Okay, I promise this is the last part of our Italy trip recap, but I just couldn’t NOT tell you about Florence! Eric studied abroad in Firenze 17 years ago (yikes!) and has wanted to go back ever since, so this particular part of the trip was very special to him. He just couldn’t wait to show me all the places he went, the apartment building he lived in, and where he went to school. It was especially cool for my mom and me to explore the city with someone who was already familiar with it.
So where do I begin…? Florence is one of the most romantic cities with beautiful restaurants everywhere that beckon you inside with the most delicious food I’ve ever had. It has more gelato shops than I’ve ever seen, each one more decadent looking than the last. You could easily lose track of time just wandering the winding streets of the city (gelato in hand, of course).
Is it kid friendly?
Of the three cities we visited, Florence was the most kid friendly. There are wider streets and sidewalks and it was an extremely walkable city, which is especially good for pushing your toddler in a stroller all day. Aside from taking a cab from the train station with all our luggage, we didn’t have to use public transportation or taxis at all while in Florence.
Like in Rome and the Coast, the people of Florence were so kind, especially towards Olivia and they would even come out of their shops just to give her a piece of candy or say ciao bella! And although dining in Italy is a much s l o w e r affair, every restaurant catered to Olivia and brought her a delicious meal.
Places to eat:
Florence was without a doubt the mecca of Italian food. After eating the pasta in Florence, no pasta has ever or will ever taste as good. And that’s no exaggeration. Every restaurant in Florence was better than the the last and I would (and plan to) go back to Florence just for the food.
Acqua al 2 My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE restaurant in Florence (and in Italy). If you’re there you must try the pasta sampler and the trio of steaks. To. Die. For.
La Giostra This restaurant was super romantic with thousands of twinkling lights all over the ceiling. Every pasta dish here was out of this world.
Antico Noe This is a hole in the wall sandwich shop that you would never even know existed. They have 20+ different kinds of paninis that are all mouth watering and I swear I still crave these sandwiches.
La Buchetta So delicious and the owner was the nicest man that spent time at each table talking to his patrons. Def try the Gnocchi al Angeli e Demoni!
Cinghiale Bianco This was hubby’s favorite restaurant when he was studying abroad and 17 years later the owner and son still remembered him!
Things to do:
Shopping I will say that there’s not much variety when it comes to shopping, unless you’re there to buy something at one of the many designer stores. There’s a ton of leather stores where you can buy bags, luggage, gloves, etc.
See the Ponte Vecchio (and buy some jewelry) The bridge is a historic part of Florence (the current bridge was built in 1345) and is the only bridge that was not destroyed in World War II. Beautiful jewelry stores line the bridge, so if you have a little (and by a little, I mean a lot) of extra money, pick out something nice for yourself! 🙂
Boboli Gardens This was one thing I wanted to do but didn’t because it was SO HOT while we were in Florence that we didn’t think it would be enjoyable for this prego and a toddler.
Piazza San Michelangelo Climbing the bajillion stairs to the top of the piazza is so worth it when you see the gorgeous panoramic views of the city. It’s the perfect photo op!
Mercato Centrale This was one of my favorite places in Florence. The first floor is all shops and vendors selling everything from fresh meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. They also sell great gifts/souvenirs to bring back, like dried pasta, balsamic vinaigrettes, liquor, etc. And then the top floor is this very trendy Italian cafeteria with different stations offering different things like calzones, pizza, chicken, and other delicious things.
Take a cooking class Before going to Florence, my best friend told me that we just had to take a cooking class with Giulia (Juls Kitchen) in Tuscany. I am so glad I listened to her because it was the best part of our entire trip to Italy. I booked with Giulia in advance of going to Florence so we knew we needed to rent a car (you can also hire a driver) to get out to the Tuscan countryside. The class took place at her home about 1.5 hours from Florence.
After an interesting drive through the most winding roads of Tuscany and one toddler puking all over herself, her carseat, and the rental car (I’ll spare you all the gross details, but Olivia was totally fine and puked and rallied), we arrived at the most beautiful villa. It seriously looked like something out of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.
^^Giulia had the sweetest dog, Noah, that Olivia was in love with!
Once we got there, Giulia took us out to her huge garden and we picked vegetables; everything from green beans, egg plants, basil, tomatoes, sage, rosemary, and zucchini. From there, we planned out our menu based on what we had picked: bruschetta, grilled eggplant, pork roast, fresh handmade pasta, and chocolate cake. We cooked everything with Giulia in her kitchen and our reward was the most delicious, home-cooked Italian lunch. I cannot say enough about this experience and if you are ever in the region, you must do a class with her.
^^making fresh pasta is a lot easier than you would think!
^^Giulia, our teacher, and the sweetest woman ever.
^^nothing like pushing a stroller of laundry through Florence.
Where to stay:
We stayed in another AirBnB in Florence (see it HERE) and LOVED it. It was the cutest two bedroom apartment that felt like a little home away from home. The apartment was decorated so cute, had a few toys and games available for Olivia to play with, and they provided a pack n’ play for us. It was on a quiet street close to everything. The hosts were so gracious and helpful and we can’t recommend this place enough.
^^This sweet lady was painting outside the Duomo and heard Olivia say she wanted to paint, so she took her on her lap and helped her paint the sweetest little picture of flowers. We now have it framed in Olivia’s room. One of my favorite memories of Florence!
I definitely left a piece of my heart in Florence and can’t wait to go back again one day. Have you ever been to Florence? What did you think of it? And in case you missed them, here are my posts on the Amalfi Coast + Rome!