As Feliks is an artist full time, it is only natural that we decided to visit Florence, Italy for 4 weeks for him to do some learning about the art history and get inspired by the place where the art renaissance began. Let me tell you, Florence did not disappoint!
After calling Florence home for the last month, we definitely have some recommendations and tips for anyone wanting to visit anytime soon :)
Best Time to Visit: We visited from early October-Late November. The first couple weeks in October were so nice! There were a couple days which had 80 degree weather, but that quickly shifted. Most of our time in Florence had rain and cold weather so we would definitely suggest visiting from May-September. I think that September would be a perfect month to visit because it won't be quite as crowded, although there are always tourists in Florence.
Important Things to Know Before Visiting:
-Bugs: One of the main things that surprised me about Florence was that there were so many mosquitoes! For some reason, I didn't expect that since it isn't a tropical climate. There are tons of mosquitoes, so be sure to either bring your own repellant or pick one up from a pharmacy there.
-Parking: Something else important to know: everyone walks everywhere in Florence, it is very easy to get around by foot in the city or if you plan to go somewhere else the train is very easy to use as well. DO NOT rent a car at all costs if you are staying in Florence. There are fines for everything and it is next to impossible to find a parking spot. The roads are super tiny, and you will be doing yourself a big favor to not have to worry about paying fines on your vacation.
-Taxes: If you plan to make any big purchases in Florence, you can get your money back at the end of your trip for the money you spent on taxes. This doesn't apply to every purchase you make, for example: doesn't apply to receipts from restaurants, taxis, small things. If you purchase something expensive ($500 or more), in order to get your tax money back, you MUST ask the place you bought it from for a form that you will give to the Global Blue desk at the airport and they will give your money back. It also has to be something that you can physically show them you bought.
Place We Stayed: We stayed at an Airbnb right next to the river which had an amazing location in the
Santo Spirito neighborhood with tons of amazing restaurants and shops nearby. We really loved the location, and how bright/spacious the apartment was. What we didn't love is that we found out on the day of our arrival that the water was running super slow, the worst part is that it remained that way for our entire stay. Also, the kitchen is very, very small so we basically ate out for every meal.
Our Favorite Places for Food/Drinks:
Usually, Italians will have a small breakfast then lunch around 12-1 (most restaurants close at 3 PM) then have a late dinner starting around 8-9 PM and sometimes they'll have an aperitivo which is a drink and some snacks like meats and cheeses before dinner.
-S. Forno Bakery: OMG. That's how I would describe this place. We loved everything about it, and the best part is that it was right around the corner from our apartment. We would basically go there every morning and get black coffees (free refills) and some pastries/sandwiches or a yogurt parfait. Their food is incredible, they also sell some local products and overall just a beautiful location.
-Ditta Artiginale (near Pitti Palace): There are actually 2 locations for this coffee shop/breakfast spot. Most people go to the one on the touristy side of the bridge which can get super crowded because of the small location, but we loved the one near Pitti Palace. This location has 2 stories so much more space and just a chill environment with yummy American breakfast/brunch. We would go here whenever we missed our American style breakfasts, it is not common in Italy to eat big breakfasts usually they eat just a espresso with a croissant or small sandwich.
-A Casa Cafe: Yummy breakfast/brunch also with some Italian pastries available for purchase. A mix
between American food options and Italian.
-Le Vespe Cafe: This place has really good American breakfast food options and it's very cheap. That is probably why it is ALWAYS filled with American students studying abroad. It was crowded every single time we went there but it is worth it to enjoy a nice breakfast at a low cost.
Gusta Osteria-Really good authentic Italian cooking. Feliks would always get the meatball, amazing food here!
NapoLeon-This one is hidden in a little corner but everything here is so amazing! We came here multiple times during our stay...the apple cake here is one of our favorite desserts we had.
Vida-Small restaurant near S.Forno bakery. They offer a lot of healthy options; many vegan/vegetarian options but they also have a couple dishes with meat as well. Super fresh and delicious food.
Foody Farm-Good for more Americanized options
There are SO many delicious options for lunch and dinner but these are a few that stood out to us, there's so many food places in Florence and they are top notch!
The Westin Hotel: Incredibly beautiful view overlooking the whole city. Tons of seating and a big space, it is definitely a more fancy vibe if you feel like splurging one night. The cocktails here can be about 18-20 euros but they also have a really nice aperitivo.
La Terrazza Continentale: Another great rooftop bar you should check out. This one is a smaller, cozier vibe and I would say is more chill than fancy. The prices are still higher than a normal bar but you are also paying for the view. This one is slightly cheaper than the one on the Westin Hotel's roof, but also great for aperitivo.
Wine Tasting: While staying in Tuscany, we went on a wine tasting tour and it was so nice! Very authentic and relaxed and we were able to learn a lot about the region, their process of making the wine, and also the different kinds of grapes grown there. This is the exact experience we booked: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/8437?s=67&shared_item_type=2&virality_entry_point=2&sharer_id=265027643
Botanical Gardens: Here there are beautiful gardens outside of the Pitti Palace, nice to explore on a sunny day but there is a fee to enter I think about $20
Uffizi Gallery: This was by far one of our favorite experiences! We learned so much about Florence, how the art renaissance began, about the artists in the gallery and the artists that began their careers in Florence such as Michelangelo, DaVinci, Raphael and Botticelli. I feel like this wouldn't have been as amazing if we had gone by ourselves but the tour we went on was spectacular! Julia taught us so much. Here is the link to the tour: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g187895-d13188114-Uffizi_Gallery_Small_Group_Tour_with_Guide-Florence_Tuscany.html
Dentist: During our travels, I unfortunately had to get my wisdom tooth removed! It was so scary for me to be in a new country and have to have a surgery on my mouth. I was a bit nervous, but the dentist I went to was so kind and did such an amazing and fast job that I didn't even feel a thing. I am so thankful to Studio Dentistico IMI-EDN Firenze and Dr. Fabio for the great work they did. I highly recommend them if you have any dental needs in Florence :) here is their website: https://www.excellencedentalnetwork.com/mdoc/cura-parodontite-firenze
Frame Shop: Feliks painted a large painting and wanted to have it framed by an original frame shop in Florence and we were so happy to find LAC La Corniceria Firenze! Max did such a beautiful job with our frame and we couldn't be happier. The best part is that their prices are very reasonable! Here is their website for more info: http://www.lacorniceria.it/
Art Supplies: There was an art store right near where we were staying! It was the best one we found in Florence with art supplies similar to what you could find at Michael's in the U.S. it is called: Cartoleria Lory and here is their website for more details http://www.lory.net/
Hair Salon: During our time in Italy, we also needed to get hair cuts, which can be a bit scary when someone speaks another language than you and you're trying to explain how you'd like your hair cut. No need to worry AT ALL if you come to FABIO COLUCCI The House of Hair. We were both so happy with how our hair turned out, they are very professional and highly recommend them :) here is their website: http://www.fabiocolucci.com/
Well, these are Feliks and I's favorite places/recommendations in Florence. We hope that you have an amazing time on your trip and that these pointers could be helpful to you!
Have you been to Florence? Comment any other recommendations below :)