Eating and Shopping in Florence, Italy
Florence was a city that both Minh and I really liked. It has the traditional Italian charm with even better food than we found in Rome. Minh and I love to eat good food, so our opinions are more swayed to liking a place if the food is good. Everything in the city was also within walking distance so it never felt too much of a task to go out and explore the sights.
The apartment we stayed at was directly across from the Mercato Centrale in San Lorenzo. It has two levels. The bottom floor is a market that has various vendors selling fruit, fresh pasta, meat, cheese, olives, etc.
On the top floor, it’s an assortment of very trendy food stalls. It reminded me a lot of Anaheim Packing House back in California.
While exploring the bottom floor, there was a really long line of people waiting at a food stall called Da Nerbone. We looked it up on yelp and tripadvisor and it says they’re known for their tripe sandwich or Lampredotto.
We opted to get the tripe sans sandwich since we were getting a little tired of eating sandwiches. It was really good!
While we were eating, an older retired couple sat down next to us and asked us how we heard about the place. We told them we looked it up online and they told us they read about it in the Telegraph newspaper. The woman had a small flip spiral notepad with her notes from the Telegraph and had it written in beautiful cursive writing. It was a cute old school meets new school moment that shows good food will bring people together no matter their age!
The Duomo was also down the street from our apartment
While there, we were searching for the famous Bernini Bronze Doors. This is Minh’s favorite piece of Bernini’s but for some reason we couldn’t find it! We circled the whole Duomo and still couldn’t find it and figured maybe we were at the wrong site.
As we were walking back we saw an area under construction and bright bronze doors. We found it! Unfortunately since the building was under construction we couldn’t get up close to see it, but even from a distance it was amazing.
After seeing so many of his works in Rome, this really solidified that Bernini is definitely a favorite of ours. Wow wow wow. Even on a pair of flat panel doors, he managed to make everything so dimensional and detailed.
If you’re also looking to get some good shopping done in Italy, Florence is a great place to visit. There are numerous vendors selling leather goods ranging from jackets, belts, and purses.
There are also several high end stores within the city of Florence to cater to all budgets.
If that’s not enough, there’s even a high-end luxury outlet called The Mall about an hour bus ride away with stores like Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Fendi, Ferragamo, Versace, and Valentino. Florence is definitely a place where you can shop ’til you drop!
The Ufizzi Gallery was much larger than we’d anticipated, so be prepared to spend a few hours here and wear comfortable shoes!
There were lots of famous works from Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Rembrandt, and much more.
A really cool thing they had at the gallery were 3D printed images of some of the famous paintings. These are for the blind so that they can also experience and enjoy the art on display!
While at the Ufizzi Gallery, I saw this Leonardo Da Vinci fan boy who was really in awe of all the art around him.
While in Florence we had to try to adapt to the hours of meals in Italy. A quick background on Italian eating habits:
Breakfast (7A-11A) consisting of a cappucino and pastry
Lunch (1P-4P) The biggest meal of the day for Italians. Most stores and shops close down at lunchtime and reopen around 4PM.
Aperitivo (7-9P) A few light snacks and a cocktail.
Dinner (9-11P) If you see a dinner place busy before 9PM, it is filled with tourists, because Italians usually don’t eat dinner until late.
As you can see, Dinner is really late, so many bars and restaurants have Aperitivos. The way it works is you order a drink (at around 7-10 Euro/drink) and you get unlimited appetizers and food. Aperitivos are not meant to be your dinner, but just enough to hold you over before it’s dinner time at around 9PM.
Minh and I tried out a few Aperitivo places, but it was really difficult for us to adjust to the late eating habits. By the time we would get to the Aperitivo bar, we’d be ready to eat dinner already and eating a bunch of small appetizers wasn’t satisfying enough as a meal, but also ruined our dinner (maybe because we were so hungry that we ate too many appetizers during Aperitivo).
Despite our failed attempts at adapting to the Italian eating habits, we found some really good eats while in Florence.
Some notable places we went to were:
All’Antico Vinaio – A huge 5 Euro sandwich packed with all kinds of deliciousness.
A Kebab place similar to Halal Guys that was right outside of Mercato Centrale
Gelateria Perchè No! – A real gelato place with a really great fruit gelato selection!
We don’t have a picture of this one…we may have ate it all before remembering to take a photo (oops!). Instead, here’s a photo of some very fake gelato which I mentioned in this post. Real gelato should never look like this!
Florence quickly became one of our favorite cities in Italy. It has lots of history and art without the mobs of tourists you’ll find in Rome. In addition, the food is great and more affordable. It’s a place we’d like to visit again in the future and would highly recommend it to be a part of anyone’s Italy itinerary.