Three Nights in Florence 

I lived in Florence for a semester in college, so I wish I was saying how great it was to revisit all of my favorite places with my kids. The reality was that I barely remembered anything specific... at most, a few of my favorite artworks, a good sandwich place, the Arno river. My lack of recall was alarming, but on the other hand it was amazing to explore the city again as an adult. I really don't know that there is anything more delightful than spring in Florence. 

Things we did that we loved

  • We started our first full day with a two-hour bike tour (FlorenceTown via TripAdvisor) that started in Piazza della Repubblica and wound around the Duomo, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Medieval Square, and across the Ponte Vecchio to The Pitti Palace. Because we covered a lot of ground, we didn't spend time inside any of these sights, but our guide was brilliant at explaining the history and significance of each place. We got a comprehensive overview of the city, including many stories of Renaissance artists and families. There were a few spots that we revisited later on our own for a closer look. We all liked the fact that the final stop on the bike tour was at Gelateria Pitti for amazing gelato. 

  • Galleria dell’Accademia is an absolute must, as is reserving skip-the-line tickets in advance. Seeing Michelangelo's stunning David in real life is truly breathtaking. I love that you can observe the intricate details from all around the sculpture. Take notice of the veins in his hands, for example. It's just one small detail that makes this piece so extraordinary. 

  • Giotto’s Campanile. My son will request that we climb every possible tower or hill in every place we visit. The kid loves a good lookout point and aerial view. We opted for Giotto’s Campanile instead of the Duomo, as we liked the idea of seeing the Duomo from above. The line is long, but it moves fast enough. You walk up a very narrow stairway, so maybe not the best for the claustrophobic, and are rewarded with incredible views of the Duomo and the city stretching in all directions. 

  • Santa Croce is the burial place of many important Italians, like Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and the composer Rossini. Like much of the Florentine architecture, the exterior is decorated in a mix of green, pink, and white Carrara marbles. The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world and the interior contains beautiful frescoes by Giotto and his pupils. There is also an empty tomb of Dante, the famous poet, who is said to have angered the Pope and was buried in a nearby town. 

  • As mentioned, my son loves a lookout and I'm so glad we made our way up to Piazza Michelangelo. The gardens were resplendent in spring and the views of the city were beautiful. 

  • The kids took a painting class. Unfortunately I no longer have the details, but I highly recommend finding a class if this is something you or your kids would be interested in. The city has such an incredible artistic history that it is fun to be a part of it, even on a minor scale. 

  • The carousel at Piazza della Repubblica because why not?

  • A quick dip into Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the oldest running pharmacy in Europe today. 

Delicious food in Florence:

  • Baldovino. This sweet little restaurant is right across from Santa Croce. The classics were otherworldly: amazing pizza, fresh pasta, perfect tiramisu. 

  • Trattoria Sabatino, located in Oltrarno this definitely caters to locals, so enjoy all the incredible homemade Italian dishes while pretending that you live here. 

  • Trattoria SostanzaAnother amazing little local haunt. Whatever you order will be good, so just get a glass of wine and enjoy it all. 

  • My absolute favorite sandwich place in college, L’Antico Noèis still absolutely delicious. It was such a joy to return to this sandwich that I have been dreaming about for the last 20 years. 

  • San Lorenzo Market is a great place to check out when you're getting hungry for a little lunch. You can wander around all the stalls and decide what looks best that day. We opted for sandwiches and were very happy. 

  • Eat all the gelato. One a day is probably not enough. We loved Gelateria La Carraia

  • Carabè is a refreshing alternative to gelato when you need a sweet fix. It's right down the street from the Accademia. Go with the fresh citrus flavors. 

Where we stayed:

Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci. This hotel is in the most perfect location, right on a little square where you will hear street musicians playing in the afternoon through your open window. The rooms are incredibly spacious, though the first room they offered was small and dark- the second room was worlds better. This hotel has incredible potential with its gorgeous architecture and sweet rooftop terrace, though it is probably time for them to do a refresh on the interiors. Certainly not a bad option if you want a central and charming old Italian hotel. 

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