A few year’s ago one of my best friends and I decided to take a girl’s trip around Europe. We started our adventurous 10-day journey in Naples on to Sorrento, Positano, Capri, Rome and then to Florence. While I loved every other city, there was something about Florence’s vibe and charm that stuck with me. The food, the people, the rich art and history, and the attitude of the people were simply mesmerizing.
For years, I yearned to return to the city that birthed the Renaissance, and finally, the opportunity presented itself! I haven’t been this happy to revisit a city, well…. in forever! While I was unable to spend a significant amount of time in Florence, 24 hours was all I needed. I got to stroll the cobbled streets, take in a few sights and eat at my favorite restaurants!
Before I share my 24 hours in this enchanting city, I just wanted to share a few fun facts about the city for those who may not be familiar with this ancient city.
- Florence is the home of the Italian Renaissance, the end of the Middle Ages and the rebirth of learning. As an avid student of history, this one fact excited me and fueled my love of this city.
- Florence’s city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How cool is that? This city is like a museum!
- Even if you know nothing about Florence, you actually do. Some of the most famous and greatest artists in the world were from this city. Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo Da Vinci, Filippo Brunelleschi, Giotto.
- Funny fact: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were named after four famous artists of the Italian Renaissance….Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael.
Interesting hey? So, let’s get into what to do in Florence in 24 hours or less!
- Galleria dell’Accademia – Visit Michelangelo’s DAVID, located inside of the Galleria dell’Accademia. Chiseled out of a slab of marble this statue was a defining renaissance moment created between 1501 and 1504. The 14.0 ft marble statue depicts the biblical hero David patiently waiting for battle, armed with the slingshot in one hand and stone in the other. Michelangelo unarguably one of the most famous Renaissance artists took on this challenge at the age of 26. The details are super impressive, the facial expression, veins, and hands are insane. Also, there are other impressive sculptures by Michelangelo in the museum that are worthy of a look, most notably the Prisoners and the Palestrina Pietà (which may have bee done by a protege of the artists).
- Duomo – Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, a massive, ornate and iconic symbol of the renaissance movement in Florence is the 4th largest duomo in the world, after St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in London and the Duomo in Milan. Santa Maria was a major undertaking started in 1296 by architect Arnolfo di Cambio and consecrated by Pope Eugene IV in 1436. The dome, another architectural feat was designed by the renaissance master, Filippo Brunelleschi. Pictures truly do this duomo no justice! While you can admire the beauty of the duomo from the outside, you can visit inside. Prepare for very long lines though.
- Galleria Degli Uffizi – I regrettably skipped the Uffizi, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Inside this former government building, you can find some of the world’s greatest collection of ancient sculptures and paintings. The artwork in the Uffizi also consists of some of the greatest pieces of the Italian Rennaisance, which were once owned by Florence’s most powerful family, the Medicis. The family gifted their collection of art, statues, paintings and artifacts by the world’s most notable masters to Florence, with the stipulation that they never leave the city.
- Ponte Vecchio – Take a stroll over the oldest bridge in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio. There is a ton of history packed into this ancient bridge, having survived floods and a World War. On the Ponte Vecchio, you can find a buzz of activity and lots of shops, most notably jewelers and goldsmiths who have taken up residence since the Medici rule.
- Osteria Pastella – On my first visit to Florence, I stumbled on to this unassuming Italian restaurant near the heart of the city. Ever since that visit, I’ve been dreaming about making my return! If you’re looking for a homey spot with some of the best food you’ll ever eat, bookmark Osteria Pastella! You will not regret it. I recommend one of their most popular dishes, the Truffle Pasta. There’s an in-house pasta maker who spins the pasta from the glass window at the restaurant’s entrance.
- KOME – If you’re tired of pasta, pizza, and bread, make your way over to KOME Japanese Restaurant. Yea, I know you’re in Italy but this sushi is ahhmazing and a refreshing change from all of the carbs you’ll consume! The restaurant features a conveyor belt of plates with sushi staples, choose a plate and start lunch! If you want something a little different, you can ask or see if it’s on the menu!
- Venchi – You can’t go to Florence and not nom on some gelato. You’ll find a gelato spot on just about every corner, and they’ll all taste yummy tbh. But, if you’re looking for an experience, I’d recommend Venchi, a staple gelato and cioccogelateria spot scattered around the city. No, for real, this is a piece of heaven on earth. The gelato is made fresh every day with the freshest ingredients. A cone or cup is the ultimate way to end your day in the city.
If you are headed to Europe and have the opportunity to visit Florence. Don’t pass it up! You won’t regret it.