Recommendations for Florence, Italy
September 29, 2022 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I'll be travelling to Florence for work next week - I'm looking for recommendations for things to see, places to eat, best coffee/gelato, local markets or shops etc.

I am arriving this coming Sunday afternoon and flying out early the following Saturday morning (5-6 days in total). I'll have Sunday evening, all day monday and a couple of evenings free.

I'll be mostly on foot - my hotel is right next to the Giardino della Fortezza, so quite central I think.

I'm not really interested in suggestions of day trips (I've been to Sienna already) since I don't have a lot of time and want to make the most of Florence in the little spare time I have. I'll probably have the best chance of sight seeing on Monday, but I understand a lot of museums and places are closed Monday so if you have specific suggestions of places open on Monday that would be great!

I also want to pick up some gifts for family members (including my daughter who is turning 8 the week after the trip) so if there are any items (special to Florence or Italy) I should be seeking out, let me know.

posted by piyushnz to Travel & Transportation around Florence, Italy (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I love wondering the Uffizi whenever I'm there.

Lines for il Duomo can get very long, so if you're going to do that, go as early as possible.

There's a nice, accessible Eataly not far from il Duomo.

The tiny glove shop near the Ponte Vecchio is exquisite and very much worth a splurge.

Trattoria Zà Zà was a bit touristy but the food was good and the atmosphere was fun!
posted by missmobtown at 10:55 AM on September 29, 2022

Mondays are hard in Italy, as most national museums are closed.
You could go to one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe, the Santa Maria Novella, they are open on Monday, and it’s free to enter.
This site has a comprehensive list of Monday openings. Not to be missed, IMO, is the Duomo, and the Museo del Duomo.
Ditta Artiginale has excellent coffee, and three locations.
Across the bridge from the Duomo is the San Frediano neighborhood, where you can still find the odd artisan working away at a lost art. S Forno is an awesome bakery in that neighborhood.
Also in San Frediano are two great gelaterie - Gelateria la Carraia, and Gelateria Santa Trinità. Neither of them use any artificial ingredients, and the flavors are imaginative, and top notch.
For a taste of working class food, check our Leonardo’s, near the Duomo. It’s up a flight of stairs, and serves cafeteria style, but the food is very good, and quite cheap. Try to snag a booth by a window, the people watching is great!
posted by dbmcd at 11:30 AM on September 29, 2022

Yes to Eataly. Note the Eataly in Rome is a disappointment but the one in Florence is really outstanding.
posted by happy_cat at 11:30 AM on September 29, 2022

Santa Croce is open on Monday, but closed on Tuesday for the feast of St. Francis. It also stops letting people in after 5pm.
posted by soelo at 11:40 AM on September 29, 2022

I have to add:
The open air market at Piazza Santo Spirito is great - they are open every day, but close around 4, with different vendors every Sunday.
Also, at the Mecato Centrale, skip the overpriced food upstairs, and head straight to Da Nerbone, and get a porchetta sandwich. You can thank me later. I crave one now, just thinking about it.
posted by dbmcd at 11:41 AM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I lived in Florence for a year back in 1992 and Antico Noe consistently had the best sandwiches I had or have ever eaten. Looks like they're still up and running!
posted by tangosnail at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was in Italy probably 10 years ago or more but my friend recommended Vivoli for gelato. I remember it being a cut above the average corner gelato place at the time with some unique flavors offered.

This is an outside the box recommendation but before we went to Italy I had recently played the video game Assassin’s Creed II, which is set in renaissance Florence among other places. I remember thinking it was really cool to see that bridge or that cathedral from the game. I don’t know if you have the ability or desire to try to plow through it in the week before you go, but I thought I’d mention it because I think it did positively impact my trip.

And climbing the Duomo is totally worth it.
posted by cali59 at 12:11 PM on September 29, 2022

Second the Mercato Centrale! It's 10 minutes walk from your hotel. Bring home a jar of Millefiori honey. (well, try the local honeys at the honey shop and see what you like best. My partner preferred the castagna (chestnut), I think the Millefiori is so unlike what we get as 'honey' to be it's own special thing)

And if you go out for dinner, make sure to order a vin santo for desert.
posted by cfraenkel at 12:32 PM on September 29, 2022

If you or your family are into sewing, there are several beautiful fabric shops: Valli was my favorite. It’s spendy but not like designer spendy; for that, go here.

Yes to central market and the similar shops on the periphery.
posted by queseyo at 2:36 PM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Near the Uffizi is a great sandwich shop my cousin recommended when I went in 2017 with the comment "life-changing". I don't know that I'd go that far, but my panini at INO was very, very good. Pretty extensive menu and plenty of vegetarian options.

I also took a fun and delicious pasta making class from Chef Vary while in Florence. Quickly checking a few evenings next week, it does look like there are spots available if that's something you'd be interested in. The location was just over the river and easily walkable.
posted by thatquietgirl at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2022

Glass and mosaics are really wonderful in Italy. I got a tiny black glass scorpion I still have as a treasure. Also, a micro mosaic pin of flowers. A bunch of tiny fruits made of marble. A lovely deep ocean blue hand knit sweater from the market. A vase of beautiful oxidized glass that made it all the way back to California in tact.
posted by effluvia at 6:34 PM on September 29, 2022

Best answer: If, like me, you end up a bit tired of museums and other tourists after a while, the best thing we did was decide at the last minute to take a hike in the countryside. The bus to Fiesole takes only 15-20 minutes, and you can walk up Monte Ceceri, where (supposedly) da Vinci tested his flying machines! Gorgeous view of the city, and one of my favorite memories of all time. We used this guide from a now defunct blog. Here's a more recent guide.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 7:08 PM on September 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

We were just there in March.

All Antica Vinaio on the very touristy Via dei Neri-best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.

And this pizza and gelato class was probably the single best thing we did in Italy-can’t recommend highly enough.
posted by purenitrous at 7:52 PM on September 29, 2022

I spent one day in Florence in June 2019 and it’s all a blur, so I’m no expert, but here are a few recommendations:
• In the morning we went to the Boboli Gardens (it’s open on Mondays). It’s located a bit higher than the city, so it affords some beautiful views. It’s a bit of a hike to get through the garden, but well worth it.
• From the Gardens it was a short walk to the Ponte Vecchio – but it was jam packed in June, peak tourist season. It might be less crowded in October and you should be able to find some unique gifts there.
• From there we went to the Uffizi Gallery, which, as you said, is closed on Mondays. They close at 6:30 pm on other days, but if you’re able to go there please please please check out the room with Botticelli’s panel of the Seven Virtues (amazing) and, of course, the Birth of Venus (which literally moved me to tears). There’s a café on the roof of the Uffizi – I didn’t buy anything to eat there, so I can’t speak to the food, but I was able to take some amazing photos of the cathedral.
• I picked up some lovely soap gifts at the Santa Maria Novella shop (this might be the same one recommended by dbmcd). It may be more expensive than you want to spend on an 8 year old but it was a beautiful shop.
• From there it’s a short walk to the Ponte Santa Trinita (where you’ll have a great view of the Ponte Vecchio) and as soon as you cross the bridge you’ll be at the gelateria referenced above by dbmcd. I still dream about the orange and chocolate gelato I got there and if I ever go to Florence again, this gelato shop will definitely be on my agenda.
posted by kbar1 at 10:12 PM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was in Italy this summer, but only in Florence for a day. I was also there ~15 years ago.

This summer I had a delicious meal at Parione.

There are a lot of nice leather goods in Florence. You could do some research in advance if you want to find something in particular. I wandered into a shop that made small leather goods (wallets, passport covers, journals) and would emboss initials in them. They make nice gifts and are affordable.

As far as museums: if you have not seen Michelangelo's David, I would highly recommend the Accademia Gallery for that (there's other art there obviously, but the David is its main attraction). I am not particularly knowledgeable or into art, but it was really stunning and left a lasting impression from my first visit, so much so that I wanted to see it on my second visit, despite not being into crowded museums. I think it is closed Mondays, but if you can get in for a late afternoon another day, I think it's worth it.
posted by kochenta at 10:57 PM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Seconding the already mentioned Ditta Artigianale for good coffee and pastries or even a small lunch. For dinner I recommend Cibreo - they have a Ristorante which is pricier but I tried the Trattoria and it's not as pricy and servers delicious food and wine.
posted by bitteschoen at 1:00 AM on September 30, 2022

As far as museums: if you have not seen Michelangelo's David, I would highly recommend the Accademia Gallery for that (there's other art there obviously, but the David is its main attraction). I am not particularly knowledgeable or into art, but it was really stunning and left a lasting impression from my first visit, so much so that I wanted to see it on my second visit, despite not being into crowded museums. I think it is closed Mondays, but if you can get in for a late afternoon another day, I think it's worth it.

I just want to second this in an emphatic way, because being in the presence of the David was the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever had. I am not exaggerating. If you haven't seen the David yet and can make time for it (looks like last entry is 6:20pm on the days it's open), you absolutely should.

We were in Florence more than a decade ago at this point, but I thought the bollito a L'Antico Trippaio was great (but try the lampredotto if you're into tripe). Likewise gelato at Gelateria dei Neri and Grom, although now you can get Grom all over the world I suppose.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:51 AM on September 30, 2022

Another restaurant recommendation, just remembered, a place I tried just a few months ago and was very happy with: Osteria La Vinaina, very friendly and laid back atmosphere, really good food
posted by bitteschoen at 5:30 AM on September 30, 2022

Il Santino is a wonderful little wine bar and one of my favorite places in the world.
posted by Gadarene at 6:12 AM on September 30, 2022

Response by poster: Quick update - I just got back from the trip and had a wonderful time. I tried the Boboli gardens on the Monday but it was actually closed so we instead ended up just walking back through town via the Ponte Vecchio, which was lovely. I also managed to see Santa Croce, the Uffizi and the Mercato Centrale. One of the highlights of the trip was Fiesole. Despite a nasty ear infection (that I'm still battling) I managed to make it up to see where Leonardo reputedly launched his student to test his flying machine. I didn't make it to anyone's recommended restaurants, but honestly, I didn't have a bad meal anywhere. Some restaurant highlights were:
Pizzeria Spera
Trattoria 13 Gobbi
Fuoco Matto

Thanks all for the recommendations!
posted by piyushnz at 4:41 PM on October 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

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