Confession time: When I first visited Florence, I wasn’t impressed. To be fair, I was also 21 and had very little appreciation for history or art.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing the Duomo made my eyes big + shiny, and my jaw definitely dropped. Back then, though, I just didn’t think it was “authentic” enough.
It was full of tourists and students, and I craved an Italy that felt more untouched.
Over the years, though, Florence has grown me, and hosting our first Not Your Typical Tourist Retreat there in September 2017 really sealed the deal for me.
Now, I really enjoy Florence, and I look forward to going back every year to host more language immersion retreats, make new friends, and revisit old ones.
Plus, it’s fun to have a weird mix of Romanisms and Florentinisms in my language repertoire.
I know many of you love Florence too, so that’s why I thought it would be fun to list my, Rachel’s, Carlotta’s favorite places to visit in the city.
We’d love to hear about yours, too!
Rachel’s Favorite Places
I love to visit the gardens — Bardini or Boboli. On a nice day, or when the seasons are changing, it’s an escape from the busses, motorini, pollution and crowds. Truly a great hideaway in Florence, it feels like you’re no longer in the middle of a bustling city.
Bonus: There’s a free rose garden below piazzale Michelangelo that I love, but it’s small and gets crowded quickly.
This neighborhood of Florence is authentic and bustling. There are tons of boutiques, interesting restaurants (fish, tapas, burgers, you name it!), and it still feels very Italian. The cloisters next to to the church house a sculpture of Michelangelo’s from when he was just 18!
Carlotta’s Favorite Places
San Lorenzo Market
One of my favorite place in Florence is San Lorenzo market. Here you can still find the real spirit of the Florentine people: exuberant, loud and real to the limit of holiness.
Also, with this bunch of indigenous people you’ll find yourself in a wonderland of tastes and treats from veggies and lampredotto to amazing cheeses and local preparations!
Piazza della Passera
My corner of peace is Piazza della Passera, just behind the crowded Piazza Pitti. T
here’s a tiny plot where I really feel “home”. Little wine sellers and artisans’ botteghe surround the whole square, and give it a totally magical look.
Cher’s Favorite Places
Standing in front of the Birth of Venus in the Uffizi
When I stood in front of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, I was blown away. (Pun TOTALLY intended.) I had been in countless beautiful churches and had passed what felt like hundreds of works of art that month, but standing in front of that painting reminded me of the sensation I get when I finish a long hike and take in the scenery from above.
That moment reinvigorated a sense of wonder in me and a greater appreciation for Italian art and history.
Walking across Ponte Santa Trinità
Even though this bridge is often filled with tourists taking selfies with the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge in the background, it’s still one of my favorite places.
I love the statues on the bridge (that represent the four seasons), the fact that I can see the Ponte Vecchio, and that it connects to the gorgeous Via de’ Tornabuoni, the street where you can find many luxury brand shops.
Cocktail party fact: According to a couple of articles, the bridge you see now is not the original. It’s been destroyed a bunch of times. The first time it was built using wood in 1252 and then the most recent reconstruction was done in 1958.
What about you? Where’s your favorite place in Florence?