If you ever take a trip to Northern Italy and stay in one of the major cities, you may be surprised to find out how easy it is to do a little city-hopping via train. While on a recent trip to Verona, my boyfriend and I decided to take a day trip to the city of Florence. Florence is an incredibly popular city in Italy, attracting over 16million visitors every year, cramming in to see the beautiful sites and taste some of the amazing food in the city which is regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance. So if you’re wondering how you’d spent just a short day or few hours in the city, here are a few tips from me to you.
How to get thereWhen we visited from Verona, we decided to take a train, a journey that only lasted about an hour and a half. We didn’t book in advance, not at all – in fact, we booked just the night before we decided to go as there’s nothing like booking a last minute trip on a whim. We booked through the EU Trainline website and the process couldn’t have been more simple, or stress-free and because we’d booked last minute, we ended up travelling in First Class for a bargain price.
Start with a gelato
After a train journey, of course your perfect first stop should be a gelato and what better place for that than Don Nino. Located just opposite Florence’s famous Duomo di Firenze (which will more than likely be your first stop in the city, anyway), this is the perfect little spot to take in some iconic views while you grab a gelato and cannoli. But in true Italian style, these portion sizes aren’t for the faint-hearted, or the dairy intolerant.
Experience cityscape views from the Duomo
When we arrived, we realised that we should have booked ahead to climb the Cathedral’s dome – they were booked up four days in advance! But instead, we settled for the bell tower, which also grants you some pretty incredible views if the former is already fully booked by the time you arrive. As there’s no lift to the stop and the staircase is pretty tight in the tower, wait times can be quite frustrating for this one, but it’s worth it. Plus, for €18, you can purchase a full package pass which includes entry to the Cathedral, the Dome, the Baptistry, the Bell Tower, the Crypt and the museum, with the pass lasting for 72 hours after your first entry.
Afternoon snacksAfter climbing a hefty number of steps at the Cathedral, you might want to consider grabbing a snack to refuel. If you’re looking for something quick, I’d highly recommend stopping at Il Bufalo Trippone for a sandwich and a glass of wine. All sandwiches are freshly prepped and offer an incredible selection of Italian meats and you can pair this with a glass of one of the shop’s carefully selected wines, with many from the nearby regions. Plus, if you love the wine and can’t bear to leave it behind, you can purchase a bottle to take home too.
Visit Ponte VecchioA truly iconic site in Florence, during World War II, this was the only bridge across the Arno that didn’t get destroyed in the conflict. Today, it is home to many beautiful jewellery stores that attracts so many visitors and you’ll see tourists fighting their way through to catch a glimpse of the store windows. But if jewellery isn’t your thing, it also has beautiful views of the river Arno and the stunning scenery around the city of Florence.
Grab some dinner
It wouldn’t be a visit to Florence without sitting down at one of its delightful restaurants for a dinner serving. We chose Osteria Vecchio Cancello as it wasn’t too far from the train station for our ride home and had some pretty great TripAdvisor reviews. This is a delightful, romantic stop and one which I would highly recommend. The food comes fresh from the family farm and seems to be very much a family business, with a father in the kitchen creating the food and a daughter front-of-house serving the delights. I opted for taglierini with cod and chickpea sauce for my ‘primi piatti’ while my boyfriend opted for an enormous serving of steak, which even caught the attention of passersby. For dessert, I opted for a pear and dark chocolate tart, a dessert which I would honestly eat every day if I could. The food was priced in the medium range but it’s worth every single cent for the food quality as well as the cosy atmosphere.
Of course, there’s so much more to see and do in Florence including a visit to the fortress Palazzo Vecchio with incredible views across the city, viewing some beautiful pieces of art in the Galleria degli Uffizi or the Museo di San Marco and so much more. If you only have a short day to spend in one city, make sure you prioritise what you want to see and do the most, then make it happen. These were just a few priorities for my trip to Florence but if you have anything different, drop a comment below as I’d love to hear your suggestions.