Pack Your Bags: Florence, Italy

Its probably been said on this blog
{one too many times}
how much I love the city of Florence.

For a long time, it was a city that captured my heart
and had me constantly dreaming of return.

I studied there in college,
returned for summers to visit my college boyfriend, 
and eventually, 
all of that time spent during my young adulthood, 
endeared me to Florence in a way
that is still difficult to articulate.

I didn't know I could feel that way about another place
until we moved to Oxford.

While there are some smaller, 
more local places that I never miss when I'm in Florence,
(or in the surrounding suburb of Scandicci
where I escape to spend quieter time with local friends)
the places I want to share with you now
are spots in downtown Florence
that are guaranteed to make 
your first or second visit really special.

To Do:

          In between the train station (Santa Maria Novella)
and the famous Duomo of Florence,
this sprawling market is a must for visitors.

Pick up your leather goods,your souvenir t-shirts,
any type of scarf imaginable,
or a slew of (completely decent) silk ties for a couple of euro a piece.

It's more than okay to haggle here...
in fact, it's expected when you buy multiples of anything
or higher ticket items like leather bags.


In a large piazza in the market,
is a large building, The Central Market,
which is a really good food market
that can quickly endanger your limited suitcase space.

Gorgeous olive oils, spices, pasta mixes, truffle spreads, chianti wines
are all there waiting for you.

There are small stalls in here that give locals & tourist alike
an affordable- and delicious- option for lunch.

Look for the stands where old Italian men linger
around nearby tables with small tumblers of wine...
it's a tell-tale sign that the food is good.

                            Go here for sunset for the most stunning view of Florence
setting in the valley of the Arno.

Either hike the walk, 
take a bus (which can be a bit complicated),
or splurge for the taxi up to this famous look out.

Regardless of how you arrive there,
when you see the amazing view before you...
you'll be glad you did.

The Accademia

Go see (one of) the massive masterpieces of Michelangelo, David, here.

Lines can get pretty terrible in summer months,
so save the trouble and book online.

You'll be glad you saved your time for sitting in a cafe
instead of along the crowded street in the hot sun.

Climb the Duomo

Yes, it's a haul to climb all the 463 steps 
up to the "cupola" of Florence's landmark church...
but when you see the city of Florence
sitting in the gorgeous Tuscan valley
in the glow of the late afternoon sun
{yes, you should go in the late afternoon}...
you'll know why this lethargic lump of a woman
would ever recommend such an outing for you.

{FYI: The last time I climbed, it was  €8.00. More info here.}

To Eat:

                             Trattoria ZaZa

Read more about this popular eatery
specializing in Tuscan cuisine
and perfectly situated in the San Lorenzo Market here.

Recommended dishes: 
the bruschetta, the ribollita 
& anything with truffle that you see on their menu.

Dinner reservations recommended.

Some people love it.
Some people think it's overrated.
Regardless, you can't argue that gelato is delicious.
I happen to fall in the camp that loves GROM.
like peach, raspberry & sicilian orange win me over.

Though to be fair,
it's now a rapidly growing chain
that even has locations in Manhattan.

This place is special to me.

I've spent many epic nights here...
along with way too much of my money.

But it's always worth it.

The four cheese ravioli introduced me to the truffle 
long before I even knew of it's existence.

I didn't know what the flavor was,
but could only explain it as "an explosion of magic in my mouth."

{Editor's Note: Maybe I wasn't the most articulate 19 year old.}

I've been back countless times since and seen the restaurant evolve
into a favorite of tourists and locals alike.

for the best view of the Ponte Vecchio in town.

This cafe is a gem.

It's discreetly tucked at the top of the busy department store, 
La Rinascente, located in Piazza Repubblica.

Up, up, up you go in the store
all the way to the home section at the top.

When you get there, 
go up the stairs into the cafe...
then up the small set of stairs onto the balcony.

Pay too much for a cup of coffee 
and enjoy a magnificent view of the cupola of il duomo.

While locating this legendary gelateriawas the catalyst for a near-divorce 
between Tyler & I,
it's hard to say that it wasn't worth the trouble.

The gelato really is fantastic
and if you can put up with crowds of people,
a great place to try Florence's "best gelato."

Owned by the famous Ferragamo family
(yes, that Ferragamo)
this swanky boutique hotelsits pristintely adjacent to the Ponte Vecchio.

If you can't splurge on staying in their apartment style hotel,
and pretend you are living the fabulous life.

{Which, if you've found yourself in Florence, is not really pretending.)

For 12 euro, you'll get a fancy cocktail
followed by well-manicured antipasti 
such as crab cakes and bite-sized cured meats.

To Stay:

Medium: AirBNB apartment rentals. {Seriously, I'm a fan.}

Budget: Avanti Italia
Ok, so this is an out of the normal option, 
but it's so affordable and helps out an awesome ministry.

At only $15 per person per night, it's a pretty decent option.

It's about a 20 minute bus ride out of the center of town, 
but it's actually really simple to get in & out of the downtown to Avanti.

I've stayed there countless times when visiting Florence with a small budget.


Florence is an amazing city
that captures my heart every time I visit...
and I know that I'm not alone.

What are some places and things 
that have enchanted you while visiting Florence?

Was there a special place that made your trip to Florence special?
Post it below so the rest of us can make sure to hit up the fun!

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy & Liz Denfeld


  1. I love that all of these pictures were from our trip to florence together. and now i miss you real bad.

  2. I love Florence so much too Lauren. Sadly the last time I was there was back when I was living in Italy as a high school student. :( Must remedy that stat! I love those spectacular view photos! So beautiful.

    Bonnie Rose | The Compass Rose

    1. I've stayed at Avanti Italia too. It's really awesome!

  3. I visited Florence once in high school and it was amazing. I recently went to Venice and fell in love. I'm beginning to think that there is not a city in Italy that isn't perfect.

    1. I agree! You must see Napoli next time. I may be a bit biased since I grew up there, but the pizza is amazing!

  4. I've never been to Florence but am leaving for Rome in a week. If you've been, do you have any must sees, must dos, and must eats?

  5. It's going to be awhile before I get to Europe again but I'm dying to just travel around Italy now! Florence is definitely on my must-see list thanks to you!

  6. I studied in Florence and have the same affinity for it that you do-- just dying to go back! Za Za was also a favorite, but my favorite gelato place was Gelateria dei Neri. Amazing! And I studied architecture so I am pretty sure I saw every church in the city-- the best (by far) is San Miniato Al Monte. It is on the other side of the river and is totally breathtaking. You can check it out when you make your trek over to Piazzale Michelangelo.

  7. Florence is definitely on my list of must sees... looks gorgeous!

  8. Santa Maria Novella! This convent has for centuries put out essential oils and now has (what I think is) the best body milk in the world. It's such an experience walking in those doors. It's so fragrant and a must, in my opinion. Like you, Italy and Florence, in particular, is just my favorite place. Lovely.

  9. Florence is amazing. My heart yearns for that sweet city. I went for my honeymoon with my husband. Seriously, the only fight we got into was trying to find a particular gelateria!

  10. I've been to Florence a few times for quick trips when we've been to Italy to visit the family. I would love to go back and it's definitely one of my favorite cities within Italy, if not anywhere. The few times I've been I always feel like I've walked into a fairy tale the moment I step off the train.

  11. Vivoli! Did we go there on your Europe trip? I agree that it is worth the trek to find (and also that it is pretty challenging TO find it). Love your Florence suggestions- makes me want to go back!

  12. i just wanted to let you know that i bookmark all of these posts. and i'm totally going to find me some GROM here in manhattan!

  13. Perfect! I'm hoping to go this summer - great recommendations!

  14. You alllll have to go to Ciro & Sons! I almost cried when our meal was over and immediately called home to the states to thank my friend that sent us. The pear and cheese ravioli is divine.


    1. Carly, I just figured out how to make pear and ricotta ravioli. I can share the recipe with you if you send me your email address.
      - Kit

  15. I studied in Florence and fell in love with the city. Za Za's was a favorite.

    My mom came to visit me when I was studying and it was her second trip to Florence. She has been in the 70s with my father when they were dating. One day we were on the other side of the Ponti Vecchio from where I lived, so I didn't know which restaurant to go to. So we asked a police officer for a recommendation. He took this so seriously that we told us to give him a minute to he could consult this colleagues. So 3 policemen discussed where we should go. They told us Trattoria 13 Gobbi. My mom remembered the name instantly, she had been there with my father 30 years earlier. We had a fantastic meal, and my mom said the restaurant was just as she remembered it.
    Here is a link to the restaurant website:

    Another bit of advice is to spend a night in Fiesole. It is the city on the hill above Florence and it has amazing views.

  16. umm LOVE that I can read this and be like been there done that been there!
    hope all is well!

  17. I would LOVE to go to Florence. After a stressful week I am this [ ] close from just booking some flights somewhere fun, and Florence looks pretty good right now...!! x

  18. If you published a travel book, I would buy it and take it everywhere I went. In fact, I would make it a goal to go every place you wrote about.

  19. Hang on a second, let me just go and use up my life savings on a plane ticket right now - I would so do it willingly just for this!

  20. Echo visiting the pharmaceutical shop at Santa Maria Novella. Love the Uffizi Gallery. Favorite restaurant is Trattoria il Contadino (near the train station, fixed price menu, cheap, consistently good each visit in 2001/2007/2009, mostly locals and Italian patrons). Had a great time staying in an apartment in Piazza Santo Spirito.

    OK, I need to live there some day!

  21. My family just moved back from Florence to Texas two years ago! These pictures make me miss it so bad. ZaZas was one of our favorites too! Other favorite was "Il Gatto e La Volpe" SO good! We lived in Fiesole, which is a little town that overlooks Florence. It's on the bus route and has great views - definitely a worthy of an afternoon :)

  22. i ate at the open bar too! and it made me happier than it should that you had it on your list. florence is the bomb.

    hope your'e doing well, mama!

  23. Can you please write a travel book???

  24. Loved reading all your recommendations and will definitely check them out this summer when I'm back in Florence!

    So jealous you got to study there, I looked and looked but didn't find anything that would match up with my courses and budget.

    I can highly recommend eating at Obikà Mozzarella Bar, I wrote a post here
    So good and like the name suggests, all about mozzarella!

  25. Loved reading through all your recommendations, will definitely try them when I'm in Florence again this summer.

    So lucky you got to study in Florence! I really wanted to as well but couldn't find a university that matched up with my courses or my budget.

    I can highly recommend eating at Obikà Mozzarella Bar, I wrote a post about it here
    Like the name suggests, it's all about mozzarella!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...