24 Hours in Florence, Italy
I’m currently traveling through Europe with my husband for six weeks as a way to kick off 2016. We’re visiting some of our old favorite cities and some new cities, but we decided to start our journey by flying into my favorite city, Florence.
I love Florence like some people love air. If someone looked at me and said, “You have 24 hours left in your life, so what would you like to do?” Without missing a beat, I’d demand to be flown to Florence, Italy before the clock started. The city is home to an incredibly vibrant Italian culture with amazing food, art, and historic sites for visitors to experience. It seems, though, that a lot of people only pass through Florence on their way to and from Venice and Rome. That’s okay. I have thought it through for everyone and put together a guide for 24 hours in Florence. Hitting these spots will ensure that you see some of the best things Florence has to offer you.
A One-Day Itinerary for Florence, Italy
Caffe Rivoire, Piazza della Signoria
In 1872, the chocolate maker to the royal house of Savoy opened Caffe Rivoire, and they’re still making his famous cioccolate in tazza (hot chocolate!) across from Palazzo Vecchio. You can also enjoy a caffe (espresso, not coffe) or a cappuccino.
Tip 1: Drink your coffee or hot chocolate at the bar instead of at a table. You’ll feel more Italian, and save a good bit of money.
Tip 2: Don’t order a cappuccino after 11:00. The Italians do not drink milk-based beverages after the morning hours.
Uffizi, Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6
Home to some of the world’s greatest art, the Uffizi is a wonderful way to spend a few hours in Florence. The Galleria dell’Accademia houses the famous David, but the Uffizi holds Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and more.
Make sure you walk across Ponte Vecchio on your way to or from the Uffizi. It was the only bridge left standing after Hitler bombed Florence during World War II, and it is now one of the most iconic bridges in the world!
Gusta Pizza, Via Maggio, 46R
After hours of walking around the Uffizi, you’ve earned some pizza. There’s a small hole-in-the-wall place across the Arno River known as Gusta Pizza. Look for the heart shaped light above the side door, order the margherita pizza and a bottle of house wine, and enjoy some of the best pizza Florence has to offer.
La Carraia Gelato, Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25R
There are quite a few gelato places in Florence – yay Italians! – but the best, by far, is La Carraia. I know this because I ate gelato multiple times a day for six months in 2011. I’ve really done the necessary research to know these sorts of things. Just a short walk from Gusta Pizza, La Carraia has amazing gelato and you can get a small cone for a single euro. You heard me.
Duomo, Piazza del Duomo
You can’t go to Florence and not see the famous Florence Cathedral. Entrance is free and you might catch a glimpse of a church service. The area around the Duomo is wonderful for exploring, but beware: often times, the closer you are to a tourist attraction, the more likely you are to overpay for a less authentic espresso or meal.
Piazzale Michelangelo, Up a really large hill
There isn’t an actual address for Piazzale Michelangelo, but you’ll be able to follow the signs or Google maps directions easily! This is the spot for the best view of the entire city. Grab a bottle of wine or some bread and cheese, make your way up the (very many) steps to the top of the Florentine world, and enjoy an evening sunset.
Quatro Leoni, Via de’ Vellutini, 1R
Wait until 20:30 or 21:00, but then head on over to Quatro Leoni for dinner. It’s a small trattoria, hidden in a piazza, with the most incredible atmosphere. Again, the house wine is delicious, and a perfect choice for dinner. Close your eyes and randomly point at an appetizer; you cannot pick a wrong option. As for your first plate, you must order the pear and asparagus ravioli. It is a specialty, and out of this world. For your second plate, go with the Florentine steak. If you have room for dessert, an espresso and the cheesecake with fruit will blow your mind.
L’Art Bar, Via del Moro, 4R
I’d make my final stop at L’Art Bar late in the evening. The bartender may be 100 years old and it may take 45 minutes to get your drink, but it will be the time of your life. First, the bar snacks on the table are popcorn, peanuts, and pretzels. It’s the best combination of salty snacks. Second, that bartender is a man of gold. He’s been bartending for years and he believes his cocktails are works of art. Third, they are works of art! Go with the fruit mojito and you will be in awe of the cascading fruit on the side of your glass. Happy hour is from 18:00-21:00, but you can definitely enjoy this Florentine gem late into the night.
There you have it: my very favorite places in Florence. Have any of you ever been to Florence? What would you add to my list?
Autumn is an international wedding photographer and current graduate student with a knack for using both to travel the world. She enjoys roaming the streets of new cities, eating vegetables, and hoping people show up late so she can continue with the book(s) in her bag. Her favorite place to be is sipping a cappuccino across from her handsome husband in any place that isn’t home. Although, she likes home, too.