The birthplace of the Renaissance and home to famous art, architecture, and some of the world’s most delicious food and drink, Florence is a living, breathing masterpiece. Sure, 48 hours will never truly be enough, but here’s the best of where to go and what to do (and eat!) while you’re there.
Buongiorno, sunshine. Start your day at an authentic Italian bar (no, not for a Campari soda — for caffè). Follow your nose through the streets until you’ve sidled up to the right counter. Then, order your coffee of choice — but make it a milky one. Drinking cappuccino and latte macchiato after breakfast is non va bene. Pair your steaming caffè with a flaky cornetto or a jam and cream-filled bombolone and enjoy your meal while standing.
After you’ve dusted off stray pastry crumbs, it’s time to explore the city. Head to the historic center and marvel at the Florence Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site that took two centuries to complete. Most famous for the magnificent Duomo, a visit to Florence wouldn’t be complete without a climb to the top. However, major sites often leave you struggling for elbow room. Your best bet? Booking a tour in advance. It saves time, energy, and ensures you’ll have the best possible experience. Beat the crowds with priority entrance to the cupola and soak in a panoramic view of the city as you sip on complimentary water. Picture-perfect all year long, now is the time for shameless selfies and fun group photos. After you’ve gotten the perfect picture, head down to admire the rest of the cathedral.
No self-respecting Italian is going to sit down to lunch before 1:00, which means you shouldn’t either. While most restaurants close between lunch and dinner for riposo (afternoon break), plenty of places will still be open (orario continuato) if you stay close to the city center. Sit down at a trattoria and dine on panino con lampredotto, a famed Florentine sandwich, or tortelli di patate (potato-stuffed pasta). If you’re feeling up to it, now would also be the perfect time for a gelato.
Stick around the historic center and get to know the city’s origins on a walking tour. Learn about more than 2,000 years of history in the city of Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Discover Florence’s Roman roots at the Piazza della Repubblica and pause for a picture or two at the famed Ponte Vecchio. Traditionally topped with clusters of buildings since its construction in 1345, the bridge is lined by jewellers.
4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
All that walking is enough to make anyone hungry. Learn to cook a true Tuscan meal in a four-hour course. Head to the tree-lined Piazza D’Azeglio in Sant’Ambrogio and prepare a meal of your choosing from fresh ingredients. Top it all off with perfectly paired wine — salute!
Sample another Italian classic for breakfast today. Order a milky coffee and munch on fette biscottate (tiny, slightly sweet toast). Do not order an espresso: this is a technical term in Italian, not an everyday one. Instead, ask for un caffè.
Yesterday was all about architecture and views. Today, you’ll get up close and personal with artwork at the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest art museums in the world. With fame comes the masses — the lines can get pretty long here. Not to worry: priority entrance and a guided tour through the galleries will make the experience seamless. Once you’ve climbed to the top, head back down to see the highlights: Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” Caravaggio’s “Medusa,” and the only painting made on wood by Michelangelo.
After you’ve gotten your masterpiece fix, head up to the Piazzale Michelangelo in the Oltrarno district. The most famous square in Florence, you’ll be surprised to find you’re familiar with the view — after all, it’s on dozens of postcards and insanely ‘grammable.
Stay in Oltrarno and enjoy a sit-down meal of bistecca alla fiorentina (Florence’s famous steak dish) or grab a calzone and eat as you explore back alleys and winding streets. Next, head to the Boboli Gardens and learn about the powerful Medici family as well as some of the greatest patrons of the Renaissance. Once you reach the Pitti Palace, be sure to admire paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Tiziano, and Raffaello.
If you’re feeling a bit peckish, it might be time for merenda, a traditional afternoon snack. Sit down at a cafe and enjoy fresh bread, cheese, tomatoes, and ham alongside a generous glass of red wine. Make sure you eat your fill because dinner is still a few hours away.
Hopefully, you’ve indulged in a gelato (or two) during the afternoon, so Italian dinnertime doesn’t have you too hungry. Instead of heading back to the city center, swing by Piazza Santo Spirito. Full of markets and students by day, the square comes to life in the evening, filling up with locals and visitors. Sit down in the first place that catches your eye and settle in — you’ve just found the perfect place to wine, dine, and plan your next trip to Florence.