Birthplace of the Renaissance, and a city still radiating with some of the most important art, architecture, and sculptures of our time, it would be a shame to miss it. So, in the slight event you only find yourself for a single day, I will share my quick 18 hours so you can perhaps make the most of it.
I'm going to start with this - skip the multinational shopping which you can do back home when you bore of a routine life or the youthfulness and cool modern architecture around you, and take a moment to reflect on the magnitude of what was happening in the world some 500 years ago. You are in a city that was blossoming at that time with the rebirth of the beauty of the Classical era, when humanism was influencing artists and everything around them. And skip the over-hyped leather markets, laden with fake products and purses that look more 'made-in-China' than 'Made in Italy', as so many proclaim. Ok, I'll digress.
Most likely you'll be arriving in the afternoon and need to grab something quick and easy off the train. Da Nerbone is just a few minutes walk, on the bottom floor of the Mercato Centrale, where you will likely find a line if at peak hours, of people eager to get the minestrone, lampredotto sandwich, bollito or ribollita - all the best traditional goodies of Florentine cuisine. For those not daring enough to do the lampredotto, upstairs in the Mercato Centrale, will find you a plethora of other Italian options from croissants and pastries for breakfast, bruschetta, pizza, pasta, a wine bar and more...
Such a short time may not give you the ability to visit the famous Uffizi Gallery (but with a few days there, do not miss it), and the cupola was fully booked for 2 days when we arrived, but we climbed the bell tower of the Duomo for a quick workout to get our highs from a place still reminiscent of what it was 500+ years ago. If you can, I might opt for the cage-less views you get from Brunelleschi's cupola though, allowing you to be enchanted by the frescoes of Vasari and Zuccari.
If you can rent the same Airbnb as we did, do it! The building is from the 13th century and will require several flights of stairs, but what you'll find that awaits you is nothing short of jaw-dropping magic. Literally 360 degree breathtaking views from one of the highest balconies in Florence let you overlook the Duomo, Basilica Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio and Accademia. A rooftop terrace like this warrants the planning on one person's part to splurge on a great bottle of Champagne (I might suggest Krug) and a stop by a local salumeria to get some nice deli items as an aperitivo. Our added bonus - a rising full moon to admire meanwhile sipping on top of the world, watching the city fall dark leaving only the most prestigious sites fully illuminated. (if that's booked, this one won't disappoint either)
Night will fall and you may be forced to drop down into the real world of ants below. Recommended as the best Fiorentina in Florence was Perseus, which won't leave your typical meat lover hungry or dissatisfied but with a sad wine list of commercial Tuscan wines, we left 3/4 of a bottle to our neighbors to enjoy and began walking home, only to stumble into Gastronomia Galanti, home of one of Italy's Best Sommelier (and one of the most humble and nice people I might add). We perused the cellar full of vintage wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux and toyed with the idea of splurging on a second bottle of Krug 2002 for the terrace and left with an old bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee instead.
For your breakfast needs, there's a super swanky place called La Ménagère. And while the decor seems straight out of the hottest spot in NYC and the croissants were better than 90% of what you'll find in the average bar, the espresso fell short in my books (Mercato Centrale is a safe choice if needed if you're picky).
That's it. Stay tuned for the whirlwind trip and enjoy Firenze!
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