Why go? Less expensive than you’d think and compact and easy to get around where it counts, Florence is your gateway to Renaissance wonders and all that romantic Tuscany has to offer.
Best ideas: Once you’ve gotten your fill of the historic art, go to Palazzo Strozzi for the contemporary Tuscan art on display, followed by the Gucci Garden and a bite at San Lorenzo Market before embarking on a sunset wine cruise.
Good to know: Reserve your tickets to choice attractions in advance, and beware both the tourist hordes and the tourist traps.
There’s never a question of what to do in Florence. Rather, it’s a question of how much and when. With its varied selection of museums, galleries, boutiques, and storied sites, this amazing Tuscan town has something for everyone, from contemporary art buffs and super foodies to sports fans and serious shoppers. To experience the city to its fullest, you only need to step out into the street. Here’s our guide to a unique honeymoon experience far from the overcrowded tourist traps of Florence.
In This Article
Traveling & Getting Around in Florence
The best time to visit Florence is between May and September, when warm weather ushers in art and music festivals, open-air dining and all the perks of the Italian lifestyle you dream of experiencing. There are also advantages to visiting in the shoulder or off season, which runs from November to March, like lower prices and smaller crowds.
The easiest way to get here is to fly to Florence Airport or to Pisa International Airport, located 62 miles west of Tuscany’s capital. Delta Airlines is the only carrier offering nonstop flights between the U.S. and Tuscany — note that this service is only available during the summer and otherwise, there are no direct flights from anywhere in the U.S. to Florence or Pisa. Lufthansa offers connecting flights to Florence from Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., while Air Berlin and Alitalia offer connecting flights from New York.
Most travelers arrive in Florence by train. This is the Tuscany region’s rail hub, with regular connections to all of Italy’s major cities. To get here from Rome or Milan, take a high-speed Frecciarossa or Frecciargento train (90 minutes) or a high-speed train operated by Italo. Trains run from Venice via Padua and Bologna, as well as from Fiumicino Airport in Rome.
Honeymooning in Florence: Pros & Cons
- The historic center of Florence is pretty compact and walkable. Otherwise, a 15-minute bus ride gets you to Piazzale Michelangelo for incredible postcard views of the city.
- Many visitors are afraid to visit Florence because they expect high prices. While accommodation isn’t the lowest, food can be affordable if you avoid the typical tourist traps, like eating next to Piazza del Duomo or Ponte Vecchio.
- Most things in Florence are free or cost between $7–$10 (6–10 euros).
- Florence is always full of foreigners, short-term visitors, or exchange students so the ration of locals to travelers is rather low.
- The lines are absolutely awful, and without pre-booked tickets, you’ll spend ages standing in line, instead of enjoying your visit.
Best Attractions & Activities in Florence
Do a Walking Tour of FlorencePiazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
One way to skip the long lines for the Uffizi Gallery is to enjoy a guided walking tour. This allows you to see all the main attractions, including Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Vecchio; admire the exterior of the magnificent Duomo; see Giotto’s Campanile; and skip the long lines at the Uffizi Gallery by showing your voucher on your smart phone or tablet.
Known as the Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is a city of unforgettable elegance. During the tour, you’ll get to marvel at some of Florence’s best-known treasures, stroll through handsome squares and see impressive monuments around every corner. You will visit Ponte Vecchio and learn all the facts and secrets of 2,000 years of Florentine history. Your tour ends with a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, home to one of the most important art collections in the world. Your guide will explain works by some of the greatest artists from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, such as Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian, among others. Afterwards, you can remain on your own in the museum until closing time. Tours take 3.5 hours, with prices from $70 per person. (Photo of Ponte Vecchio in Florence by Photos by Clark)
Tour the Duomo CathedralVia Camillo Cavour, 13, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
This two-hour guided tour of the Duomo in Florence includes access to Brunelleschi’s cupola and red-tiled dome, allowing you to skip the long lines with an exclusive pass. Follow your guide inside the ancient cathedral of Florence, where you can admire frescoes by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, the colossal clock by Paolo Uccello, and discover the beauty of the marble floor with its intricate patterns. Walk among the ruins and admire the floor’s fine polychromatic mosaic with its geometrical decorations, then climb the northern terrace of the Duomo’s rooftop and crawl through narrow and open air corridors that have been closed to the public for centuries. There you can enjoy an incredible panorama that will take your breath away. End your tour with an exclusive visit to a circular room full of old statues that used to adorn the Duomo’s façade. See restoration in action as craftsmen work with their spatulas and chisels, still dirty and smelling of stucco. The tour is about $70 per person. (Photo by Olivia Cheung)
Sunset Sightseeing Tour and Wine TastingOltrarno, 50125 Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
This guided walking tour offers the chance to visit the city’s Oltrarno district, admire the traditional architecture of the city, and soak up the atmosphere of this traditional area. Enjoy fine Chianti wines accompanied by crostoni (Italian appetizers) prepared especially for you. The tour takes about two hours and costs $55 per person. (Photo by Tavallai)
Palazzo StrozziPiazza degli Strozzi, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Palazzo Strozzi, located right in the heart of the city, is the best place in Florence to see contemporary art and traveling international exhibitions. It’s ever-changing and always has interesting artists like Bill Viola and Peggy Guggenheim. The 15th-century Renaissance mansion, originally built for and by Filippo Strozzi, one of the Medici’s major political and commercial rivals, today houses seasonal, nonpermanent exhibits. This museum is less crowded than others in Florence but it’s still a cultural institution with an impressive roster of concerts, events, talks, workshops, and theatrical performances that draws a crowd of in-the-know aesthetes. Check the website to see what’s happening during your trip.
Strozzi Café is open to gallery visitors and passersby alike, serves coffee, cocktails, and pasta in an atmospheric, Wi-Fi-enabled setting. The large menu ranges from antipasti starters and pastas to fish and burgers; it’s also perfect for a coffee and pastry. (Photo courtesy of Palazzo Strozzi)
Gucci GardenPiazza della Signoria, 10, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele is always pushing the limits, and this time he blurs the lines between monument and merchant at Gucci Garden, an interactive complex where fashion, food, history, and art mingle. Located in the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia in Florence’s Piazza Signoria, Gucci Garden is Michele’s colorful journey through the Florentine fashion house’s past, present, and future. The multilevel boutique-slash-museum includes a store selling exclusive Gucci Garden designs, a gallery space with contemporary exhibitions, and a ground-floor restaurant by rockstar chef Massimo Bottura. (Photo courtesy of Gucci Garden)
San Lorenzo MarketMercato Centrale, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Take the time to visit one of the closed food markets in the center of Florence. San Lorenzo Market is the largest, oldest, and full of that real Florentine feel. Smell, see, and touch the freshest products, and above all, taste whatever catches your attention. The first floor of Mercato Centrale (San Lorenzo’s market in Italian) now hosts high quality bars, restaurants, and cafés so you can eat, have a drink, and relax. The other closed food market you should check out is Sant’Ambrogio Market, in the Sant’Ambrogio area of Florence. (Photo courtesy of Labaro Viola)
Medici ChapelsPiazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 6, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
The Medici Chapels are two beautiful chapels in the historic Basilica of San Lorenzo, which set the stage for the Renaissance. They’re a great stop if you’re short on time, a Michelangelo buff, or want to feel like a Medici prince or princess, even for just an hour. The site more than lives up to the hype; in fact, many people find the chapels truly mind-blowing. They’ll make you want to delve even further into the history of the Medici family and Michelangelo. Tickets, which cost about $10 (9 euros) and can be booked online or in person, are required. (Photo courtesy of dvdbramhall)
Piazzale MichelangeloPiazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazzale Michelangelo, with its magnificent panoramic views of the city, is located in the Oltrarno district and is probably the most famous square in Florence. The view from this observation point is justly famous and has been reproduced on countless postcards and snapshots over the years. To get there you could walk the tiny streets of the San Niccolò neighborhood, drive, or hop on the number 12 or 13 bus from the city center. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy the most incredible view — and the best spot for your own iconic Instagram pic! (Photo courtesy of Peter Stenzel)
Giardino BardiniCosta S. Giorgio, 2, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Grand in design but intimate in scale, Giardino Bardini has a pergola-covered stairwell leading up to the Belvedere panoramic terrace. Know that ascending requires a slight effort as the stairs are shallow and long. It’s the perfect pitstop if you’re sick of traipsing around museums, since the garden doesn’t present anything all that urgent to do other than the obvious: stop and smell the flowers. (Photo courtesy of Giardino Bardini)
AquaFlor FirenzeBorgo Santa Croce, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The yesteryear atelier is one of those beautiful finds that make you feel like you’re actively involved in creating not just a scent but Florentine history, as you sniff through the unparalleled collection of raw materials, essential oils and scents. With the help of Nicola Bianchi, the nose of AquaFlor Firenze, you’re led through olfactory discovery to create a perfume that’s personalized just for you. (Photo courtesy of AquaFlor Firenze)
Craft Cocktail and Aperitivo TourPiazza della Repubblica, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
This craft cocktail and aperitivo tour of Florence kicks off at a given meeting point in Piazza della Repubblica or Via dei Tornabuoni. The custom tours are private or with a small group and traverse the city on foot. Reservations are required, but you can book as late as 24 hours in advance. Private tours are customized to your preferences — say, a particular liquor or cocktail — while group tours offer a good overview of drinking and dining in Florence. Coral Sisk, the tour company founder, is a sommelier with a degree in Italian literature and language and a concentration in food studies. She’s extraordinarily passionate and well versed in Florentine history, art, culture, and gastronomy. (Photo courtesy of Curious Appetite)
Best Hotels, Resorts & Airbnbs in Florence
Portrait FirenzeLungarno degli Acciaiuoli, 4, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
An exceptional hotel with a centralissima location and a discreetly luxurious atmosphere, Portrait Firenze’s sleek and sophisticated design will appeal to style hounds, while the space in the suites and the in-room kitchens make it an attractive choice for families, too. The city’s biggest sights — Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, the Duomo and the Bargello Museum — are all within a 10-minutes walk, the chic shops of Via Tornabuoni are meters from the front door, and the Bohemian attractions of the Oltrarno district are just across the river. Shoe fanatics should not miss the fabulous collection at the Museo Ferragamo just around the corner. Rates start from around $430 a night. (Photo courtesy of Portrait Firenze)
Villa CoraViale Machiavelli, 18, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
A fantasy world of immaculately restored luxury, Villa Cora is an outstanding hotel offering superb facilities, impeccable service, and a best-of-both-worlds location. The lovely garden and pool are a calm, cool refuge after a hot, sticky day in central Florence. Set in rose-filled gardens above the wide, tree-lined avenue that winds its way up the hill from Porta Romana (the southern gate into the old city), Villa Cora enjoys a wonderful spot. When the mercury rises in the summer months, it is noticeably cooler up here than in the city center, yet you are only a 15-minute walk (or a quick hop on the shuttle bus) from Ponte Vecchio. Piazzale Michelangelo, a classic viewpoint over the city, is a 10-minute walk uphill and just above that lies the superb Romanesque church of San Miniato. Rooms from $300 a night. (Photo courtesy of Villa Cora)
The St Regis FlorencePiazza Ognissanti, 1, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
A hotel in the grand style, The St Regis Florence offers a wonderful location on the north bank of the Arno River, professional yet very pleasant five-star service, and all the luxuries you would expect from the brand. Its Michelin-starred restaurant is an added bonus. Sufficiently removed from the worst of the crowds, yet within easy reach of the main shopping district and many major sights and attractions, the hotel enjoys the best of both worlds, and the wide sweep of the river from the front rooms offers a real feeling of space. Double rooms start at $450 (400 euros) in the low season and from $775 (700 euros) in the high season, including breakfast and Wi-Fi. (Photo courtesy of The St Regis Florence)
The Four Seasons Hotel FirenzeBorgo Pinti, 99, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Florence’s most lavish hotel is housed in a magnificent Renaissance palazzo and set in 11 acres of mature gardens. Well-removed from the tourist hordes, it offers superb resort facilities and the sort of polished service you would expect from the Four Seasons brand. The hotel is set just within the busy, northeastern stretch of the viali, the avenues that circle Old Florence, just a 15-minute walk from the Duomo. This will be a drawback for some, but in the summertime when the crowds are at their very worst, the 11-acre garden is a blessedly cool retreat after a long, hot day of sightseeing. A complimentary shuttle bus runs between the hotel and the city center. The Church of Santa Croce is within a 10-minute walk, as is the colorful Sant’Ambrogio market. Under-the-radar sights nearby include the atmospheric English Cemetery, the final resting place of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, with its crucifixion fresco by Perugino (both a five-minute walk away). Classic double rooms start from $385 (350 euros) in low season and from $830 (750 euros) in the high season. Breakfast is an extra $55 (47 euros). (Photo courtesy of The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze)
Ad AstraVia del Campuccio, 53, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Inspired by the concept of a Parisian hotel particulier, this boutique hotel has the feel of an aristocratic private apartment and is set in the largest private garden intra moenia (between walls) in Europe. It’s a mere stroll away from the buzzing nightlife, great restaurants, bars, and hip independent boutiques of the boho-chic Oltrarno district south of the river. That’s some location. Double rooms start at $155 (140 euros) in the low season and from $320 (287 euros) in the high season. Breakfast is included, and there’s free Wi-Fi. (Photo courtesy of Ad Astra)
Hotel BrunelleschiPiazza Sant'Elisabetta, 3, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Occupying a storybook stone tower and medieval church built over ancient Roman baths, Hotel Brunelleschi simply oozes history. Since its stylish refurbishment in 2012, it’s become one of the finest boutique hotels in the center of Florence. The hotel’s entrance is in a secluded square, around which chic wine bars jostle with traditional Florentine street-food stalls. It’s a charming area of artisan jewelers, leather smiths, and little shops selling handcrafted books and paper. The 19th-century rear wing of the hotel runs along Via dei Calzaiuoli, the main pedestrianized north-south drag, lined with cafés, designer and chain stores as well as traditional outfitters, an ever-popular place for shopping and the evening passeggiata. Sumptuous style comes with a sumptuous price tag. Double rooms start at $330 (299 euros) in the low season and from $620 (559 euros) in the high season. Suites are available from $1,075 (969 euros) in low season and from $1,365 (1,229 euros) in high season. (Photo courtesy of Hotel Brunelleschi)
Palazzo di CamuglianoVia del Moro, 15, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
If the idea of sampling life in a grand palazzo appeals to you, this hotel is an ideal choice. With its plethora of original features and air of discreet luxury, Palazzo di Camugliano is well placed for visiting the sights yet feels removed from the worst of the crowds. The lovely hanging garden is a delightful surprise. Double rooms start from $275 (250 euros) in low season and from $400 (360 euros) in high season. Prices include breakfast and Wi-Fi. (Photo courtesy of Palazzo di Camugliano)
ContinentaleVicolo dell'Oro, 6r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Continentale is the most playfully chic of Ferragamo’s Florence hotels, attracting fans of contemporary design, fashionistas, and young couples on a romantic break or honeymoon. Its Ponte Vecchio location, small spa, and spectacular rooftop bar are big draws, perfect unless you object to having hordes of tourists on your doorstep. That said, efficient double glazing insulates everything nicely. The hotel practically sits on top of the Ponte Vecchio; from here the Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Signoria, Duomo, and Pitti Palace are all within a few minutes’ walk and the boho-chic Oltrarno district is just over the river. Chi-chi Via Tornabuoni, with its designer boutiques, is a block away. Expect to pay $225 a night and up. (Photo courtesy of Continentale)
Villa Le PiazzoleVia Gherardo Silvani, 149, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
This gracious Renaissance villa, set in Italian gardens and vineyards, is the ideal choice if you want to combine a cultural break in Florence with the serenity of the Tuscan hills. After a day’s sightseeing, soak in the views from its tranquil swimming pool. Rooms from $80 (70 euros) per night. (Photo courtesy of Villa Le Piazzole)
SoprArno SuitesVia Maggio, 35, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
A stylish guesthouse with a spot-on retro vibe and a wonderful location in the hip Oltrarno district with reasonable prices, SoprArno Suites will appeal to independent travelers and fans of vintage design. Cultural attractions including Pitti Palace and Ponte Vecchio are at your doorstep. It’s very much a guesthouse rather than hotel, so don’t expect 24-hour room service and a night porter. What you will get instead, however, is very personalized service from a small team led by Leonardo and Alberto with plenty of input from the owners, too. They are all passionate about showing visitors the very best of this neighborhood and the rest of the city, so any restaurant, shopping, and entertainment suggestions come from the heart. There are several communal living spaces supplied with books and magazines, and guests have use of the first floor kitchen and its honesty bar. Double rooms start at $145 (130 euros) in the low season and $275 (250 euros) in the high season, including breakfast. (Photo courtesy of SoprArno Suites)
Best Restaurants & Bars in Florence
Taverna del BronzinoVia delle Ruote, 27R, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
Taverna del Bronzino has made a name for itself by being one of the most interesting and delicious spots to sit and enjoy a meal. Serving up a surprising and varied selection of fish dishes like black tea-marinated tuna with creamed radishes, your mouth will water and you’ll leave perfectly satisfied. After an overhaul of staff and the introduction of a new chef, this restaurant has made positive changes over the past few years to cater to a new demographic of diner. What has resulted is a memorable meal unlike any other in the city and a wonderful environment where you can sit back and relax the right away. Expect a meal before drinks to run you about $60. (Photo courtesy of Taverna del Bronzino)
Il Borro Tuscan BistroLungarno degli Acciaiuoli, 80r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
The Tuscan bistro comes to life from a dream of the Ferragamo family, that dream called Il Borro. The origins of the village of Il Borro are lost in the history of medieval Tuscany, a thousand-year history that saw illustrious families like the Pazzi, the Medici, Tornaquinci, and Savoy. Surrounded by the scenic ancient Via dei Sette Ponti, an area rich in art and culture among the main Tuscan cities of Florence, Arezzo, and Siena, the Borro is an unspoiled oasis where everything has its own past, where every corner has a story to tell. It means tradition, but not only. In Il Borro runs a strong desire for innovation that puts this historic place in perfect harmony between what was and what will be. You might, for example, start dinner with Zolfini beans from Pratomagno in a soup with bread roasted with house oil and garlic. Prices run from moderate to fairly high. (Photo courtesy of Il Borro Tuscan Bistro)
Gucci OsteriaPiazza della Signoria, 10, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Inside the oh-so-glamorous Gucci Garden, amid pea-green walls on the ground floor of Palazzo della Mercanzia, three-Michelin-star-winning chef Massimo Bottura oversees a menu that mixes iconic Italian dishes like tortellini in Parmesan sauce with innovative twists on international favorites, such as hotdog made with Tuscan Chianina beef. Tasting menus cost between $80 (70 euros) and $100 (90 euros) and diners get free admission to the fashion house’s museum. (Photo courtesy of Gucci Osteria)
Il LatiniVia dei Palchetti, 6R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Around the tables of Il Latini, friendships are interwoven, all the world’s languages are spoken, fervent discussions are held, and everyone tastes food that has the flavor of the old times past. The kitchen is the place where the products of the country are transformed into the dishes typical of the Tuscan tradition, with simple and genuine ingredients still characteristic of the restaurant. It’s known for its giant steaks, served with spinach and potatoes. Expect to pay about $50 (45 euros) each. (Photo courtesy of Il Latini)
Osteria De' PazziVia dei Lavatoi, 3/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Pazzi means “crazy” in Italian, and it’s also the name of the chapel in nearby Santa Croce. Osteria de’Pazzi is one those indescribable local spots whose staff and decor bubble over with personality. The kitschy look is reminiscent of Grandma’s house, but with Pixar figurines hanging from the ceiling and walls plastered with scenes from calcio storico — a rough sport similar to soccer and rugby dating back to the 16th century that gets played each June on a sand-covered field nearby. The food here is simple Tuscan, and the wine selection is more than decent — ask for Marco, the sommelier, if he’s working. Pazzi is one of the traditionalists in town whipping up excellent Tuscan basics like fagioli all’uccelletto (white beans cooked in tomatoes and sage). Plus, it’s one of the rare Florentine osterias where you can find a variety of Tuscan-specific pastas. The thick spaghetti-like pici con le briciole (fried breadcrumbs) is a must-order. Also try the thick charred bistecca and gourmet takes on a tagliata sirloin topped with lardo and crispy rosemary. Prices are moderate to fairly high. (Photo courtesy of thais_indalecio)
Da Burde FirenzeVia Pistoiese, 154, 50145 Firenze FI, Italy
Outside the historic center, Da Burde is one of the city’s finest family-run institutions for traditional Florentine food. Currently led by the youngest generation of the Burde ownership, the trattoria has an atmosphere that’s both Old World wine bar and homey banquet, where sincere family recipes are earnestly prepared from scratch. The trek to Da Burde is worth it for diners in search of true Florentine relics, passed-down specialties like minestrone, meatballs, chickpea farinata, and grilled meats, all with incredible wines to match. Expect to pay between $22 (20 euros) and $45 (40 euros) apiece. (Photo courtesy of Da Burde)
Trattoria SabatinoVia Pisana, 2/R, 50143 Firenze FI, Italy
Timeless restaurants like this make Florence special: Sabatino’s is a family-run, blue-collar joint that hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1956. Pasta dishes at this walk-in-only trattoria hover at a humble $5 (4.50 euros), while meaty mains like roast chicken clock in at a mere $6 (5.50 euros). Its simple homestyle cooking and bargain prices are a testament to Italy’s all-inclusive food culture: You don’t need to be well-off to eat well here. (Photo courtesy of Trattoria Sabatino)
PopCafèPiazza Santo Spirito, 18/R, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
PopCafè is one of the best places to chill and have a good beer. Friendly staff, good music, and a nice selection of beers make this an inexpensive go-to place in the Santo Spirito area, and a perfect choice for a veggie aperitivo and massive salads. (Photo courtesy of PopCafè)
L'Antico TrippaioPiazza de Cimatori, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
While Florentines debate about which is the best lampredotto stand, Marco Bolognese’s L’Antico Trippaio in Piazza Beccaria stands out. Lampredotto (made from cow stomach) is classically cooked in a savory broth and served chopped, stuffed in bread, and topped with a green herb and chili sauce, but this stand has more options for curious eaters. Here, the dish is cooked in a notable range of sauces for the panini filling: artichoke or olives and tomato; beans and sausage; chard; and random “exotic” organs like ovaries, uterus, and tongue,. Most go for under $11 (10 euros). (Photo courtesy of L’Antico Trippaio)
CiblèoVia Andrea del Verrocchio, 2r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Chef Fabio Picchi is the city’s undisputed culinary icon. This is Picchi’s latest, in the same area as his other Cibrèo restaurants. Ciblèo specializes in Tuscan-Asian fusion; think dumplings filled with hyperlocal Tuscan-sourced Casentino pork and Mugello chicken; tripe salad with soy sauce; and Italian mussels with agretti, lemon wasabi, and black pepper. There are only 20 seats and the menu is a timed, surprise spectacle of countless tapas portions at a reasonable fixed price, $55 (50 euros). Reservations are a must. (Photo courtesy of Ciblèo)
Dolci e DolcezzePiazza Cesare Beccaria, 8/R, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
On the lip of Sant’Ambrogio in Piazza Beccaria, you’ll find the fanciest hole-in-the-wall pastry shop in the historic center. The decor is like being in a ballroom boutique, with teal old-school coloring, and classic ceramic and glassware. The attention to detail is immense, down to the handwritten cursive signage. This spot is loved by the city for its dedication to artisanal raw ingredients such as Valrhona cacao for its flourless chocolate cake and cherry-picked figs and forest fragoline (wild strawberries) from the local markets for its miniature seasonal-fruit tartlets. In addition to sweet creativity, the cafe procures Florentine classics like puff pastry sfoglia and budino di riso (rice pudding in shortbread crust). It’s tiny inside, with a few tables at the curb of the piazza’s parking lot and bus stand, but what you trade for location you are rewarded for with insane deliciousness. There’s also an espresso machine in what appears to be a closet, but within it is specialty coffee from Cafe Piansa, an institutional craft roaster. This is the ideal place for Italian breakfast, and if you insist on having a cornetto and cappuccino, Dolci e Dolcezze does them properly. It’s not cheap, though. Expect to pay at least $4 (3.50 euros) per piece. (Photo courtesy of F Fanau)
My SugarVia de' Ginori, 49/red, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Florence’s gelato cred has held up in the face of an onslaught of tourist-trap shops with mountains of artificially produced gelato thanks to the veteran makers who have been crafting exceptional scoops for decades. However, one of the newer gelato masters is a noteworthy example of the younger generation bravely carrying the torch in the city considered to be the birthplace of gelato. Run by a husband and wife duo, My Sugar meticulously churns out classic flavors like bittersweet chocolate and Bronte pistachio, seasonal fruit like kid-approved strawberry and watermelon, and more worldly flavors including black sesame, green tea, pure peanut, and dark chocolate spiked with local Chianti. It’ll cost you $3 to $5 (2.50 to 4.50 euros) per cone. (Photo courtesy of My Sugar)
While Florence doesn’t seem like a place that would be full of rooftop bars, it has a few great ones that offer a different experience far from the crowds. Here are some of my favorites for an unforgettable aperitivo with a view.
Grand Hotel CavourVia del Proconsolo, 3, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Grand Hotel Cavour sits in the Duomo neighborhood with the associated incredible views, but you’ll be paying more than average for the backdrop. (Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel Cavour)
Grand Hotel MinervaPiazza di Santa Maria Novella, 16, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
This breathtaking rooftop pool bar also serves snacks. (Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel Minerva)
SE·STO on ArnoPiazza Ognissanti, 3, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
SE·STO on Arno at The Westin Excelsior, Firenze, is a restaurant and bar that also has dishes from $27.50 to $45 (25 euros to 40 euros). (Photo courtesy of SE·STO)
To put it plainly: Florence is a magical place. The energy is alive yet relaxed, the air is buzzing with creativity, and there is beauty everywhere you look. It’s the perfect place to celebrate love.