An Insider’s Guide to Florence

Now that I have been studying and living in Florence for over two months, and have had the opportunity to show multiple groups of friends and family around the city, I would like to consider myself a bit of an expert on what there is to see, do, and most importantly eat when spending either a few hours or a few days here.  I know I could spend decades living in this beautiful city and still not explore every one of its corners, but I definitely have the basics down.

Top Three Sites in Florence:

  1. The Duomo: Located in the heart of the city center of Florence, the Duomo can’t be missed!  It is a gigantic, gorgeous green and white church that whose red dome has become a symbol of Florence.  For 18 euro, you can access all of the museums that make up the complex, the Baptistry, and climb to the top, which consists of a very narrow and steep staircase of almost 500 steps, but also packs one of the most beautiful 360-degree views of the entire city.IMG_7792
  2. Michelangelo’s Statue of David: An absolutely iconic work of art, the statue of David is a must-see when visiting Florence.  The precision and beauty achieved by famous sculptor Michelangelo is literally jaw-dropping, and can appreciated by everyone in the entire world.IMG_9144
  3. Piazzale Michelangelo: All it takes to see one of the most iconic panoramic views of the city of Florence is a steep, difficult, 20-minute climb up a road at the edge of the city.  After losing your breath just ascending to the hilltop, you’ll immediately lose it again once you look out over the edge of the wall and see the entire cityscape right in front of your eyes.  Tip: Go during the late afternoon and watch the sunset!

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Honorable mentions for some of the greatest and most important things to see in Florence include the Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, and Mercato Centrale.

In terms of eating great food, Florence just can’t be beat.  When one thinks of Italian cuisine, four particular items come to mind: pizza, pasta, paninis, and gelato.  Over the course of my time here, I have been fortunate enough to have more than my fair share of each of these foods.  Listed below are the top places, in my opinion, for these four food items.

Pizza: GustaPizza

GustaPizza is arguably the most famous pizza location in the entire city of Florence, known for its heart-shaped pizzas that are baked fresh in a brick oven moments after ordering from the cashier.

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Pasta: Caffe Pitti

Caffe Pitti is a beautiful, cozy restaurant located across the street from the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, and is known for its menu that has many dishes that all feature truffle.  The best pasta I have ever tasted was from here, and was a burrata-filled ravioli with a truffle sauce.

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Paninis (Sandwiches): SandwiChic

SandwiChic is a hole-in-the-wall panini shop that serves incredibly fresh ingredients on some of the best toasted bread I have had in Florence.  They have a variety of meats, cheeses, and spreads at very reasonable prices, so everyone will find a favorite.  When I ran into Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson in Florence, she said SandwiChic was her favorite as well!

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Gelato: Gelateria dei Neri

Every person you meet in Florence says a different gelato spot is the best in the city, but I can’t find one that tops dei Neri.  My favorite flavor is their rice pudding gelato, which has a unique texture and seems to not be served anywhere else!

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I hope that if you ever find yourself in Florence, whether it is only for a few hours, or for an entire semester, that you’ll make use of some of my suggestions!

Ciao for now!

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