A travel journalist I know once bemoaned her assignment to cover “Secret Florence” — obviously not because of the free trip to Florence — but because every inch of Florence has been covered. It’s so hard to plan in places like that, because there are a lot of tough choices. We only had 2 days in Florence, which made it even harder, but at least we found the best gelato!
Gelaterie La Carraia is a necessary part of your itinerary. It doesn’t matter whether you’re alone, with kids, with your boss or with your friends. We tried it shortly after arriving in Florence, and proceeded to visit twice a day. No regrets.
Second: lunch and/or dinner at Il Santo Bevitore. This was our best meal in Florence, so I will definitely go back next time. It’s so fun, so delicious and really unique. The food is both inventive and classic; the service is excellent; the prices are reasonable; and it’s perfect whether you’re on a romantic holiday or with your babies. You must, must, must make a reservation. I tried both phone and email, and the easiest way is to call at 10am when the phone lines open. They do have high chairs. I recommend their bakery S. Forno as well.
Another excellent stop with or without kids is the Mercato Centrale, where gorgeous heaps of traditional Italian ingredients fill the aisles. Is it weird how much I love food shops?
I was totally surprised by how great the “food court” upstairs is. I resisted going upstairs because “food court” has such a negative connotation to me, but I am so happy we ate there. We were seriously ready for some thin crust pizza after pasta twice a day, every day! There are ladies with trolleys full of fresh mozzarella walking around, ringing bells and shouting MOZZARELLA!! Best thing ever… can I get that lady to walk around my apartment? You grab your food and find a seat; waiters take your drink order (alcoholic or not), and bring it to you with no service charge. They make it so easy! Eataly has nothing on Mercato Centrale in Florence. sigh.
Florence is just so pretty. As you’ll hear from everyone, be sure to climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo for the sweeping views of the city. You can probably tell from the photos that the weather was terrible when we went (and we got totally soaked!), but it was worth it.
Take a lot of photos so that you can get one that’s perfect enough (sorry Tristan)…
Sunset up there is spectacular, but with our rainy day, we got a rainbow instead.
If your kids will tolerate some museum time, book your tickets in advance online for the Uffizi Galleries. They’re incredible. If needed, you can use the dedicated “baby pit stop” room for breastfeeding or changing, as well as the changing tables in some restrooms. If you don’t make it inside, the statues and sculptures in the piazza are some consolation.
And finally, Ponte Vecchio and the River Arno are beautiful both day and night. Ponte Vecchio is super crowded and filled with expensive shops, but it’s still worth strolling across.
We stayed at an Airbnb near Palazzo Pitti, which worked out really well for Il Santo Bevitore, La Carraia, and casual walks all over the city. It was good for our group because there’s a whole bedroom and bathroom upstairs, so my brother and his wife had some privacy. Auden slept on the couch, and the host was able to provide a travel cot for Tristan. Note: the stairs from the street up to the apartment are really steep and narrow.
Finally, my full itinerary and a super-local truffle hotspot are on the blog as well! Let me know if you have other Tuscany tips and gems!