Hey guys! I'm back with another segment from our Italy travels. This post is on Florence, and the beautiful Tuscany region in Italy. Keep reading for some juicy tips and see what we got up to last year in Italy!
Beautiful Tuscany & night time view of Florence
We stayed in an Airbnb in Florence for the four nights we were there. Although it was quite far away from the main attractions (about 20 minute walk), it was in a really quiet area, with a coffee shop closeby, and a market closeby as well (10 minute walk). Although we enjoyed the area, we wouldn't necessarily recommend this particular Airbnb, as there were some maintenance issues, but the apartment did have a lot of amenities (including a closet shower, haha!) and a full kitchen & washing machine.
Inside the Pitti Palace
We did have the chance to visit a hotel winery in Tuscany, and while it was quite far away from main attractions and Florence itself, the view and area is beautiful. The hotel looks droolworthy, with a pool looking out onto the grapevines and the hills rolling across the Chianti region. If you are planning to go to Italy and want a break from all the 'touristing', I would definitely recommend checking out La Presura, just as a getaway for one or two nights. They do provide free shuttles to Florence as well, just FYI.
We walked everywhere in Florence. We have never walked in another city more. Probably because our airbnb was so far away, but oh well. Florence is a city that does have quite a number of attractions, but they are all spread out across the city. Not to mention Tuscany is also worth visiting but also quite far away from the city by public transport.
The architecture of Florence buildings are amazing!
We visited a winery in Tuscany and used the bus to get there. It was not included in our Eurail pass (read more about the Eurail pass here), so we had to buy bus tickets to get us to the winery. It was easy enough to buy the tickets, but when it comes to identifying the bus, it was slightly more difficult given the language barrier. Luckily, our winery tour guides were quick to help with getting on the right bus for the trip.
Can you believe those Tuscany views?
Places to see
As mentioned above, we visited a winery in Tuscany, called La Presura, through an Airbnb experience. It was actually a last minute booking, but we really wanted to see Tuscany while we were in Florence, so we decided to make the trip as the experience looked easy enough to get to without a car. The experience (winery tour, olive oil and wine tasting) was incredible! It was so amazing to see the process of winemaking in the infamous Chianti region, and taste the beautiful liqueur. Paired with the olive oil that is also made on site, the experience was more than what we expected, and we highly, highly recommend this one if you are in Florence and have a day to spare.
Back in Florence, we visited all the major monuments, particularly the Uffizi Gallery, Vecchio Palace, Pitti Palace, Ponte Vecchio Bridge (it was absolutely packed!), the Boboli Gardens, and in front of the Florence Cathedral. We didn't get a chance to go inside the iconic red dome of the Florence Cathedral, but did get to see the view of it from Piazzale Michelangelo with the beautiful night lights.
The magnificent view of Florence at night time, from Piazzale Michelangelo
We also visited the nearby Sant'Ambrogio Market one morning (much less intense than Mercato Centrale), and browsed through lots of vintage and second hand knick knacks and bought some amazing pasta and pesto to cook dinner back in our Airbnb.
Rummaging through vintage stalls at Sant'Ambrogio Market
We would have also loved to visit some of the provincial towns in Tuscany, including the natural hot springs, adjacent Sienna, Lucca and Livorno, but we ran out of time for one and also the public transport did deter us from travelling so far. We did look into renting a car, but it was quite last minute and we didn't prepare an international license before we left, so I would recommend to hire a car ahead of time if you are going to stay in Florence and would like to see more of the adjacent towns in Tuscany.
Famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge full of jewellery shops
Places to eat
We highly recommend going to All'Antico Vinaio to try their famous sandwiches. I absolutely loved this meal (they were so worth the wait!) and the aptly named specials really inspired us to watch Inferno, haha!
Left - Venchi | Right - All'Antico Vinaio
I mentioned one of my top 2 meals in Italy in our previous post on Milan & Pisa... and this here takes the #1 spot for my best meal, ladies and gents. This, right here, is a a humble takeaway margarita pizza from an amazing Florentine pizzeria- Il Pizzaiuolo. We ordered the Salsiccia and Tiramisu, and oh good lord, this is what pizzas are meant to taste like. I swear, it is the most beautiful mixture of dough, cheese, and melting-in-your-mouth flavourtown. I can't fault it one bit! We actually got these delivered to our Airbnb on Deliveroo quite late at night, after napping from a long day of walking. Best decision ever!
Left - Il Pizzaiuolo | Right - Perché no!...
Okay, so I have mentioned Alex (my fiance) loves gelato and ice cream in general. So during our trip in Italy, you guessed it, we had lots and lots of gelato. After trying dozens of gelato cones throughout the trip, I can confidently say Perché no!... Gelateria has to be my favourite, hands down. Pistachio is always my go-to, and occasionally if I feel hungry, an extra scoop of tiramisu, and oh boy these guys get both of those flavours spot on. They are also on the lighter side, closer to an authentic gelato (air whipped with a lighter consistency) than an ice cream (creamy, heavy butter consistency) - which you'll find in most of their exquisite flavours. Venchi is also a popular spot for gelato, although we find them on the more expensive side (and almost always a long waiting line).
We did soo much shopping in Florence! Probably because it was towards the end of our trip and we wanted to splurge a little (and buy a few presents here and there), so the majority of our budget was for miscellaneous shopping & spending. Here's our budget breakdown for the four nights we spent in Florence & Tuscany:
Food: €200 (we did eat out about 60% of the time, including a fancy steakhouse)
Attractions: €150 (including our Airbnb experience)
Transport: €20 (bus tickets)
Everything else: €300
The last destination in our 3 week Italian holiday was Rome! Let me know if you have been to Florence, and what was your favourite thing about this beautiful, artistic city? Are you planning a trip to Italy this year? I'd love to know!