Super cute little cafe/restuarant on the side of the cobble stone sidewalk. This was the first place we at and for some reason I didn't order pasta or pizza (only time the entire time in Italy), but I did have a delicious smoked salmon salad with cream cheese. Kirby ordered the pesto gnocchi so I obviously had bites of that too.
La Posta - This adorable restaurant was blocks off the main square and the cutest greenery covered patio we ate under. This place also had the best bruschetta Kirby and I have ever had in our lives. For dinner we ordered the ravioli rose and the tortellini bolognese, both amazing.
Cucciolo Bar - Favorite place I Florence by far, and you would probably never guess it by looking at it! It wasn't a fancy restaurant by any means, but the pizza was amazing! We spotted it the first day we were there in one of the cable stone alley ways and made a point to get back there the second day. You order you own small personal pizza and we got one of the two tables on the sidewalk to eat at. Paired with a bottle of wine + people watching, we were set for a couple hours. Definitely try this place out!
We stopped for wine plenty of other places, but to be honest the wine is good at any and all spots in Italy!
Piazzale Michelangelo - This showed us vies so Florence that were truly unreal. It's a hike to get up there, but I highly recommend making it there for Sunset. Obviously be ready fro crowds, but it was so worth it!
Piazza del Duomo - This is the entire area that surrounds the Duomo, Cathedral and more. It is truly stunning and each building had the most unreal amount of details put into the architecture we found ourselves staring up for a while.
Ponte Vecchio - You need to get to the bridge not only to see the beautiful views and Arno River, but also to shop the super unique stores. I found the most amazing jewelry there... That I tried to convince Kirby into getting me, but we choose wine instead for a much cheaper price.
Piazza della Signoria - This was another big area that housed a ton of historical statues (the replica of David being one of them) and we loved being able to read about each one.
Via dei Calzaiuoli - Super beautiful street that goes from Piazza della Signoria to Piazza del Duomo and has high end & everyday shops. I obviously made my way into a few high end stores, but Chloe was my favorite because it was one I had never been in before.
Piazza della Repubblica - Although I would recommend eating at any of the restaurants here you at least need to see it! Its the spot were the famous carousel is located and also has a ton of street artists + great people watching!
Things to Skip
Restaurants in Piazza della Repubblica - Do not eat at one of these places. We sadly ended up there one of the nights and hated the dinner. The area is a really cute and fun tourist area, but that brings th worst of food in Italy we have learned.
Real Statue of David - With only having a short amount of time we decided to skip waiting in the 5+ hour line to view the real statue of David and opted for the replica. Funny thing is it took us hours to find the replica only to find out that we had passed it a million times. We laughed about it because we explored more churches and streets along the way, but with the humid I think we lost about 5 pounds walking around.