In Italy there’s so much to see and do. If you’re here for only a short time it will be hard to take in la grande bellezza in a whirlwind visit of the big three: Rome, Florence and Venice. When in Italy it would be a sin skipping Sicily, Naples and the Amalfi Coast… So it may be better to seek the help of a local who can design a time-saving itinerary of your desired destination.
Our 48-hour weekend guides can come in handy for exactly that. Today’s installment will bring you to the go-to spots in Florence to eat local food, drink great wine and see beautiful art and architecture within a short time. Ideally you’d need to spend a week (or month) to fully grasp the city, but you can get a feel for this Renaissance gem in a weekend. Here we go!
From Rome: The quickest way to get to Florence if you’re coming from outside Italy is via Rome’s Fiumicino airport. After landing, get on a train to reach Rome’s central Termini station (30 minutes), then hop on a fast FrecciaRossa or Italo train to Santa Maria Novella station and you’re in the heart of Florence an hour and a half later. If you’re already in Italy check the train schedules online as you can find the perfect solution to get to Florence with a number of daily connections.
10:00 To Market, To Market
Drop your bags off and check in to your room at Gourmet B&B Villa Landucci. The owner, Debora, will give you directions to the Sant’Ambrogio market. Gilda’s Bistrot is a cozy spot that also has great food. It’s right across from the farmer’s market, always jumping with action in the morning. Have a quick cappuccino and cornetto (Italian croissant) then go into the market to experience the Florence food scene full on.
12:00 Lunch, Tuscan-Style
After having perused all the vendors (including the butchers that sell the legendary Chianina beef) if you want to stay in the market and eat, go to Trattoria Da Rocco, which has good, reasonably-priced food in a very simple but convivial environment. If only a snack is in order, just go back across the street on Piazza Ghiberti for a glass of Chianti wine, a panino or some crostini at Semel.
3:00 Time to Stop for Beauty
The magnificent Franciscan Basilica di Santa Croce is not far from the market and after having eaten well, it will inspire you with its gorgeous art and architecture. You can be awed by frescoes from the master painter Giotto or just sit and take in all the beauty in a quiet moment to yourself.
7:30 Dinner is Served
One of the most notable restaurants in Florence is Ristorante Cibrèo. Owner Fabio Picchi is almost always around checking that all is well. If your budget is tighter go across the street to his Caffè Cibrèo, or to the more informal Trattoria Cibrèo next door, aka Cibrèino, whose menu features traditional Tuscan cooking like polenta, ribollita, pappa al pomodoro and collo di pollo ripieno (stuffed chicken neck), polpette (meatballs), game and salsicce con fagioli all’uccelletto (sausage and beans). Tip: Get there early, the trattoria does not take reservations.
10:00 Art, Art and more Art
A visit to the Uffizi Gallery is a must. Masterpieces of Renaissance art are there to be enjoyed and remembered forever. Make sure you book online. This experience––think Botticelli, Coreggio, Raphael––seen first hand will never be forgotten.
12:30 Coffee & lunch
At Ditta Artiginale you will have one of the best espressos of your life, but also consider feasting on one of their great sandwiches, salads, or daily specials like the amazing blinis with sour cream, swordfish, arugula and apple. Brunch is served daily between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and in the evening they host a fantastic cocktail hour specializing in craft gins.
3:00 A climb up the breathtaking Duomo
Brunelleschi’s dome dominates the Florentine vista. Called the Duomo though the church’s official name is Santa Maria del Fiore, it’s a late Gothic, early Renaissance construction. The famous dome is made from clay bricks from nearby, a spectacular piece of architecture that also gives you an amazing view of the city.
5:00 Michelangelo’s David
Head to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see this masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture. There is a copy of the sculpture outside Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria, Florence’s town hall, but go see the original at the museum. Walk down the corridor that leads to the main room and also admire Michelangelo’s “prisoners”, beautiful human figures emerging from unsculpted marble blocks. These are classic examples of this artist’s habitual sculpting practice, referred to as “non-compiuti” (incomplete), which portrays the difficulty of carving out the figure from a block of marble and is equally emblematic of the struggle of man freeing his spirit from matter.
7:00 Time for an Aperitivo
Head to the best wine bar in Florence, Le Volpi e L’Uva for an aperitivo in the hippest neighborhood of the city. Here you can enjoy a fantastic selection of wines paired with crostoni, vegetarian options, cheese and cured meat grazing boards plus finger sandwiches. The service is warm and friendly. If you’re still hungry, stay there for dinner.
8:00 Breakfast Tuscan Style
Head to Konnubio, which is a cool, high-quality restaurant where you can eat before heading out to your last museum visit before the journey back home or to your next destination. There’s a buffet with brioche, fruit, coffee and more. Delicious!
10:00 Palazzo Pitti Museum
Before catching your train get a last glimpse of the artistic richness of Florence. You’ll see Titian, Raphael, Rubens and more… Breathtaking art in a gorgeous setting thanks to the epic Florentine family, the Medici.