Say the word Italy and my brain immediately goes to food. 48 hours in Florence meant I had just two days to consume all the pasta and pizza possible. Oh and maybe do a bit of sightseeing as well.
Florence blew me away. And I mean that both figuratively and literally – the wind was crazy strong while we were there! But winds aside I ended up liking the city a whole lot more than I thought I would.
Despite only hearing good things about Italy in general, I had this idea that it would be too busy and too touristy for me to properly enjoy. And while yes, it was incredibly busy and full of tourists, it didn’t take away from the beauty, and incredible food, Florence has to offer.
We started the day the way I wish all days could start, with a trip to a bakery. Our bakery of choice was Vecchio Forno in the city centre, and I highly recommend it for a quick bite to eat.
From there we headed to Basilica di San Lorenzo which was the meeting point for our free walking tour.
I’ve said it about a million times before and I’ll say it again, I frigging love free walking tours.
But I was even more thankful than usual that we decided to do one in Florence because I discovered I knew absolutely nothing about the city. I knew about Michelangelo’s David and the Duomo but if you’d of said the word Medici to me I wouldn’t have had a clue.
Florence has such a rich history that I had no idea about. If you’re visiting I would definitely try to find out as much as you can.
Because Italy is so familiar to us it becomes easy to fool ourselves into thinking there’s nothing beyond what we’ve heard. It’s why it’s important to go there and discover for yourself what is and isn’t true.
Following a suggestion from the lovely Gemma & Campbell at Highlands 2 Hammocks, we chose this walking tour. However, a quick google brings up lots of different ones if you feel the one we did isn’t right for you.
The walking tour covered everything from the world famous Duomo and Ponte Vecchio to hidden gems like the House of Dante Alighieri.
There’s an incredible amount to see in Florence.
Other absolute must-sees that you can’t miss are; Piazza di San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria including the statue of David built there, the Palazzo Pitti and the Piazza Santo Spirito.
Everything mentioned above is in central Florence and can easily be seen during your own wanders if you really don’t like walking tours.
Since the tour finished in Piazza Santo Spirito we decided to grab a coffee and rest our feet in a little cafe on the square. At home I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but where better to start than in Italy!
From there we took a slow wander back towards our hostel. Of course, it took twice as long because I couldn’t stop taking photos! But in my defence, Florence is seriously picturesque.
We also took a bit longer because we just had to stop for gelato. If you don’t have at least a gelato a day in Italy you’re doing it wrong.
For our first gelato stop in Florence, we headed to La Strega Nocciola which was recommended by my lovely sister. This tiny little gelateria, just minutes from the Duomo offers, what I’m certain is, the best gelato in the city.
The gelato cost €3.20 for two scoops, each a different flavor. I opted for a nutella-esque flavor as well as blood orange. The blood orange was by far the best and Mark has regretted not getting it ever since…
We opted for a more chilled afternoon at the hostel.
We were staying at PLUS hostel, Florence. I decided to take full advantage of the rooftop terrace to get some blogging admin done. As well as a bit of reading in the afternoon sun.
Dinner was definitely more flashpacker than backpacker so maybe skip this one if you’re on a strict budget.
I do however believe in treating yourself every now again and it shouldn’t be any different while you’re travelling.
On another recommendation from my sister, we headed to Osteria Santo Spirito in Piazza Santo Spirito.
The restaurant itself is tiny so I would recommend booking if you do want to go. That being said, we lucked out and managed to get a table outside even though we just turned up without booking. So I guess you could just go and see what happens.
Mark decided to well and truly throw the budget out the window and treated himself to 1Kg of Florentine steak costing €38! Although, even as someone who doesn’t eat steak, it definitely looked worthy of the cost. And in a pretty impressive feat, he did actually manage to eat it all which probably speaks for itself!
I went with something a bit more money friendly but equally, if not more, delicious. My choice was gnocchi with cheese and truffle oil for €11. Honestly, I think it was the best thing I ate during our whole trip, not just in Florence!
We then finished our evening with a few drinks as we made our way back to our hostel.
The second morning of our 48 hours in Florence didn’t go quite how I’d planned.
Before we’d even left the hostel Mark managed to smash his phone screen. So the first order of the day was to get that fixed.
We did, however, manage to fit in a trip to the San Lorenzo Market while we were waiting.
The Market is made up of the Mercato Centrale, the indoor part home to all things food, and the outdoor part home to everything leather as well as clothing and souvenirs.
As much as I love wandering around souvenir shops the real draw was the inside food market, particularly the upstairs food court.
The food court offers everything from traditional Italian pizza and pasta to sushi and even Chinese offerings. As well as a bar offering coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol. And, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without somewhere to get gelato.
Our plan was to do a bit of shopping first, work up an appetite, before heading inside for some lunch.
If you’re hoping to take away an authentic Italian souvenir then the market is the place to be. Whether you’re wanting to spend €80 on a real Florentine leather jacket or €8 on a new scarf to fit into your Italian surroundings. Don’t expect the classic souvenir shop tat but clothes and accessories you’ll get a lot of use out of.
It’s also the perfect place to practice your haggling. As a reserved Englishman, if I can manage a bit of haggling, anyone can!
We then had a quick wander around the downstairs food market and then headed upstairs for all the food possible.
Enticed by the smell of freshly baked bread we opted for something from the bakery. We went with savoury pizza style slices. The slices came with a range of toppings from your usual pepperoni to other more adventurous choices. They were priced at €2.50 per 100g so a really budget-friendly option. I also grabbed a coffee from the bar for €1.50.
The food court in Mercato Centrale would probably be my number one, budget-friendly recommendation in Florence. They open every day from 8 to midnight, meaning you can grab a coffee and croissant in the morning and head back for pizza and Aperol in the evening.
Once Mark had finally got his phone back, it was time to tick off the last thing on my Florence to-do list, a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo.
This is the place to go for the best views of the city.
It took us about 40 mins from the Duomo to walk there and although not the worst climb I’ve ever done it is pretty steep. It’s quite a pretty walk, though. Taking you over the Ponte Vecchio, along the river and through some of the quieter streets of Florence.
The views from the top are incredible and more than worth the walk. Just have a look at some of the pictures if you don’t believe me!
We spent our last few hours in Florence enjoy all the best things Italy has to offer…
That is we consumed as much pizza, gelato, and Aperol as possible before our 48 hours in Florence came to an end.
I loved my little taste of Italy more than I thought I would. Of course, part of it was down to the food, but the city has so much more to offer including so much history I had no idea even existed!
Our 48 hours in Florence were better than I could have asked for despite some crazy strong winds and an even crazier amount of tourist!
It’s definitely kick-started a love-affair with the country and I can’t wait to visit more of Italy’s famous cities.
All my love,