You can view all posts from my trip to Italy here.
You may have read last week’s post where Verona didn’t win my love, but thankfully, Florence more than made up for our disappointing experience. We had an awesome time visiting the Duomo, seeing beautiful buildings, touring Tuscany (stay tuned for that post!), and eating the most amazing food at the best restaurant in Florence!
We took two trains to get to Florence and got there in the late afternoon, and our Airbnb was about two blocks from the train station, so convenient! Since we left Verona earlier than we had planned (we really didn’t like it), we arrived at our Airbnb a little early and didn’t have a way of contacting our host, so I would suggest getting your Airbnb host’s phone number or some way to contact them before you arrive (we were Airbnb newbies). Our Airbnb host was very nice, and the apartment was so cute! I loved all the different color schemes and chandeliers.
After dropping our stuff off, we set off to see the famous Duomo! Its full name is the Cathedral del Santa Maria del Fiore, but everyone refers to it as the Duomo.
Santa Maria Novella
After feeling claustrophobic in the crowds in Venice, I was a little nervous about all the tourists in Florence, but it actually wasn’t bad at all. There were crowds around the Duomo, of course, but it was a very large, open space, so it didn’t really feel crowded. There were also quite a few street vendors and artists around the Duomo (I don’t know how I didn’t get a picture of all the artwork!) and most of them were surprisingly reasonably priced! And these artists were incredibly talented and it wasn’t cheap artwork at all. I got a couple of small pieces for only a few euros each, and my friends got some, as well.
I took TONS of photos of the Duomo (no surprise there!), and my pictures don’t do it justice! I loved the pastel pinks and greens on the cathedral, and I had never seen a building like it before. The dome is so famous because it’s massive and they were having problems building it, so to get it to work, they actually built an inner and outer dome for more support. We didn’t get to go inside the Duomo, but I bet the dome is even more impressive inside!
You can get a sense of the crowds of people
After craning our necks to gaze at the Duomo’s splendor for a while, we went right next door to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. I don’t know anyone who’s been to the museum before, but it was great! My art major friends got their fill of amazing artwork while I geeked out about all the fun facts about the history of the Duomo and Florence. I didn’t realize the Medici family played such a big part in the Duomo, and I found it all fascinating.
A replica of the front of the Duomo
Penitent Magdalene by Donatello
You can go to the top of the museum and see the dome up close!
This is the equipment they used to build the Duomo
This is where our day really turned into an adventure. We didn’t realize how late it had gotten, and the one thing I really wanted to do in Florence was get pictures of the sunset. It rained in Venice so we couldn’t see the sunset there and the mountains in Bassano del Grappa blocked a lot of the sunset, so this one night in Florence was my only shot.
We wanted to go to Piazzale Michelangelo to get photos of the sunset, and it didn’t look like it was that far from the Duomo, but we didn’t realize the last part was uphill. And I mean straight uphill. I can’t do this story justice, but this hike killed us all. We were trying to power walk as fast as we could, but the hills were killing us (and I walk at least a few miles in Philadelphia every single day, so I’m not in bad shape). The last part of the fun hike was straight up a hill of stairs. My friend Morgan and I were leading since we have the longest legs and we were panting and dying by the time we got to the stairs, and a friendly man told us that we better hurry because we only had a few minutes before the sun set. My lungs were on fire and my thighs were basically jello at this point (I’ll admit, I was using the hand rail to propel myself forward), but I was not about to miss sunset after I had gotten this far, so Morgan and I powered through and just barely made it to the top. I couldn’t catch my breath for the longest time and my chest hurt like crazy, but we made it!! (And that guy totally lied, we had more than a few minutes before the sun went down)
And it was so worth it (be prepared for tons of photos).
There was a big crowd at Piazzale Michelangelo and a lot of people were taking tons of selfies, so I would definitely suggest getting there early to claim a spot. And also so you don’t die sprinting on your way up
After catching our breath and getting feeling back in our thighs, we very slowly meandered over to Osteria Santo Spirito for dinner. If you visit Florence, you MUST visit Osteria Santo Spirito. It was my favorite meal in Italy! Every single dish we tried was absolutely delicious. And the best part was that you could order half portions of entrees so you could try more food! It was reasonably priced and just incredible. It wasn’t very crowded, but I think almost everyone in there was American so it kind of felt like being back in the U.S. (but it wasn’t a tourist trap like some Venice restaurants).
We hadn’t had gelato since Venice so we finished our night with a quest for gelato. Gelateria Santa Trinita was open later than most places, and it was one of the best gelato places we went to Italy, and one of the cheapest! My friend Mariah tried black sesame gelato, which I had never heard of, and it tasted a little like peanut butter. All the flavors were delicious, so definitely go to Gelateria Santa Trinita when you’re in Florence!
Photo by Mariah
So when you visit Florence, make sure you check out the Duomo and the museum, get to your sunset spot in plenty of time, and eat at Osteria Santo Spirito and Gelateria Santa Trinita! Stay tuned for more posts about Florence and Tuscany! 🙂
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Blog, Europe, Italy, Photography, Travel
Your article is so informative for me. It will really help to others. Thanks a lot.
I’m so glad it was helpful!
That Gelato looks spectacular! I love your pictures btw. Best Florence picture I have seen. You really captured the architecture well. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you! 🙂
omg, those tileworks are amazing. Also those Italian architecture makes me fall in love for them more. Got to see these with my own eyes. Hopefully soon.
Italian architecture is seriously the best!!
Great post. The Air B’nB looked os cute! You’ve not done it before? Reckon you’d do it again? We have been very lucky and all our Air BnB ventures so far have been great. We went to Venice in the winter so wasn’t as busy but it was still filled with tourists. I can only image it in the warmer months. Have yet to visit Florence and sooo on the bucket list!
Thanks! I’ve done a few Airbnbs and I’ve really enjoyed them!
What a mesmerizing sunset shots!! Such a beautiful architecture as well. It seems Florence truly worth one to visit.
Thank you! 🙂
I was imagining how fast you must have been going up that hill to get the gorgeous sunset photos. I would have done the same thing and pushed through it no matter how tough the hike was. I’m not very athletic but I can be for those amazing sunset photos 🙂
That hike wasn’t easy but it was so worth it!
What a lovely visit you had, I really loved your pictures..Italy looks so amazing, I want to go so bad! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you! 🙂
Oh I miss beautiful Florence! The Duomo is so magnificent!
It’s such an amazing place!
Wow your captures of the Duomo really capture it! (Way better than mine when I went to Florence lol). Oh, and I absolutely LOVE that you decided to add a picture of gelato to finish off your post!
Thank you! The gelato there was amazing!
It sounds like you had an amazing time in Florence! I’ve been once back in early 2008 so I’m dying to get back there! It’s great to hear most of Florence isn’t too overcrowded as well. I’ve heard of people having bad experiences in both Venice and Rome because of how crowded they are. Your photos of the Duomo look beautiful, and the views from Piazzale Michaelangelo definitely make the difficult hike worth it!
Thank you! Yes Florence wasn’t nearly as crowded as Venice, and it was one of the reasons why I loved it so much!
Florence was never super high on my list, but after reading your ;post and seeing your photos, it is now!! Just gorgeous!!
It’s such a beautiful place! 🙂
Great tip about seeing the Duomo dome from the museum next door! Too funny about racing up hill to see the sunset. I was there myself and the view is magnificent!
Yes it’s such an incredible view!
Your photos are gorgeous! Florence might just be my favourite city in Italy. Did you also get to visit any of the Medici villas? They’re my favourite places in the city!!
Thank you! 🙂 I didn’t, but I definitely want to see them the next time I go to Florence!
I love love love Florence. It’s one of my favorite cities EVER. There was this one restaurant I went to, La Giostra, and it was actually the best meal of my life. It’s a tiny hole in the wall place (you won’t find it if you’re not looking for it) so if you ever go back, you MUST go there!
Also did you get a chance to go to Siena? It’s an hour outside of Florence and legitimately my favorite place in the world.
Loving these Italy posts…giving me the worst wanderlust!
I love finding hole in the wall restaurants! I didn’t get to go to Siena, but I did go through Tuscany and it was beautiful!
That architecture OMG LOVE. What an amazing sunset, sounds like you had a great time – your photos are as beautiful as ever Julia
Thank you! 🙂 The architecture there was absolutely incredible!