Florence is known as the birthplace of Renaissance and it is often considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was unfortunate that we could only stay here for 24 hours. I don’t particularly fancy having only one day in a city but we had to prioritize Rome and Venice. We could have easily skipped Florence and visit it some other time but it was begging to be seen, explored.
If your prime reason for visiting Florence is to get into museums like Uffizi and Accademia, this itinerary is not for you. But if you just want to feel the city, take in the sights without that feeling of missing out on something, it’s well worth the day trip. So here’s me oversharing our adventures and misadventures on the city of perfectly-shaped domes and nude macho statues.
15:00 Buona sera, Firenze!
No, I didn’t accidentally delete the morning part of our itinerary. Budget travelers can’t afford early morning tickets so afternoon train trip, it is. For 15€ each, these low cost Italo trains took us from Rome Tiburtina to Firenze Santa Maria Novella station in just one hour.
16:00 AirBnb Check-in
From the train station, we lugged our suitcases on and off a bus to our AirBnb room outside the center. Our Spanglish-speaking Italian host, Pierpaolo, welcomed us to his lovely apartment. As much as we wanted to lie down even just for a few minutes, we couldn’t waste precious time. The free bikes our host promised us were ready to take us on a tour of the city.
16:30 Riding in Tandem
My biking skills were kind of rusty after many years out of the saddle. Good thing there was a really great cycling path along the banks of Arno River, through the massive Cascine Park to the city center. It was 20 minutes of butt soreness yet utter bliss. Biking in a wonderful city, alongside my boyfriend, made my body release some happy hormones.
17:00 Troubled bridges over waters
We locked our bikes safe and sound near the American embassy as advised by Pierpaolo then we started hoofing it to the Duomo, which was first on our list. On our way we saw 2/6 of Florence’s bridges: Ponte Amerigo Vespucci and Ponte alla Carraia. The city is neatly divided into two parts by the Arno River and these bridges connect them.
We chanced upon a weekend market in Piazza della Repubblica. Sun was setting, must photograph Duomo in daylight.
17:30 Florentine Architecture at its finest
This octagonal building is the Baptistery of San Giovanni, overshadowed to some extent by the famous church behind it and literally by another building in front. We didn’t enter the thing but I regret not having seen some fine Byzantine mosaics inside.
Behind it is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with a uniquely beautiful façade made of colored marble. The delicate contrast between the vivid green and the pale pink and white and the ornate Byzantine-esque marble carvings… thumbs up from a fan of anything pastel and Byzantine.
And this perfectly-shaped dome is the cherry on top.
18:00 Gelato break
We finally gave in to the urge for some gelato since almost everybody around us was holding one. After a good hour of taking all the stimuli in, the obligatory stop at the souvenir shop and some PDA in between, we carried on with our itinerary.
We hopped on a bus, in the hope of getting to the Galleria dell’Accademia a little less late in the evening but it was already closed. Not that we were planning on getting in (which would have been awesome because the original David is inside), but we thought the architecture of the building might be worth seeing. We got there and we almost missed it because it was actually very nondescript.
20:00 Piazza della Signoria
By the time we got to Uffizi, the sky was already midnight blue. We didn’t see the artworks inside but this spot allows some great photo opportunities. We had Ponte alle Grazie on one side and Ponte Vecchio on the other. Both bridges are lit up at night and the reflection off the water makes for some great shots.
On a corner of the Piazza della Signoria was Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air sculpture gallery showcasing perfectly-honed torsos and buns guaranteed to make you feel insecure of your own.
A full-size replica of David standing outside Palazzo Vecchio, on the spot where the original used to be.
A tale of two Davids.
Another stunner in the piazza was the beautifully-illuminated Fountain of Neptune.
21:30 Pizza Dinner
We were tired and hungry and looked for an affordable pizza place nearby, but no such luck. We resorted to seeking help from Yelp and it brought us to Gusta Pizza. Tummy, meet your new favourite pizza flavour: Calabrese – fresh, sweet tomatoes, spicy salami, basil and mozzarella. Too yummy for 7€.
23:00 Pitti + Vecchio
After that unforgettable pizza dinner, we tried to burn some calories by walking towards the parking lot where we left the bikes. We stumbled upon the Palazzo Pitti and we took the opportunity to cross the quaint Ponte Vecchio. The jewelry shops were already closed but surprisingly tourists still swarmed the bridge.
23:30 Cycling After Hours
Before the stroke of midnight, we started biking our way to our apartment. We crossed the same park but this time we had the whole thing to ourselves… it was almost kinda creepy.
24:00 Getting some z’s
We hit the sack after a very long day.
08:00 Buongiorno Firenze!
What better way to start the day than with a refreshing cup of instant noodles. Ahhh, you deadly little lifesaver.
10:30 Airbnb Check out
We checked out from our Airbnb room and made a beeline to the bus stop. It was a Sunday so buses ran less frequently. We had to wait several minutes before we could board on an SMN-bound bus.
11:30 Trattoria near train station
Train was delayed by an hour so we looked for a place to pop into for some sort of brunch. The options inside the station weren’t appealing at all so we looked for a restaurant outside. Our eyes fell on a decent-looking trattoria right across the west exit. I went for pasta arrabbiata and David for pizza verace, pomodorini, mozzarella di Bufala. Okay.
13:00 Arrivederci, Florence!
Our train finally left for Venice. Florence, that was quick but grazie for having us!