City Guide: Florence


city guide main The seventh in our new City Guide series, this travel guide to Florence, Italy, features the most pertinent information about the area. Use the menu below to jump among sections for suggestions on where to stay, insider tips, restaurant recommendations and more.


 Florence City Overview & Map

View of Uffizi Gallery from Ponte Vecchio
View of Uffizi Gallery from Ponte Vecchio

Perhaps the most agreeable thing about Florence is its manageable size, with nothing of conspicuous interest being much more than a 20-minute walk away. The city’s crown jewel is its magnificent cathedral topped by Brunelleschi’s extraordinary dome. At the heart of the city is the incomparable Uffizi Gallery, founded by a Medici bequest. And located on a famously scenic height above Florence, five miles from the city center, is the exquisite hill town of Fiesole.

 Florence Travel Tips

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

When to visit, tastemaker tips and what to do in Florence.

When to Visit Florence

Because of its location in the Arno River Valley, Florence can be hot and humid from June to August. April, May, September and October offer the best combination of fine weather and thinner crowds.

Tastemaker Tips

Want to experience Florence like an insider? Follow these tips from notable individuals in the travel, design, food, fashion and hospitality industry.

Andrew Harper, Editor in Chief of The Hideaway Report, Andrew Harper Travel

Andrew HarperWhen I’ve had my fill of museums and galleries after a few days in Florence, I love to spend a morning at the lively Mercato Alimentare Sant’Ambrogio in the Piazza Ghiberti for a change of pace. The stalls at this popular market sell all kinds of Tuscan delicacies, including olive oil, Pecorino cheese, charcuterie, dried wild mushrooms and more. It’s much less touristy than the Mercato Centrale, the city’s main market, and there’s also a small, simple, inexpensive restaurant, Trattoria da Rocco, that’s a great spot for a bona fide Florentine lunch.

No visit to Florence is complete without a stop at the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the herbalist, perfumer and pharmacy founded in 1612 and located in a former Dominican monastery. But for handmade perfumes, creams and other cosmetics, head for the boutique of Dr. Vranjes, another herbalist perfumer, which is where the Florentines themselves tend to go.

  Hotels: Where to Stay in Florence

The St. Regis Florence
The St. Regis Florence

The hotel choice in Florence is between the city itself and the hill town of Fiesole. We suggest the city in winter, but in other seasons, head for the hills to escape the heat and humidity, and enjoy the astonishing view.

  Restaurants: Where to Eat in Florence

Biscotti to dip in a glass of just-sweet Vin Santo at Cammillo Trattoria
Biscotti to dip in a glass of just-sweet Vin Santo at Cammillo Trattoria

Dining in Florence is about finding superbly rendered Tuscan classics prepared with seasonal, top-quality ingredients. Seek out pappa al pomodoro (a hearty tomato and bread soup), bistecca alla fiorentina (grilled Chianina beef with rosemary and olive oil) and house-made pastas.

Buca dell'Orafo

I am not in the habit of recommending hole-in-the-wall places to Harper subscribers, but this restaurant is exactly that. Buca literally means “hole,” but the entire phrase can be translated as “goldsmith’s cave.” Just a few paces from the Ponte Vecchio, you will see the uninspiring entrance to this subterranean restaurant. Owned by the Monni family, this intimate and charming place serves comfort food of a high order. Closed Sundays.

Cammillo Trattoria

This exceptional trattoria provides a warm welcome, a lively crowd and uncomplicated food. On a recent visit, we began with fettuccine hidden beneath fragrant shavings of white truffles. For the main course, I opted for bistecca alla fiorentina, a thick T-bone. Simply seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil, the steak was grilled rare, sliced and served with sautéed porcini mushrooms. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


This unpretentious restaurant is located next to the St. Ambrogio food market. Chef/owner Fabio Picchi presents a menu of traditional Tuscan fare with dishes such as pappa, salt cod with garlic bruschetta, and his signature ricotta, pesto and potato soufflé. The less expensive Trattoria Cibrèo next door is also worth a lunchtime visit. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Enoteca Pinchiorri

Pink tablecloths, lemon-colored walls and antique furniture create a gracious and refined setting for chef Annie Féolde’s cucina nuova and traditional Tuscan cuisine at this renowned Michelin three-star establishment. Among my favorite delicacies: paccheri (Neapolitan pasta tubes) with cardoons, thyme and pigeon ragout; polenta agnolotti with braised stockfish; grilled sea scallops with celery root, quince and rosemary; and suckling pig accompanied by Jerusalem artichokes and mustard seed-studded shallots. The remarkable wine cellar contains more than 4,500 Italian and foreign vintages. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Io Osteria Personale

Brick walls and low light create a warm,relaxed setting in which to discover the excellent contemporary Tuscan cooking of chef Matteo Fantini. Committed to using only local seasonal produce, Fantini changes his menu regularly, but dishes such as poached egg with raw red prawns, herring caviar, lemon thyme and a cream of Jerusalem artichokes as well as pork fillet with chestnut purée and turnip greens in a red-wine reduction show off his culinary imagination. Closed Sundays.

Osteria de' Benci

This animated trattoria serves generous portions of Tuscan classics such as spaghetti dell’ubriacone (cooked in red wine and sauced with a mixture of sautéed garlic, parsley and peperoncino). Don’t miss the charcuterie that includes sublime cold cuts such as fennel-scented salami and wild-boar ham.

Osteria dei Pazzi

Paolo Paroli is a gracious host at this osteria near the Piazza Santa Croce. The cooking is excellent; I enjoyed dishes such as ravioli stuffed with veal and buffalo milk ricotta, and grilled Chianina beef.

Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori

Florentines like to keep this simple little trattoria a closely guarded secret, since it serves superb Tuscan comfort food such as pasta fagioli (with beans) and zucchini stuffed with veal. Closed Wednesdays and Sunday evenings.

  Things to Do: Sightseeing in Florence

Replica of David in the sculpture's original position, in front of the Palazzo della Signoria
Replica of David in the sculpture's original position, in front of the Palazzo della Signoria

Don't overlook these iconic sightseeing attractions while visiting Florence.

  Italy: Florence Itinerary Suggestion

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio
Gelato Shop
Gelato Shop - © Thinkstock/Hooplion

Want to learn more about travel to Florence? Read our in-depth articles from The Harper Way, The Hideaway Report and Traveler Magazine on topics such as shopping, food, wine, art, culture and more.

  Trip Ideas: Destinations to visit from Florence

Seascape in Sicily
Seascape in Sicily - © ThinkStock/NiseriN

Discover the best destinations around Florence with recommendations for where to stay, dine and what to see from our team of well-traveled editors.

Stay tuned for more from our City Guide series, detailing what to do, eat and see, and where to stay, in Andrew Harper's favorite cities around the world.

Want our full travel guide to Italy? Purchase a copy in the Harper shop.

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By Hideaway Report Staff

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