My name is Allegra (@aallegram), I was born in Italy, near Venice. I lived in London during and after University and then I moved to Florence for a job. I lived in Florence for a year and a half, and I must say I really enjoyed my time there.
Florence is picturesque, warm and welcoming. It can really make you appreciate life. Time stands still and beauty evolves so gracefully and naturally. It could be a bit too peaceful after a while, which is why I decided to take off and move back to London. But, I would highly recommend spending your summers, your weekends, or a few years of your life there. Especially artists as the city has the most perfect scenery.
To conclude, I think Italians in general have a very refined sense of aesthetic and that Florence could be a very emblematic representation of this idea.
What is a typical breakfast and where would you go?
I have no doubt in saying that it would be Caffe’ Gilli, the oldest café’ in the city. The cafe itself is full of history and you can feel it as soon as you step in. It is located in Piazza della Repubblica, a few minutes from the Duomo. They have the best custard cream Croissant in the world and a very strong espresso, just as we Italians like it.
What is your favourite place to grab lunch?
Da Camillo, in the middle of Borgo San Jacopo. A family-run trattoria, it has all the magic that comes with it. Since it is well-known, it does attract tourists, but it is still the Florentine people’s Sunday spot. The unpretentious atmosphere is what made me fall in love with the place. And, of course, the food, which is very good and reasonably priced and will satisfy your hunger and curiosity.
I’d recommend to ordering the Lasagne, it’s a dish made by Emilia – the daughter – its delicate and flavourful. They also produce a great organic house red wine, to accompany your lunch. Ask for it!
What is the ideal afternoon activity in a city like Florence?
I am not going to list all the must-see places in Florence because that information is easily traceable. Florence is and always will be a melting pot of all kinds of art forms. The Divine Comedy, that is, in my opinion, the biggest masterpiece that was ever created, was conceived in Florence. It is where the Renaissance started. Thus, all museums and churches are to be seen, or at least Santa Maria Novella, Santa Maria del Fiore, Santa Croce and the Duomo. I think the Uffizi Museum is a must-see just as much, but it is a maze so it’s easy to get lost in it for at least 4-5 hours.
For something more personal, I would recommend Piazzale Michelangelo because it has the most incredible view of the city. You’ll see every little detail that makes Florence so special. Grab a beer at the nearby deli and enjoy the sunset, sitting on the bricks. It’s breath-taking. Also, placed above the Piazzale, there is the San Miniato Church, a hidden gem of the city.
Where are the best places for dinner?
I am not going to lie; the most fun is kept secret in Florence homes. Florentine people are the best at throwing dinner parties, which keep going until very late. They are friendly, so you might be lucky enough to end up attending one. However, Podere 39 is my number one dinner spot, near Porta Romana. I would rank Cibreo number two; although very well known, it never disappoints. You should try the “Minestra di Pane”, a bread-based soup that tastes like heaven.
In the evening, what is the city like and where do you find yourself?
My Florentine memories mainly include going from bar to bar, in Santo Spirito, after dinner and waiting to drink “l’ultimo”, meaning the last glass of wine of the evening.
In a busy city like Florence, is there anywhere to chill?
The Boboli Garden is a great spot to chill and if you are an art student, you can get in for free.
What is there to do for something fun and different?
I attended some great parties at Serre Torrigiani, and Manifattura Tabacchi is also a great evening spot. They provide a wonderful Moscow Mule and good music. La Menagere is also a really fun place to let loose.
Where is the best area to stay/sleep for young travellers?
A numerous amount of Florentine families were lucky enough to inherit great palaces and buildings from their parents and grandparents which were built in the most flourishing era of human history, the Renaissance. Now, many of them have become amazing Airbnb spots that are super affordable (It is full of American students from NYU, they normally take advantage of these options). I’d recommend checking the area of San Niccolo, there are so many beautiful places to stay.
What season would you recommend visiting?
May or June. After then it gets too hot and it is feels like Abu Dhabi. Florence must be experienced in Spring. At least if that’s your first time.
Is Florence best for a family holiday/friends holiday or a couples holiday?
I’d say it is best for couples, but it welcomes families just as well. Also bear in mind that Florence is really ideally placed, near Siena, Pisa, Capalbio and the Val d’Orcia. So, there are great wine and olive oil tasting experiences. Also, The Maremma, the Tuscan countryside, is just unmissable.