Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Now onto my favorite city in all of Italy…..
Florence is exactly what I think of when I think of an Italian city. The history here is unmatched, there are museums on every corner, & the architecture will never ever be duplicated.
Florence has the vibrance of city life and the feeling that comes with visiting a big city, so much to do so much to see. But while there is that contagious vibe, they do it in a slow and carefree way. Trust me when I say a few days in, that lifestyle rubs off on you. Florence has Tuscany knocking at it’s door and it’s a very central location to get to any other major Italian city.
walking alongside the Duomo
We spent a big percentage of our total trip in Florence. Partially wedding planning, partially eating and drinking our way through the city. Our first stop after leaving Rome was actually our future wedding venue. I won’t share too many details about it but that we stayed in Tuscany not too far outside of Florence. Don’t worry, I’ll share all our wedding details next July 2020 after we’ve celebrated with a small group of our friends and family.
Future I Do (part 2) spot xoxoxo
After our Tuscan night we headed back to the city center and for the remainder of our Florence trip we stayed 2 nights at the Peruzzi Residences and 2 nights at the Westin Excelsior Hotel.
HOTEL: #1 Peruzzi Residences
Peruzzi Residences: are in the heart of the city center and you can walk to literally everything. I loved the décor and beauty of this brand new hotel, it was easily one of my favorite places we stayed. Right around the corner was Santa Maria Novella.
walking into Peruzzi Residences
Piazza Santa Croce right around the corner from Peruzzi
I Numbered few places we ate throughout our Florence trip…
1. Across the street from Peruzzi was Osteria delle Brache restaurant. We spent ALOT of time there as the workers were so friendly and taught us what they knew about the area and all of Italy. Order our favorite drink, hugo spritz!
Pro Tip: you do NOT have to tip on top of the bill. In Italian culture tips are not required like they typically are in the United States. The only reason you would ever tip on top of your bill is if you were at a fancy restaurant and/or had OUTSTANDING service all night.
Outside and to the left was an alleyway filled with leather vendors. We all found something we love and Jan and I got matching travel bags, hers is a camel color, mine is red. ALSO almost got this fur lololol, couldn’t do it being it was 97 degrees. The gelato shop Vivoli Gelateria, catering the dessert cart for our wedding was also right around the corner from the Peruzzi so naturally we had to taste test!
Vivoli Gelateria – Florence, New York, & Orlando
2. OBICÀ– Mozzarella bar, Pizza e Cucina. Outstanding wine, atmosphere pizza and caprese! Highly recommend this place it was one of our favorites and recommended to us by a local. It’s definitely more of an upscale date night type of place, but we wandered in there after a long day of walking around and shopping and had an incredible experience!
Pro tip: ALWAYS ask for the bill or check. They will leave you to enjoy yourself all night if you don’t let them know when you are finished!
i could live off caprese
right outside Obica, the street lights make for a golden hour at 9pm
Pro Tip: There is incredible shopping throughout Florence and you can walk to all of it! Don’t forget luxury pieces are actually less expensive over here 😉
Gucci Garden located in Piazza Della Signoria
shop this outfit below
A museum & shop dedicated to the iconic Italian fashion house
3. We were told one of the best spots for pizza is Fiorino d’Oro in the beautiful Piazza della Repubblica. Also order the hugo spritz- we’re obsessed.
Aperol & Hugo Spritz
Piazza Della Signoria
4. We had the opportunity to experience a private lunch and tour of the Grand Baglioni Hotel and rooftop. If you want complete history and luxury in the same stay this is the place for you. Their terrace rooftop garden B-roof is unlike any other rooftop in Florence. People from all over the world come to see first hand the spectacular panoramic view of the florentine skyline with the Duomo front and center.
We also learned ice coffee is to die for over there, as we had the most incredible pour over ice coffee with raw sugar at the hotel.
Around the corner about a block away from the Grand Hotel Baglioni is the 15th century Dominican church, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
HOTEL: #2 The Westin Excelsior
On the Arno river side of Florence where the Westin Excelsior Hotel stands, is a much different vibe from the city center. Maybe a little slower and you have to walk a little further to get to an area with a lot more shops and restaurants. However, it is very close to the shops at Ponte Vecchio and it is always a must to walk over the bridge and explore Florence from the other side of the river.
outside our room at the Westin
outside seating area at the Westin
our balcony with a view of the Arno to the other side
Westin balcony & breakfast
5. The rooftop restaurant and bar SESTO on Arno at the Westin has one of the best views in Florence, even the locals will tell you that! You don’t have to be staying at the hotel to have access to it so please check it out!
We ventured to the other side of the Arno river, across the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Today the shops at Ponte Vecchio are mostly jewelry stores and art work. I needed to spend more time there; so many stunning gold pieces I couldn’t choose one. Jan met a fabulous artist woman as we had just crossed the bridge and purchased two pieces of her work.
Ponte Vecchio is the bridge in the background
I highly recommend purchasing artwork from these incredible people. SO affordable, easy to travel with and unlike anything you’ll find in the states. It’s so fun to have the pieces hanging in our new home, so many memories from my favorite place.
6. We wandered further down to road and came across Hotel Lungarno. This hotel lines the Arno river from the other side across from the Westin. We had some white wine on their stunning river front terrace.
7. If you want a taste of being a local head across the bridge to an area called Circolo Rondinella del Torrino. There is a small outdoor restaurant where they only speak Italian. In fact, they only serve one or two homemade pasta dishes a night! Makes ordering super easy! This is the most inexpensive meal you will have on your entire trip. At night you can find this restaurant by its string lights lit up on the trees lining the river. We found it one night looking out the windows of the Westin!
I also wanted to mention that we took the train from Rome to Florence then from Florence to Lake Como and never one time had an issue or were stressed out by the train systems. Go to www.italiarail.com to purchase tickets and see destinations and durations. Super easy, promise!
See you in Lake Como!!!