First Time Visitors’ Review on Florence First Time Visitors’ Review on FlorenceFirst Time Visitors’ Review on Florence Florence Gelato First Time Visitors’ Review on FlorenceFirst Time Visitors’ Review on Florence
From Rome, we trained to the next city on our summer Italian adventure – Florence! Julie warned me I was going to love this city and not want to leave…she was spot on. Although we were only able to spend one night here, I wanted to share with y’all a first time visitors’ review on Florence.

Florence is the 3rd ‘major’ city I’ve been to in Italy, so I think that gives me a decent perspective on differences and similarities within the country. You can see content from my previous 8-day trip to Milan in September of 2016, and quick stint in Rome back in 2015.

FIRST IMPRESSION: love Florence! It’s totally different then it’s slightly southern sister, Rome. For starters, people and culture seem more laid back and relaxed. It’s also a lot cleaner around the streets {less trash and graffiti}, paired with the quaintness of bridges, horses and carriages.

WHERE WE STAYED

  • Golden Tower Hotel & Spa | this was the only non-airbnb we booked during the 8-day trip. While I absoltuley love Airbnbs, sometimes it’s nice to have the convenances that only come with a proper hotel {i.e. bellmen, room service, spa amenities, etc}. After all the walking in Rome, I was read-ayyy for some spa service, which is the primary reason we booked Golden Tower. Sadly, we were unaware, their spa is rather small and books up weeks in advance since it’s open to non-hotel guests as well. Nevertheless, Golden Tower was lovely. Not 5-star in my opinion, but the AC worked well, room was clean and tidy {also a GREAT size for European standard – we had a sofa and coffee table in addition to two full/queen size beds}.

WHERE WE ATE

  • Gustapizza | proper thin crust, Italian style wood oven pizza. Paired with house wine – perfection for a quick lunch stop on your way to do some shopping or just further explore the city without a full sit down! So so yummy.
  • Santa Trinita Gelateria | probably the best gelato I’ve had in. my. life. So creamy, so many yummy and unexpected flavors, cute cups – ahhhh I’m dreaming about it as I type. It’s a couple doors down from pizza, so it makes for a great,
  • Se·sto on Arno at the Westin Excelsior | recommended by our hotel concierge, happy hour on the rooftop is just spectacular. The views, not to mention the happy hour special! From 7-9PM the restaurant has a great food spread {veggies, meat skewers, bar nuts, crackers and cheese, etc}, which is complimentary with a purchase of any cocktail. I also came across this great article highlighting other stellar rooftop spots.

THINGS TO KNOW

  • Florence is a very walkable city, so bring some comfy shoes! Expect lots of cobblestones.
  • I love how quiet the city is at sunrise. Like not a soul in sight. Such a lovely time to grab a coffee from your hotel or cafe and just stroll around for a bit. Granted nothing much will be open, but it shows the city in a different light.
  • Shop ’til you drop – literally. The city center of Florence is like 5th avenue in NYC all tightly packed together. Every major {and not so major} fashion, beauty or interior brand you can think of has a storefront in this city. It’s certainly not ‘cheap’ shopping, but a great place to splurge on those designer dubs, or simply do some window shopping.
  • RENTING A CAR from Florence – expect a long, long wait. We opted to rent a car, as opposed to training it to Tuscany, and found ourselves hours off-schedule due to the hold up at the rental car place. Even with a reservation. I’d recommend arriving on-site right when they open {or even a few minutes before}.

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