I’d always dreamed of traveling to Italy. The seaside villages, colorful gelato, delicious pasta and sparkling beaches all comprised my perfect European paradise. So when it came time to plan my first visit, I decided I wanted to see, taste and experience as much as I could in two weeks. Instead of slowly moving from one city to the next (my usual style), the plan was to base myself in Tuscany and see lots of places by day trip. Thankfully, Italy’s efficient rail system made all of this very doable. I was amazed at all I squeezed into a few days, and one of my favorite little adventures was a trip to the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance – Florence.
I took the earliest train from Tuscany and found myself in Firenze by 7 AM. I had a laundry list of sculptures, churches and views I wanted to visit, but more than anything I wanted to see the city’s soaring Duomo. I headed straight away on foot, and was at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore by 8 AM. It was absolutely breathtaking, especially in the early hours with no crowds and no tourists (the prefect time for photos).
2. Loggia Dei Lanzi
I’d always loved history and old architecture, but artwork and museums had never really been my thing. So as I started my morning wanders through Florence, I was amazed by the effect these Renaissance marvels had on me – particularly the sculptures scattered throughout the city. The garden of marble statues at the Loggia dei Lanzi was one of my favorites, and an easy stroll from the Duomo.
3. Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is at the top of most Florence lists, but with only 10 hours in the city, I couldn’t realistically visit the museum without sacrificing an entire day of sightseeing. So I decided to save the museum for another trip, but still strolled its outdoor gallery of Florentine statues – Macchiavelli, DaVinci, Vespucci, etc. For anyone else without time for the museum, I thought this was a beautiful little taste, and it left me wanting more.
As I traveled through Italy, I found myself eating sweets and treats at all hours of the day. So I was delighted to find a Venchi chocolate shop, a short walk from the Uffizi Gallery. Gelato, pastries, chocolate – you name it, I tried it all at Venchi.
5. Piazzale Michaelangelo
It took some work to reach one of my favorite views in Italy, but was well worth the effort. From the Uffizi Gallery, I headed across the Arno, and then up to the Piazzale Michaelangelo. I’d found the dreamiest spot to soak in the skyline with the Duomo and Campanile rising up over the picturesque city. The panoramic scenes over Florence were breathtaking. After snapping dozens of photos, I climbed even higher to the Basilica San Miniato al Monte, for yet another magical view of Firenze.
6. Piazza Santo Spirito
I love dining to good vibes, and the Piazza Santo Spirito lined with cafes, restaurants and bars oozed with infectious energy. It was the perfect lunch spot, located on the same side of the Arno as the Piazzale Michaelangelo, and close to my next stop – the Palazzo Pitti. There were plentiful outdoor dining options on the piazza, I went with Trattoria Borgo Antico, scarfing down a large helping of delicious pomodoro spaghetti – my go to lunch dish in Italy.
7. Palazzo Pitti
My last stop was a quick visit to the Palazzo Pitti. The transformed palace offered a full day of Renaissance gems, but with an afternoon train to catch, I skipped the museum and settled for the gorgeous grounds. The gardens were beautiful to wander and channel my inner princess – perfect hedges of green accented by gravel boulevards and bright white statues.
And it wouldn’t have been a proper trip to Florence without a stroll along the Arno. Quiet in the mornings and bustling by midday, the stretch surrounding the Ponte Vecchio offered some of the prettiest views over the famous river. And strolling the bridge felt like a step back in time as I weaved through the crowds of tourists browsing the adorable little jewelry shops. It was a whirlwind daytrip to Florence, but enough of a taste to know that I’ll be back very soon. Ciao, Firenze! ♡