Florence: the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, the home of the Renaissance, wood-fired steaks, and some of the best gelato in all of Italy. It’s no wonder Florence, Italy is the favorite city of so many. Although Florence isn’t as big as Rome, it is still packed with things to do and see.
Since Florence is often the jumping off point for a tour through Tuscany, I’ve created what I think is the perfect itinerary for a day in Florence. Like I always say, this is just a starting point for your travels, so modify the itinerary for what you love to do. If you have more than 1 day in Florence (lucky you!) spread out the itinerary and make more time to linger at cafes, stroll through back alleys, and take as many gelato breaks as you possibly can!
Where to Stay
If you can splurge, book a room at Continentale overlooking the Arno river. For a moderate priced hotel with a great balcony check out Palazzo Guadagni. And for a real deal check out the options on airb&b like this one.
7:30am – There’s a lot to see today, so we’re starting your morning early at Café Rivoire for a cappuccino and a pastry. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, you’re probably paying more for a coffee than you need to. But you came to Italy for the ambiance, so when you can have your coffee while simultaneously viewing the sculptures in Piazza della Signoria you might as well splurge!
8:15am – Take a quick stroll through Piazza Signora before the crowds wake up and get your pictures of the beautiful statues, then head over to Fontana del Porcellino (Florence’s famous bronzed boar statue) and rub his nose for good luck!
9:00am – Accademia Museum – This is a relatively small museum, but it houses Michaelangelo’s infamous David. Be sure to make reservations in advance (there is guaranteed to be a long line for buying tickets). Another option is to get a Firenze Card.
10:00am – Pop into Mercato Centrale and pick up a snack if you’re hungry. This is a two-story food haven. If you are staying in Florence for multiple days, I would come back and visit the basement for a panini at the famed Nerbone restaurant.
Next up is a quick stroll through San Lorenzo market. While there are plenty of trinkets to pick up for friends back home, I would be cautious in buying leather products from the market. Florence is known for its leather, but nowadays the leather is often imported, so more likely than not, you will no be getting authentic Florentine leather if you buy from the market. (Don’t worry if a leather souvenir is on your to-do list as we’ll be heading to a leather school where they make handbags on site later today).
10:45am – Since Florence is said to be the birthplace of gelato, you might as well start early to try as many as you can. Grom is the perfect place to try your first scoop of gelato for the day.
11:00am – The one site you won’t be able to miss is the gorgeous Duomo. The beautiful pink and green church (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) is in the center of the city and magnificent from all angles. To see the top you have to climb 476 stairs, but the incredible view of the city on a clear day is completely worth it (8 euro)!
12:15pm – Scuola del Cuoio, Florence’s school of leather, makes handbags and accessories on site that you can take home with you. They offer one-hour tours (14 euro – must book in advance) and you can learn the leather-making process and techniques. There is a shop there, so you can bring yourself home a beautiful, authentic, and somewhat expensive souvenir.
1:15pm – Lunch at Il Pizzaiuolo for pizza. This joint has become quite popular after Beyonce and Jay Z made a visit and it’s nearby the school of leather.
*If you are going to skip the school then I would consider having lunch at Gustapizza (head over Ponte Vecchio and then come back to view the Uffizi after lunch). If you have more than 1 day in Florence, definitely make a stop at Gustapizza–my favorite pizza place in Florence!
1:30pm – Gelato, again?! Since we only have 1 day in Florence, we have to maximize your gelato consumption in a short amount of time! Next on the list is Vivoli!
2:00pm – A visit to the Uffizi Gallery to see Florence’s classic paintings (i.e. La Primavera, The Birth of Venus, Ognissanti Madonna and more). *If art galleries with renaissance paintings aren’t your thing, do not feel bad skipping this museum!
3:15pm – Make your way to Via de’ Tornabuoni to window shop the famous Italian designers like Valentino, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabana, Salvatore Ferragamo and more. If you need a pick me up, stop in Café Giacosa for an espresso.
4:30pm – Meander over the Ponte Vecchio peaking into the covered jewelry shops that line the old bridge. If you’re in need of another gelato fix stop at La Strega Nocciola just on the other side of the bridge.
5:00pm – Stroll through the Boboli Gardens or take a seat and just relax. This is a great place to escape the crowds for a while.
If you’re still feeling motivated (or want to skip the Boboli gardens) you can walk or bike to Piazzale Michaelangelo for amazing views of the city (this is a fantastic place to bring a bottle of wine and enjoy sunset too)!
6:00pm – Head back to your hotel to change and then it’s time for a pre-dinner cocktail! Bellinis at the rooftop bar, La Terrazza at the Hotel Continentale or a glass of wine at Rivalta Cafe are two great options.
7:30pm – If you’re into steak, then you may want to try the famous bistecca Fiorentina at Osteria de Benci or Boccanegra. Other dinner options to consider include L’Osteria di Giovanni, Tratoria Camillo, Trattoria Za Za, Il Latini, and Teatro Del Sale.
This is definitely a jam-packed day, so you may want to trim it a little depending on your motivation and interests. Florence is such a wonderful city that even if you spend your day wandering with no real direction, I know you will enjoy yourself!