This 24 hour guide is an alternative guide on on how to spend a perfect day in Florence because it doesn’t cover the city’s main attractions or museums. There are hundreds of resources to help you navigate the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery and Accademia so I wanted to give you a few different ideas for how to spend a day in the Renaissance city – one that gets you outside, into the kitchen and up above the Florentine rooftops.
Whenever I want to have a local travel experience, I always turn to Airbnb. I’ve used the website to book apartments for a dozen trips over the past 8 years (and more recently, wonderful experiences with local hosts) and am always excited to see discover a new property. During my last trip to Florence, I lucked out and stayed in one of the most amazing rentals I’ve ever seen: the Giardi House is located in the hip Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence and is an architect and designer’s dream house come to life.
The apartment is set across three floors, with a spacious living room on the main level and a cozy loft space on the first floor that leads to the master bedroom and bathroom. There’s a second bedroom down below with it’s own bathroom so the apartment comfortably sleeps 4 people. The Giardi House also has a lovely shaded patio – not to mention, the coolest decor I’ve ever seen (plus a projector for movies and a whole library of design books). The property was so comfortable, I could have stayed here for weeks and can’t wait to return to Florence to spend more time inside this fabulous apartment! You can book it online here.
Climb The Bell Tower
My favorite way to get a feel for a place is to wander aimlessly down its little streets but I can never pass up the opportunity to soak in a city from up above. Although everyone stops by Piazza del Duomo the first time they’re in Florence, fewer people climb Giotto’s Bell Tower for a 360 degree view of the city. This 14th century tower is an important example of Florentine Gothic architecture and has 414 to the top, letting you admire Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome from up close, as well as the rooftops of Florence. For more information, see the Museo del Duomo website.
Take A Cooking Class
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, try your hand at fresh pasta and then sit back and enjoy your creations over a three-course lunch. One of the highlights of my last trip to Florence was a homemade pasta workshop with Max of Cuoco A Domicilio, a chef who offers cooking classes, home dining experiences, private dinners and more. We met up at Mercato Sant’Ambrogio for a stroll through the market’s colorful produce stands to pick up ingredients for our class: fresh basil, juicy tomatoes, and sage for our different sauces. This is the oldest market in Florence and has wonderful delis and small eateries as well; it’s a great place to mingle with locals and chit-chat with vendors while you peruse the tantalizing array of foods before you.
After our visit to the market, Max lead us to his home in a lovely residential area of Florence where enjoyed a glass of wine, rolled up our sleeves and got cooking. We learned how to prepare three types of pasta during our class and paired each one with a different sauce: tagliatelle with fresh cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, spinach & ricotta ravioli with butter and sage, and potato gnocchi with freshly ground pesto. And after a morning spent kneading, rolling, slicing and mixing, we were treated to a three-course meal of our homemade pastas – nothing is more satisfying than enjoying the fruits of your labor! Book your own pasta workshop here or visit the Cuoco A Domicilio website to arrange a tailor-made course (you can also keep up with Max’s latest creations on his Instagram).
Take A Walk
After a long, leisurely meal, enjoy some fresh air and a stroll through the elegant Boboli Gardens. Located behind the Pitti Palace, the property and surrounding land was purchased by the Medici family in the 16th century and further expanded throughout the centuries, today comprising over 45 hectares. The gardens are designed in a formal Renaissance style and represent a quintessential “Italian Garden” that features beautiful grottos, fountains with elaborates sculptures, numerous terraces and other architectural features. The Boboli Gardens inspired other gardens in Europe, including Versailles, and are a wonderful place to relax in the city.
Shop For Perfume
One of my favorite chicche (treats) in Florence is the opulent Santa Maria Novella Profumeria, a pharmacy and perfumery that dates back to 1612. This historical boutique is pure magic and stepping inside makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into a jewelry box: each hall features ornate paintings, vaulted ceilings and gorgeous decorations which serve as a backdrop for a modern-day shopping experience of hundreds of quality products. Santa Maria Novella manufactures chic cosmetics, perfumes, home fragrances, liquors, teas and more, all packaged in vintage designs and everything has the sweetest scent. If you like a well-curated aesthetic, you’ll love this pretty shop.
Next, stop for an aperitivo at Procacci, an enoteca that has been serving wine and truffled panini since 1885. Procacci lies sandwiched in between designer shops on the exclusive Via de’ Tornabuoni street in the heart of Florence and attracts a well-heeled crowd that drops by for a glass of wine and gourmet treats. This delicatessen-wine bar is popular for its bite-sized sandwiches filled with tasty ingredients such as prosciutto crudo & truffled artichoke cream, brie & caramelized onions and smoked salmon.
End your evening at Trattoria Sostanza, a wonderful no-frills eatery that has been serving Florentine locals for over a century. With a handwritten menu, white kitchen tiles lining the walls and shared tables, Trattoria Sostanza is charmingly retro and beloved by Italians and foreigners alike for its authenticity and genuine, home-cooked cuisine. The house special is pollo al burro, buttery chicken breasts cooked in a wrought-iron pan, and the tortino di carciofi all’uovo, an egg omelette with artichokes served with a slice of lemon and generous sprinkling of black pepper. Don’t miss ordering a few sides like fagioli all’uccelletto, white beans cooked in tomato sauce, garlic and sage, and seasonal vegetables – and most importantly, don’t miss ordering dessert: I can’t think of a pretty way to end a day in Florence than with a slice of strawberry meringue cake!