48 hours in… Florence
By Tamara Hinson – October 2019 – 3 minute read
How to spend two days in this truffle-scented city, famous for its Renaissance architecture, aperitivo-soaked happy hours and fantastic food
Day 1: Culture & coffee
Morning: Start with a stroll around Piazza della Repubblica, one of Florence’s many elegant squares, and a spin on its historic wooden carousel, with its beautifully-painted horses. The square has a colourful past: it was a Roman forum before becoming Florence’s Jewish ghetto in the sixteenth century.
For a caffeine fix, head to Caffè Gilli, which dates back to 1733 and has always been a meeting place for intellectuals and artists.
From here, it’s a short walk to the city’s finest museums, such as the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, founded in 1255 and famous for its enormous collection of sculptures, many of which date back to Roman and Byzantine times; the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze, home of Michelangelo's David sculpture; and the Medici Chapels and Church of San Lorenzo, the official place of worship of the Medici family, who were former rulers of Tuscany.
Afternoon: Enjoy a late, light lunch at Caffè Rivoire, founded in 1872 by Enrico Rivoire, a chocolatier to the Savoy royal family which ruled Italy between 1861 and 1946. Don’t forget to try the café’s unique twist on the negroni – the Campari, gin and vermouth-based cocktail invented here in 1919. The one at Caffè Rivoire comes with a tiny shot of negroni jelly.
Afterwards, enjoy some retail therapy. Avoid the busiest squares – unless you crave an apron adorned with the nether regions of Michelangelo’s David – and head to smaller streets such as Borgo Ognissanti to stock up on hand-painted ceramics and brightly-coloured glassware.
Evening: The negronis served at the Irene Bar at the Piazza della Repubblica’s Hotel Savoy are legendary. Surrounded by colourful décor from Italian fashion house Emilio Pucci, sip the signature Negroni Riserva, an orange peel and cardamom-infused blend.
Day 2: Truffles & topiary
Morning: No visit to Florence is complete without a look inside Il Duomo di Firenze, otherwise known as the Santa Maria del Fiore. Topped by a huge dome, it’s the world’s third-largest church: 153 metres long, 90 metres wide and 90 metres high. Clamber up the 463 steps to the top of the dome, or tackle the equally energy-sapping ascent to the top of Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower) for unbeatable views over the Duomo itself.
Afternoon: Make time for an unplanned wander about the city's labyrinthine streets – this is where its best bits are. Start at the Four Seasons Florence for an amble through its sprawling grounds, Florence’s biggest private garden. It has enormous sculptures (the tutu-wearing hippo is my favourite), ancient beech trees and beautiful fountains. Close by is the Museum of San Marco, a former Dominican convent with renaissance architecture.
Evening: Florence’s NH Firenze’s Savini Tartufi restaurant is the place for truffles. I recommend the octopus, leeks and lemon infusion, finished with either bianchetto truffle or precious black truffle, before a truffle-drizzled steak and a truffle tiramisu, washed down with a truffle beer. Even the décor is truffle-themed – the photo on the wall is of an Italian dog which discovered one of the world’s largest truffles.
Where to book it
Where to book it Inghams has a three-night Florence break, with accommodation at the four-star Grand Hotel Baglioni, flights from London to Florence and airport transfers starts from £549pp, based on two people sharing.