I took the bus to Florence because it’s cheaper, and it’s only three hours from Rome which doesn’t feel long anymore. It was hot in Rome but the storm was just starting to break as I left the bus station in Florence. The men who peddle umbrellas and those colorful plastic bag ponchos seized the opportunity to pounce on anyone caught in the rain unprotected.
It was like this the whole trip – rainstorms that last a few hours in the afternoon, after a day of sunshine. I was happy to have an excuse to catch my breath in a room of my own at my Airbnb, already worn out from Rome.
My first glimpses of the city were clouded by the drizzle as I wandered through the narrow streets with tiny sidewalks barely big enough for one. I stumbled on the Duomo out of nowhere, surprised to see its pink and green patterned glory for the first time. I’ve read countless blog posts about Florence, but it’s disorienting to go from maps and lists to real life.
Florence is so much smaller than Rome. There are many tourists, but nothing like in Rome. It’s easier to step off onto a side street to escape, even in the city center. Almost everything is within walking distance, so it’s easier to gather up a list of recommendations and go, whereas in Rome, the sheer size of the city can make planning where to eat and what to do a more complicated task.
I reveled in drinking my espresso standing up at the bar, Italian style, and indulging in Italian pastries in the morning. Cornetti look like croissants, but they are lighter and sweeter instead of buttery, and they can be filled with jam or cream. My favorite is a cornetto with berry jam on the inside.
Since Florence was a bit less overwhelming than Rome, it was easier to break down into blog posts about the Duomo and the Uffizzi and of course FOOD which I’ll share with you soon. I almost want to say that Florence was the best part of the trip, but then I think about the handmade pasta in Bologna and wandering through Monti in Rome and I’m not sure.
But I do know for sure that Florence is somewhere I could unpack my bags and stay awhile.
Florence Travel Resources
If you’re planning a trip to Florence, here are a few resources I like.
The Curious Appetite: Another great local expat blogger, Coral is a food expert, and how! I found some of my favorite Florence cheap eats thanks to her blog. She also does food tours in Florence. I like Where to Get the Best Panini in Florence and her piece for Vogue on Best Foodie Finds in Florence.
(Ultimate) Florence Map Guide from History in High Heels. First of all, this blog is super dreamy and feminine and I love it. Second of all, she made this downloadable Google Map guide to Florence which is awesome. You can sort by restaurants, attractions, bars, etc. Pretty cool!
Design Sponge Florence City Guide: This is actually several guides in one with multiple contributors. It’s slightly out of date here and there so double check on cafés and boutiques before you go.
A Quick Guide to Florence from DIY blogger Geneva at A Pair & A Spare
Things to Do in Florence: 30 Ideas from This Is My Happiness
A Travel Guide to Florence from Love and London. She’s an expat who used to live in Florence, and her guide is concise and on point, particularly when it comes to aperitivo.
If you’re a Pinterest geek like me, you can find all of these and more on my Italy Pinterest board.
In Florence I got an Airbnb for a few nights – I like to switch off between hostels and Airbnbs when I travel because sometimes it’s so nice to have your own space, and I can often find a private Airbnb room for less than a private hostel room.
When I came back from Florence, I stayed at PlusFlorence hostel, which is shiny and stylish but is a wee bit far from the center and did not have enough working outlets in the room – all the design in the world is no good if I can’t charge my phone! (However, they did provide towels in the room, and that is rare and wondrous.) Academy Hostel seems like a much better location, but it is small and sells out quickly.
That’s all for now! More on Florence (and other stuff) coming soon 🙂 If you’ve been to Florence, I’d love to hear about it!