Today's post is guest written by my dear friend Daniella. Through the last years, her travels have taken her through Europe, Australia and many tropical places. Spending time living in Italy years ago, her love of travel has taken her back once again to her favorite city of Florence. The founder of With Style & Grace, she captures her favorite fashion styles along with all of her travels. I'll let her take it from here..
This past month I have been more than enjoying my time back in Italy. Since living here years ago, this place has always had a way of making me feel right at home. Whether it be my life long obsession for all things fashion and food, this place is the mecca for both. So it makes perfect sense why I feel so welcomed every time I visit.
This trip I'm staying in Florence and Venice. I have quite a few people asking where my favorite places to shop/eat/site see are and considering I know these cities quite well, I thought I'd share them with you!
This post will be dedicated to Firenze (Florence)!
There is so much history in this city that I feel it is almost impossible to see it all in one trip, let alone two! But, you cannot make your first visit without seeing these key sites:
First off, The Duomo Saint Marks Cathedral. I highly recommend taking the long hike all the way to the top of the Duomo. It gives you an inside look into the intricate details of the cathedral and the view from the top is the best you'll find. It gives you a full 360 degree view looking over all of Florence and the surrounding hills of Tuscany. This is a MUST.
Also you can't go to Florence and not see Michelangelo's David.
Possibly one of the most preserved and valued works of art to date. I know looking at statues probably is not you forte (I know they aren't mine) but just to say you saw it in person is worth the trip.
Also I highly recommend taking a stroll across the Ponte Vecchio bridge. There's so many little shops on the other side of the Arno (the river that runs through Florence) and it's less touristy and cheaper on this side. My apartment is on this side of the river for a reason. Which leads me into restaurants; I could go all day on this one but I'll give you my top 3 based on the food and atmosphere. My absolute favorite restaurant is Santo Bevitore located on Via Santo Spirito. The food will take you to heaven and back with it's authentic Tuscan cuisine and the atmosphere is extremely warm and cozy (this is my go-to).
Also gelato, how could we forget gelato. My favorite gelatoria is located on the corner where Via Die Bardi and Lungarno Torrigiani meet. It's a little "hole in the wall" spot away from all the tourist areas where you'll end up paying 10 euros for 2 scoops instead of 3 euros. And it is much MUCH better and fresher. I make a trip at least twice a day her, Yup, Twice.
One of my favorite pasta dishes is found at Ristorante Cavallino
in the square of the Bargello. Theit pasta is homemade fresh on the spot and is to die for. The penne arribiatta and classic alfredo are a must. Tell Allessando I sent you ;)
One more restaurant that I love is Odeon Bistro located in Piazza degli Strozzi. Everything, and I mean everything, is a must have on their menu. I eat here almost everyday for lunch. My favorite dish is the prosciutto and mozzarella but like I said, anything is a sure bet on this menu.
Now for shopping! Okay clearly anything around the Duomo square is a great place to shop for name-brand pieces but if you want more unique Italian made items you really have to venture out from the main strip. I recommend walking the streets on the back side of the Duomo to find the little hidden gems and local designers. Also, if you're feeling savvy, take a stroll down Via della Vigna Nuova. I consider this to be the "Beverly Hills" of Florence. You'll find shops ranging from Roberto Cavalli, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Prada and a few other of the most famous designers to date. This is where it all started for them so it's fun to experience first hand these stores and the city that has inspired them.
If you take my advice and decide to venture out and explore things you've never seen or heard of, please do so, Florence is full of endless surprises . Getting lost here will allow you to find your way, your niche, places you wouldn't have ever experienced in "touristy places". With all that said, if you want to see the raw beauty of this city and all it has to offer, venture out a bit, and sometimes it's okay to be lost. :)
Daniella Grace, founder of http://www.withstyleandgrace.com/
Photos contributed by Daniella Grace unless otherwise stated.