Emily Benito | Writing Contributor
Florence, Italy is a beautiful city. You can walk from one end to the other with no hassle, and the view from the Ponte Vecchio is to die for. This Italian city offers many things to do and sights to see. From the ancient buildings, to the museums and, of course, the tasty restaurants, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
With so many things to see and places to go, it would be hard to only spend a day or two in the city. Here are a few activities that are a must when visiting Florence for a day.
7 – 8 a.m.
Who doesn’t want to start their morning with a walk on the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence? If you are staying on the north side of the River Arno, walking over the bridge can offer a lovely view of the sunrise on your way to grab a foamy morning cappuccino at one of the local’s favorite haunts, Gusta Bar. A warm cup of coffee is a perfect addition to the stroll along the elegant street lined with beautiful jewelry shops that have been there since the 16th century.
When the Medici family built the Vasari Corridor, which is a long hallway above the bridge, they kicked out all of the butcher shops because rotting fish on a hot day in the city doesn’t smell very appealing. Jewelry on the other hand, is always shiny and ready to impress, so the jewelers moved onto the picture perfect street.
After that beautiful stroll and morning coffee stop, make your way to the Pitti Palace and the beautiful Boboli Garden. The palace is one of a kind and the garden has provided years of beauty and a place of nature in this busy city. The garden has many different types of flowers and even has its own parrots. Families and friends gather in the garden to soak up the sun, have a picnic or read a good book.
My next recommendation would be visiting the Uffizi Museum and the Galleria Del Accademia. There are many pieces of famous artwork collected by the Medici family, including the masterful statue, The David. Why come to Florence if you’re going to miss out seeing this masterful statue. Tip: Make reservations in advance. David is a very popular guy around these parts.
The sightseeing masterpiece everyone has been waiting for: The Duomo. The Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral is the most recognizable building in Florence. The dome on this cathedral is state-of-the-art. Historians and engineers still wonder how it was possible to build such a structure in the 1400s. There are different ticket packages to visit this monumental piece of art so make sure to buy the right package for you. Some are shorter and more accessible, others take visitors all the way up to walk into the dome itself. Make sure to wear good walking shoes!
It would be a crime to visit Florence without getting gelato. There are many different places to try the tasty treat but beware of the tourist traps. Mountain high gelato bins might be pretty, but the hole-in-the-wall small gelato businesses are the way to go. Aesthetic does not always equal the best quality and flavor. Locals do not need to see magnificent mountains of gelato to find the good stuff, they avoid those high-piled displays.
Travelling is fun, but work almost never stops. Visit a local coffee shop and take in the ambiance all while getting things done. La Cite, located on Santo Spirito, is where all the local students and young adults go to do their work. You will find a wide variety of drinks and snacks to enjoy during your quick work-break from vacation. If you’re looking for a trendier, modern coffee shop, take a pit-stop at Ditta Artigianale.
Now that you have done some work and visited the museums and gardens, it’s time to slow down and relax. Something you will notice is everyone gets an ice-cold drink around 5 p.m. for an aperitivo, as the Italians call it. Friends and family sit down and have appetizers and drinks to talk about the day and enjoy one another’s company, along with an aperol spritz or two. My favorite place to go is Foody Farms. It is a budget friendly restaurant with tasty appetizers and drinks. For a college student living on a budget, it’s place to go.
Dinner is an important meal of every day, so it is essential to go to a restaurant that offers a fun atmosphere and amazing food. Il Teatro is a favorite among the study abroad students. The restaurant environment is perfect for a family or group of friends trying to enjoy a piece of Italian comfort. The bread and olive oil at the table deserve a chef’s kiss, and the staff know their regulars by name.
If you are looking for a city with beautiful views, bridges and of course, The Duomo, then visiting this city in Tuscany is for you. Until then, a presto.
Emily Benito currently serves as a contributing writer for Alice. For three months she studied abroad in Florence. She is a senior at The University of Alabama pursuing a major in news media with minors in communication studies and global and cultural perspectives. She loves horseback riding, hiking and travelling. She is also a reporter at WVUA 23 News where she enjoys meeting new people and sharing stories in the community.