19
Apr

Destination Diary – Florence

Posted By Trav

Florence-Destination-Diary

While Rome and Venice may get all the publicity for things like culture and canals, Florence, with it’s amazing food, gelato, and architecture, is the Italian city that has truly stolen our hearts.

When a city has Heather’s favorite thing to eat (ever!), some of Trav’s favorite gelato, and one of the most amazing pieces of art they’ve ever laid their eyes on…it’s hard to go wrong!

So have a listen, and then start packing your bags, because Florence is one city you MUST go to.

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What are your favorite spots in Florence? Let us know @PackofPeanuts!

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Places to Eat:

  • All’Antico Vinao – Quite simply the best sandwiches, and possibly the best food, in the entire world.  Couple that with a 2€ self serve wine bar and there’s not much reason to go anywhere else…ever.
  • Trattoria Mario – An old school trattoria that’s a local fave (and now a tourist one too).  But don’t worry, you still get the authentic feel and some of the best ribollita you’ll ever taste.
  • Finisterre – Right on Santa Croce plaza, this place is open late and has great pizzas for only 6-10€.  You can’t go wrong with anything, but their calabra (white pizza with peppers and sausage) is insanely good.
  • La Maremma – Another joint right on Santa Croce plaza – and few steps up from Finisterre – this place has 8€ pastas and 3€ wines.  Heather was a fan of the eggplant parm.
  • Vini e Vecchi Sapori – An bit more upscale and hard to get a reservation, this restaurant is many people’s favorite in Florence.  For us, it was just decent, but it’s great for a date night…and maybe we just had an off night?
  • Trattoria La Torre (Siena) – Located in a tower, this is a great place to go for groups.  Above average food, cool architecture, and a good vibe.
  • Il Merendero (Lucca) – No, it’s certainly not as good as All’Antico Vinao (nothing is) but if you’re in Lucca and craving a sandwich, head here for friendly owners and huge sandwiches for only 5€.
  • De Cervesia (Lucca) – Looking for craft beer in Lucca?  This is the place to go.  Great selection, great vibe, great people.

Gelato:

(ranked in order of best to not as best…because gelato can never be considered bad!)

  • Gelateria de Neri – If you can only have one gelato experience in Florence (the horrors!), this is the place to go.  It’s been called by some experts (me) as the best gelato in the world.  Plus, it’s right by All’Antico, which makes it the perfect sandwich-gelato bang bang.
  • La Carraia – If Gelateria de Neri is #1, this place is 1B.  It’s incredible.  And with two outposts (one on each side of the bridge), you’ll never be that far away!
  • Gelateria Santa Trinita – A small step down from Neri and La Carraia, in any other city this place would reign supreme.  It’s well worth going and trying for yourself, especially because it’s right near Ponte Vecchio.
  • Il Procopia – The last of the “must go” gelato places in Florence, this local favorite is worth the trip for the pistachio alone!
  • Vivoli – It gets a lot of publicity, but for me, it was just ok.  If you want to try all the places for yourself (and why wouldn’t you) then head here.  But not at the expense of anywhere above.
  • Perche No – They’ve got inventive flavors, good marketing, and lots of name recognition.  The gelato itself is decent.  But in this town, decent doesn’t cut it.
  • Gelateria Carabe – Supposedly “Sicilian” style gelato, this place was overpriced, unfriendly, and probably our least favorite in terms of taste.  Worth a trip?  Sure, if you’re at the Accademia.  But I wouldn’t go out of your way.

Accommodations

Activities:

  • Marvel at the Accademia – It’s fairly small, hard to find, a little off the beaten path and the best thing you can do Florence.  The statue of David is one of the most impressive things…in the world.  An absolute must.
  • Climb the Duomo…and then climb the Bell Tower – Two of the most beautiful buildings in Florence (and maybe the world), the view from the top is even better.  Yes, it’s even worth the 463 stairs (Duomo) and the 414 stairs (Bell Tower)!
  • Stroll through the Uffizi – One of Europe’s most visited museums for a reason, the Uffizi is a place you can stroll through quickly or spend a whole day in.
  • Take a food walking tour – Yes, it’s fun to find places on your own, but with so many incredible places to eat, it’s that much more fun with a local guide.  Plus, who else is going to take you to an enoteca to drink wine at 9am?  We recommend either Walks of Italy or Eating Italy.
  • Hang out in Santa Croce Square – Our favorite piazza in Florence, it’s got a lively vibe, great church and the people watching is unparalleled.
  • Shop the San Lorenzo (Central) Market – Meats, cheeses, and knock off handbags galore.  There’s not much better than hanging out in a real, functioning Italian market.
  • Walk over the Ponte Vecchio – It’s mostly jewelry stores that line this famous bridge, so unless you’re trying to drop thousands of dollars, it’s most likely not worth buying anything.  But it is worth strolling across and then getting some iconic shots of the bridge during sunset.
  • Take the 1:30 hour trip to Lucca or Siena – Both quintessential Tuscan towns with gorgeous architecture and great food.  Each is possible in a day trip, but if they’re running the Palio de Siena (horse race) while you’re there, head to Siena for an incredible spectacle.

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2 comments

  1. Matt says:

    Hi Trav and Heather, Thanks for all that you do on sharing your travel expertise and experiences. Do you have any recommendations for Florence craft beer venues? My wife and I are heading over there for the first time. I work in the US brewery scene and would love to check out what Florence has to offer!

    1. Trav says:

      @Matt- Unfortunately, when we were there we were not the craft beer snobs you know and love today. So we are just as in the dark as you are about it. But…let us know what you find out. We’ll be heading back soon and want good beer!

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