These are just a few of my top places to visit while in Florence!
1- Piazzale Michelangelo
The Piazzale Michelangelo has the most magical view in Florence, which makes it my number one must-visit spot. You can see everything from the Plaza: the Arno, the Duomo, and all the beautiful buildings and streets. The panoramic view shows just how beautiful this city really is. I recommend grabbing your favorite pizza in Florence (mine is Biancazerozero!) before braving the hike up to the top and eating it while you watch the sunset! No worries if you don’t think you can walk up all the hills – there is a bus that can take you straight there. If you get lucky, someone will be playing live music at night, and you can stay after the sun goes down and dance with everyone. It is pure joy! Nights spent at Piazzale Michelangelo are my favorite nights in Florence.
2- The Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
The Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens took me by surprise. It is not the most touristy place in Florence, so I had not heard of it before getting here, but I am so glad I made time for it. The palace is full of beautiful art and sculptures, and I think the architecture and interior design is an art form in itself. It was once a symbol of Medici’s power over Tuscany. Even better is that the backyard is the Boboli Garden. It is breathtaking here, with flowers and lovely greenery and impressive sculptures. It even helped inspire Versailles! I think everyone should walk up to the highest point in the gardens to see the view. Fun fact: on the first Sunday of every month, all museums in Florence are free! This is the best way to knock out all of the spots without spending any money. It is totally doable to get through the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, Accademia Museum, and some chapels all in one day.
3- The Uffizi Gallery
As an art lover, the first place on my list to visit in Florence was the Uffizi Gallery, and it certainly did not let me down. The Uffizi has multiple stories and is filled to the brim with stunning works. The most famous piece they have is The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, but there are also pieces by Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Caravaggio that were amazing. I personally loved seeing all of the statues; it is so special that these delicate works of art have survived century after century and can give us such a glimpse into the past. Even if someone isn’t the most knowledgeable on art, I think this is still a must-see place, and there are audio guides that can fill in the gaps. If you want to save money on skip-the-line tickets but don’t want to waste your day waiting to get your ticket, I recommend getting to the museum before it opens to stand in line so you have even more time to spend taking in all the art.
4- The Central Market
The Central Market, or Mercato Centrale, has every kind of food and drink you could hope for. The bottom floor is perfect for weekly grocery shopping with all the fresh ingredients, but my favorite part is the top floor, where the walls are lined by vendors that offer very diverse options. There are desserts like tiramisu and cannolis, barbecue sandwiches, divine pizza, Chinese dumplings, pasta, American burgers and fries, and amazing spritzes. When eating here, you know you are getting fresh, quality ingredients and can watch as the meal is prepared in front of you. The Central Market is one of my roommates’ favorite places to grab dinner because we can all get something completely different but still eat together. It is also the perfect place to try a Florence specialty: lampredotto, a sandwich made from part of a cow’s stomach. I highly recommend visiting the Central Market, whether you want to experience some amazing Florentine food or have a taste of America!
5- View on Art
A great thing about Florence is aperitivo time, which is like an elevated version of happy hour. Most places are open around 7-9 PM for drinks and appetizers at very cheap prices. Some of my favorite spots are La Boite and Salsamenteria De’ Compi. One of my favorite things to do is discovering all of the little places to prepare my stomach for dinner, but, sometimes, I just need an amazing view without worrying about prices. This is when I visit View on Art, a cocktail rooftop bar. Everyone studying abroad in Florence must visit here at least once, just for the view. It is the best way to see the Duomo and has a lovely atmosphere. To ensure getting a spot outside to see the Duomo, definitely call ahead and reserve a table. Cheap and local aperitivo places will always be there, so make sure to set aside a night or two for a beautiful rooftop as well!
Written by: Isabelle, University of Mississippi student in Florence!