This was my first time visiting Italy, and it didn't disappoint. Amazing food, endless sunshine, and a vibrant, bustling city.
We chose Florence because our friends recently moved to Cortona, a city close by, and they were able to drive up and meet us. The Airbnb we found was jaw-dropping: a 5th story penthouse that looked out on the Duomo and various gardens/rooftops, with a washing machine (if you've ever traveled for more than a week you know how important this is!), jacuzzi tubs, and a private rooftop terrace with a panoramic view of the city.
We decided to cook dinner one of the nights we were there. After picking up some Tuscan reds from the corner shop, we headed to the San Lorenzo market to pick up our dinner ingredients.
When in Italy, you eat pasta. So we bought some fresh pasta from a vendor at the market, fresh tomatoes, sweet onions, garlic, and basil. We also got a can of San Marzano tomatoes, fresh baked crusty bread, buffalo mozzarella, pecorino, and brined olives.
We drank a few Aperol Spritzes while our red sauce simmered on the stove. After everything was ready, we set up our meal on the terrace and ate, drank, and watched the sunset. That day is one of the highlights of our trip, and I will always smile when I think back to it.
Some of the other fun things we did in Italy were:
Eating the world's best panino at All'Antico Vinaio
Rasputin; Florence's very own speakeasy. It was something of a mystery trying to find/get in, but it added to the excitement. Their service was wonderful. Our bartender (Andrea?) was so charming, and event wrote down a bunch of cocktail bar recommendations for us. They serve the cutest bar snacks (olives, flat crackers, and artichoke hearts) and their cocktail menu was on point. Definitely would go again!
Giardino di Boboli is an enormous royal sculpture garden with several breathtaking views of the city. It is considered to be an open-air museum due to the size and history of the gardens. Apparently it is the prototype that inspired Versailles, and at one time the Medici family lived there.
Definitely wear your hiking shoes/sneakers and pack a picnic lunch. There are plenty of shaded areas full of rose bushes and fruit trees to give refuge from the Florentine sun, which is a scorcher in the summer!
Dinner on the tiny patio of a tiny restaurant down a winding street. I can't even remember the name of the place we did this; we walked for about 20 minutes to find a place on my list that turned out to be closed. We wandered down a few twisting alleys, stopping to check out a few menus before we decided on this place. There were 4 or 5 tiny candlelit tables taking up half of the street, and a group of Italian laughing a drinking wine next to us. We all ordered different pasta dishes (I had the pasta al tartufo – white sauce with shaved truffles) and a carafe of house red. We ate waaaay too much and then walked it all off crossing the Ponte Vecchio to get home.
I definitely recommend you wear walking shoes for Florence, (and most of Europe in general) because seeing the city on foot is way more beautiful and personal than going from your front door, to a taxi, to your destination. We stumbled upon so many cute shops and gelato stands on our walks. Italy is obviously one of the worlds biggest leather suppliers, so (if you're not opposed to wearing leather, obviously) it's a great place to buy a quality leather bag or sandals for way cheaper than the U.S.
Outfit details: vintage polka dot dress, and linen shirt, Soludos espadrilles, Miu Miu sunglasses, H&M earrings, Palais de Tokyo tote from Paris.