24 Hours In Florence, Italy
Florence is one of those places that if you visit correctly you can cram in sight seeing and a ton of local recommendations , too. It’s funny how sometimes being crushed for time can really show us a unique view of the city. Our short 24 hour trip to the city led to the creation of - in my opinion - a perfect itinerary for 24 hours in Florence, Italy.
If you’re a fan of seeing the touristy sights that are Pinterest worthy but also love jumping into the small shops that the locals rave about, then follow this itinerary - you’ll get the most out of your 24 hours in Florence. And if you’re on the fence about taking that quick stop into the city of love I’m here to tell you to do it. No matter if you have 24 hours or 12, jump off the train and see the city for yourself. It’s one of my top favorite places to travel to still to this day - and I’m not the type to travel somewhere twice!
Every Italian Adventure Starts With Gelato And Pizza - in that order.
When our train pulled into the Firenze Santa Maria Novella station my sister and I decided to walk to our hotel. What better way to welcome yourself to a new city than by using your very own two feet, am I right? The walk took about 20 minutes to get to our hotel accommodations which was a bit longer than expected mostly due to the fact that we were walking on cobble stone streets - which I normally adore except this time I was rolling a bag behind me and well, things got a little trickier. Even so, I loved and would highly recommend starting your stay with a star lit walk into the city.
Plus, about 15 minutes into our walk I looked up to find the bright lights of a gelato store ahead and I just about sprinted to get into line. For those of you who know me well, know I have always had an obsession with ice cream - this was pre dairy free jaz - so I was in heaven. After I ate my gelato in - what my sister would call - one breath, we found a small hole-in-the-wall pizzeria shop right next to our bed and breakfast accommodations, First Class, grabbed a slice of pizza and got comfy in our new room.
A Day In The City - aka how much can we see.
One of my favorite parts about traveling to new cultures is finding the most mom-and-pop shops I can find that are local to the city. The best way I think to find these is by asking for recommendations from a local - on this specific day that local was my hotel receptionist. She directed me to a small coffee shop down the road where I I started my day out my favorite way, with a coffee and pastries. From there, I grabbed my breakfast and found a seat in the center of the square where I could eat and watch the local artists in front of the duomo. 10 out of 10 recommend this breakfast view.
The first stop of the day is the Duomo - or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The lines to climb to the top of the duomo were insanely long so the executive decision was made to climb to the top of the Giotto’s Bell Tower instead. We chose to do this instead of standing in the long lines mostly because we knew we had a few other places we wanted to see in Florence and the breathtaking view of the duomo from the Bell Tower was a perfect adventure for us. If you are wanting to climb the inside of the duomo I highly suggest buying tickets in advance and getting in line early - and by early I mean early, aka before 7 am. If early rising isn’t for you - join the club - then I recommend buying a ticket into the Bell Tower and enjoying the view of the duomo instead.
The climb to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower is an adventure in it of itself - and not one for the claustrophobic type. While you do need a ticket for this, you can buy these day of and the line to get in was almost non-existent compared to the duomo entrance. The steps start off large and roomy but - by no surprise - lasted forever and became so tiny that only one way of traffic could get through. But don’t let that deter you from going because the view at the top was well worth the hike up. There are a few stopping points so if you don’t like heights you can get high enough to see the amazing view of the city without having to go all of the way to the top - although I highly recommend trying to get to the top of the tower because duh look at that view. After catching our breath - yes the stairs had me winded - and taking so many pictures, we headed back down to ground level.
Next up is the Ponte Viecchio - aka the jewelry bridge. This bridge is where gold and jewelry trading all began. The Ponte Viecchio has everything from diamond earrings to fancy watches. If you’re looking for a large purchase to remember your trip by, here is where I recommend you do it. When you go home you’ll be able to say you have authentic Italian jewelry on your wrist!
After a quick pizza stop - yes more pizza don’t judge me I still dream about this pizza to date - we were off to the Church of Santa Croce - or Basilica di Santa Croce.
Now our friends told us this specific church isn’t always on the tourists must see list but I’m here to tell you that is definitely should be. The only problem is on this hot day I was wearing a sleeveless dress. In the church - actually most churches in Italy - out of respect you’re required to wear an outfit that covers your shoulders and goes down below your knees. I didn’t know this - shamelessly I clearly didn’t do my research - but fortunately they generously provided me with a cape to wear inside. Definitely keep in mind your outfit choice of the day when you’re visiting these churches.
Inside the Church of Santa Croce you can pay your respects to people like artist Michelangelo, scientist Galileo Galilei and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli. It’s a monumental and almost breathtaking moment to see the names of people who have influenced much of today’s society and one moment I highly recommend taking! After being star struck, the stained glass window piece caught everyones attention in the room. The dramatic size and detail of the window stops you in your tracks and basically forces you to reach for your camera to try - unsuccessfully - to capture the deep hues of the colors shining through. Once we got our pictures of these monumental moments, we relaxed in the courtyard before heading back to the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore - or Florence Cathedral.
The first thing I noticed about the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore - or Florence Cathedral - was the architecture and design. The ceiling was made up of small tiles - yes you read that right small tiny itsy bitsy tiles - and painted by artists Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari. Not only is this impressive art but remember that he had to get up there somehow and put it together himself - and trust me, the picture doesn’t do this piece of work justice. The ticket we purchased earlier in the day for Giotto’s Bell Tower tower included entrance into this cathedral, too - so when purchasing tickets, be sure to grab the one that will also get you into the Florence Cathedral.
After a long day you’re gonna be tired - or at least we were. We took a few minutes - and by few I mean 30 - to rest before we were off to go get an authentic Italian dinner.
If you take a walk around - what I call - duomo square you’ll be sure to find more than enough restaurant choices to choose from. We found a spot perfect for us with my favorite view of the duomo - Buca San Giovanni. We ordered our signature caprese salad - we got this everywhere we went and basically became the worlds harshest critics for caprese salads - and wine before we dove head first into some authentic Italian pasta.
Now you can’t forget dessert - luckily with dessert shops at basically every corner of the city this is hard to forget. We finished the day off with some cannolis - duh - and headed to bed.
Our Exit Strategy
The next morning our train was out of the station by 6 am. In very typical fashion, we were running late and had a nice jog to the train station with our bags rolling on the cobblestone streets behind us. Don’t be like us, plan accordingly and make sure you can leisurely walk at 5 in the morning to the Firenze Santa Maria Novella station, then maybe you’ll have time to grab a pastry and some well deserved coffee!
Here is an itinerary checklist I made for you to use while you’re walking around the city. Hopefully this helps to make sure you don’t forget to visit any of these amazing spots! Just right click and save to your phone so that you'll have it with you - cell phone service or not!