Well hello lovie!
Florence was absolutely beautiful but for some reason, I could NOT get my bearings and was eternally getting lost! I had been here 20 years earlier but that didn’t seem to help. The benefit of getting lost was that I got to admire the striking architecture, discover tucked away boutiques and give my legs a real workout on the cobblestone streets. Florence for me was a city of contrasts. Beautiful from the exterior but I felt the people were a bit cold. It’s the first city on this trip where I haven’t left going – wow I’m going to keep in touch with so and so because they were awesome! Despite this, I still had a beautiful stay and I based myself away from the tourist area (notice a theme here) in the Oltrarno quarter on the ‘other’ side of the Arno river. It’s got an artsy/bohemium feel and it was still only a 10 minute walk to the main area of Florence. So, here’s my tips.
I had two great spots I’d head to for breakfast. One was S.forno Panificio which had the most delicious pastries and a rustic, country chic fit out. The other spot I discovered as I was needing to eat more like I do at home so luckily I found Carduccio around the corner from my apartment. It also had a cottage/cute fit out and offered organic/raw food so I put some nutrients back into my body!
I found the most A-MAZ-ING gelato place and have just realised I gobbled it down daily and was clearly so ‘in the moment’ I didn’t take any pics! Regardless, you can find the best cheesecake gelato at Gelateria Santa Trinita – you’re welcome.
Finally, I had one of the top rated dishes on my trip at Osteria Santo Spirito. I still don’t know how I managed a table as it’s always booked out and random people I spoke to on my trip wistfully spoke about the ‘famous blue cheese gnocchi with truffle oil dish’ and yes, I had it and yes, this is a half portion and yes, it is fabulous! If you’re going to go, I would highly recommend making a reservation – I think the food gods were looking down on me this time.
Florence is where I got my shopping mojo into overdrive! It’s all about leather here – obvs! The thing about me is that I
obsess over, adore accessories. My theory is that jewellery and handbags are investments as no matter how much weight I put on or lose, they will always fit! So, there were two particular designers I was keen to delve into, but found so many more along the way.
I first spoke of Angela Caputi in my Milan post, but Florence is her home town and she has a bigger shop! Let’s just say I’ll be rocking long, statement earrings for some time to come…..
I was also anxious/excited to meet Clara (who was delightful) who owns Digerolamo as she believes in ‘slow fashion’. Her bags are unique, handmade pieces of the highest quality and I seriously could’ve bought the whole shop! I did ask and yes, she ships to Australia……….xmas present anyone?
Just explore. You can do museums, cathedrals, monuments, galleries – whatever gets you excited! I just wandered and looked around me – up at the glorious buildings and down at the ornate pavements.
See what’s on as there’s always a festival of some kind. I particularly wanted to visit the Exhibition of International Crafts which was huge! Entire buildings dedicated to artisans showing off specific themes – environmental, vintage, hand craft, indoor/outdoor, health & beauty…the list goes on. I came away with a plan for my perfect ‘forever’ kitchen 🙂
I finally succumbed (mainly because my legs were sore) and got on the hop on/hop off tourist bus and bloody hell it gave me the best surprise! Of course it did the usual tour around Florence and up to the fabulous view of Piazza Michelangelo, but there was a second connecting bus ride which wound up and around the beautiful villas outside of Florence. I ended up a Fiesole, a famous Etruscan town surrounded by beautiful views, cypress trees and olive groves. Stunning!
As I mentioned earlier, I chose to stay in the Oltrarno quarter. I was able to walk to the main train station from here – about 20 mins and I was right near the beautiful Pitti Palace. It wasn’t filled with thousands of tourists and I really felt I was hanging with locals which I much prefer, whilst dodging all the scooters on the street! My airbnb accom was described as a charming loft by the Ponte Vecchio and it was. On the top floor with a cute view across the terracotta tiled rooftops, church bells ringing and a bit of a vintage/country chic fit out. I was inspired by the timber flooring, white couch and the dark oil painting above it #decorgoals
Would I come back to Florence again? Absolutely! If only for the leather goods and unusual designers/artisans. Also, did I tell you how good the blue cheese gnocchi with truffle oil is???
Be fabulous xx