When I lived in Florence, my apartment was in the Oltrarno neighbourhood, south of the Arno River. Although a day trip to Florence can easily keep you in the city’s busy tourist centre in the north, it’s worth the walk across one of the cities historic bridges. I’d recommend at least a half-day to explore the area, although you could easily fill a day at a relaxed pace.
The 16th-century gardens are located directly behind the Pitti Palace. I have amazing memories of my first trip to Florence, running within the garden’s high walls as the sun set one spring.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Grab a bottle of wine and sit on the steps of the church as the sun goes down. A good spot to hang out with restaurants and bars along the piazza.
If the weather is nice and you want to do a walk, go up to San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo. Try to time it so you head all the way up to San Miniato to look around (it’s about a half hour walk from the river), then walk back down to Piazzale Michelangelo as the sun is going down. There are bars in the piazzale where you can sit and have a drink with a beautiful view of Florence.
Via de’ Vellutini, 1r, 50125 Firenze, Italy
Cozy with great food. There’s also a great gelato place and bar in the same piazza.
Via Maggio, 46R, 50125 Firenze, Italy
Some of the best pizza in Florence
Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco
Borgo San Iacopo, 43R, 50125 Firenze, Italy
+39 055 215706 (make a reservation if it’s a weekend)
More expensive than other options listed here, but good for a treat.
Gelato & Dessert
Gelateria la Carraia
Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25-red, 50124 Firenze, Italy
Excellent gelato at the food of Ponte La Carraia (Carraia Bridge).
In Italy, the best gelato is served at gelaterias that keep their gelato covered with metal lids, or if open, level the gelato as high as the top of the container. Take a pass on the shops piling it high with decorative flourishes. If you are looking for shops that make their own gelato, look for the banana flavour. It should be a brown colour, like a ripe unpeeled banana. If it’s bright yellow, they likely add food colouring.
Via dell’Orto, 12, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
An amazing cake and pastry shop, on the way from the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine to the Porta di San Frediano.
A few tips for north of the river
Via del Campanile, 2, 50122 Firenze, Italy
The best gelato in Florence, located in the centre.
Via del Proconsolo, 39r, 50122 Firenze, Italy
This casual restaurant is one of the more reasonably priced spots to sit down for a meal in the historic centre. Good for lunch or dinner. Might be closed early in the week.