Exploring Florence


I'm sat on a plane back home after 5 nights in the stunning Florence. I'm not feeling too happy about it given it was in the early 30s in Italy and Manchester is 18 degrees with a chance of showers... But it seems the perfect opportunity to look back on my trip. I actually went to Florence a few years ago briefly because I was staying in Pisa and I'd had it in my mind ever since that I wanted to go back and 'do it properly'. This year I finally got the chance!


Day One

We landed around 7pm at Pisa airport, after which you have to get a shuttle bus to the train station and from there it's around an hour on the train to Florence. One of the things to remember if you don't usually get the overground train in Europe is that, in Tuscany at least, you have to validate your ticket before boarding. I must have done this previously on other trips but we honestly had no idea and got fined on the train. We were only fined €10 each but it can be as much as €60 so it's an expensive mistake to avoid... Anyway, by the time we arrived at Firenze Santa Maria Novella it must have been at least 9pm so we walked 10 minutes to our hotel and decided to eat there.




Outfit Details: 
Sunglasses, River Island - (current season but not online) similar here
Cami Top, River Island - no longer available, similar here
Shorts - Missguided buy here
Sandals, River Island - (current season but not online)  similar here 
Bag, Kate Spade - buy here

We stayed at the Kraft Hotel (odd name, I know!) which is around about a 15 minute walk to the Duomo, so slightly out of the centre in a quiet residential area that still has quite a lot of restaurants nearby. It was actually a really good deal and such a nice hotel so I'd recommend it if you are looking to visit Florence. It really is a beautiful hotel and the decor really fits in with the look and feel of the building from the outside and the rest of the city. It isn't a huge hotel; there are 4 floors of really spacious rooms and then upstairs there's a rooftop restaurant and bar, then you go up to the very top and there's a modest-sized pool. The roof garden where the restaurant is is just so pretty and we had a really nice meal as well as a drink or two that evening. The staff are really friendly and helpful at this hotel too.

Day Two

Our first proper full day! We obviously started with breakfast at the hotel (OK, but not amazing - the usual continental fare) before heading out for a wander. We didn't really have anything in mind for the first day; we just wanted to have a look around and get some ideas (thank you SO much for the recommendations on Instagram, by the way!) The natural place to start was the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. When I visited Florence a few years ago on my whistle-stop tour, I never got to see the cathedral. It really is one of the most stunning pieces of architecture I've ever seen. You could honestly look at it all day and still not be able to take in all the incredible details. You do have to cover your knees and shoulders to go inside so we decided to leave that for another day and instead wandered a little bit further to see another pretty church; the Basilica of Santa Croce.



We'd seen a nice cafe near the cathedral as well as a Sephora so decided to pop back towards that square around lunchtime and of course did a bit of shopping (a haul is on its way!) before getting lunch. The place was Caffe Mokarico where I had such a nice Caprese but I can't believe how much it cost me! (probably due to the location.) After lunch we decided to get an ice cream (€9!! Due to a miscommunication about the size I wanted...) at Icy Dot Wine before heading back to the hotel to relax for a couple of hours by the pool and plan our next few days.

The area around the hotel was really quiet despite having a lot of restaurants, I'm not sure if it was because it was during the week or because we were a bit early at 8pm but almost everywhere seemed empty or close to it! One of the top recommended places to eat in the area was a place called Papero Rosso so we decided to give it a go. It really was lovely; I had a great red wine, a lasagne (the Florentine version is vegetarian and not at all stodgy or heavy) and this really nice dessert with ice cream, amaretto and coffee. Then, as became tradition every evening, it was back to the hotel for a drink.


Outfit Details:
Dress, Missguided - buy here
Sandals, River Island - (current season but not online) similar here 
Bag, Kate Spade - buy here
Day Three


We finally had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore properly. Though you can do this on your own, there's always a long queue (as in, you'll be there for a good hour or two) which you get to skip if you go in as part of a guided tour, which costs around €15. So we decided it was worth it for that and coughed up, which to be honest was for the best anyway because it meant we got to learn all about the history of the building and the work that went into creating it. Though the inner dome is beautiful, it isn't as huge and breathtaking on the inside so for me (besides the knowledge I got from being on the tour) I'm not 100% sure it was worth it. I didn't climb up to the top because I'm claustrophobic and apparently the staircase up to the top is extremely cramped and due to the number of people you can be stuck there for a while not really moving - no thanks! I'm also not great with heights when it comes to cramped viewing platforms. However if you don't mind those things it probably would be worth it.





By this point we had a much better idea in our heads about what we'd like to do, so after lunch, we headed out towards one of the main areas in the city; Piazza della Signoria. Although we'd seen it last time, of course we had to go back to the Ponte Vecchio, an old bridge (the only one in Florence that survived both World Wars) lined with jewellery shops across the river that runs through the city. It's one of those must-see sights in Florence and if you need to cross the river anyway then you might as well use this bridge but it wasn't a highlight for me (perhaps partly because I'd seen it before anyway) due to it being so crowded.



Over on the other side of the river we visited the Boboli Gardens. It was quite annoying but we had to pay extra to get in because there was some sort of exhibition going on that we had no intention of seeing. I don't think we got the most out of this visit because it was the 3pm-5pm death-trap and walking around in the heat was pretty gruelling, however we did get to sit by the beautiful fountain centrepiece. 



Another of the best-rated restaurants in the area we stayed in was the Borderline (another strange name!) It was the first time during the trip that I got to tuck into one of my favourite dishes: swordfish. And it was great! I really like this restaurant, though (despite not eating meat!) I did object to the menu saying you're not to ask the chef to cook your meat any more than how it comes; at the end of the day you're the one paying for it!



Outfit Details:
Playsuit, Urban Outfitters - buy here
Sandals, River Island - (current season but not online) similar here 
Bag, Kate Spade - buy here
Day Four

We took the opportunity to spend a couple of hours relaxing by the pool in the morning. After being caught out yesterday we decided that after lunch we'd visit a couple of museums during the afternoon where it would be nice and cool! We did the Museum of Anthropology, which was nice but not a must-see for me. However if you want to get out of the sun for an hour it is an interesting collection of artefacts from around the world. We then headed a couple of minutes further along the street to the National Museum of Bargello. This was such a beautiful building and although it's billed as a museum it's more of an art gallery but exclusively for sculptures, statues, plates and so on. If you're interested in art then I'd definitely recommend it.



One food recommendation I was given was for the All'Antico Vinaio sandwich bar. It's a place a couple of minutes from the Uffizi gallery where it costs just €5 for a huge sandwich on freshly-made bread full of whatever cheese, meat or vegetables you want. There was a bit of a queue and you do have to walk and eat or sit in the street (cars couldn't even drive down the road because of how popular this place was!) however you really can't complain for the cheapest and nicest lunch I had over there. Afterwards I went to the Uffizi Gallery. You can get tickets relatively cheaply online if you book in advance or you can just buy an entrance ticket on your own, however I was disorganised so paid €35 for a tour (As you may have picked up, I much prefer hearing the backstory of what I'm looking at over just showing myself around). I had actually been to the Uffizi before however it was so long ago that I wanted revisit it. Unfortunately I'd barely stepped foot inside when the toe post on my flip flop snapped! I had to limp around the entire tour before hopping (literally...) to the closest H&M to buy new shoes so I could get home! Anyway, I still really enjoyed my visit and this is a must-see if you're in Florence with works by Michelangelo, Botticelli and Da Vinci. My favourite paintings were the two main Botticelli pieces: the Birth of Venus and Primavera. 



For dinner we went to Trattoria Armando, another one near the Kraft Hotel. It was quite a small restaurant with a bit of a 'family' atmosphere. I had an amazing fondue starter followed by a (filling!) soup, which was really great.



Outfit Details:
Dress, Missguided - out of stock in red, buy it in black here
Sandals, River Island - (current season but not online) similar here 
Bag, Topshop (current season but not online) similar

Day Five

We really wanted to go and see the views from Piazzale Michaelangelo so wisely decided to get a taxi there, because it is very much an uphill journey which would have been a bit silly for us to attempt in the heat given it was going to be a good 40 minutes. It was well worth it to see the city from the top.



As it was downhill and mainly shaded, we decided to walk back towards the main town and stopped off at Piazza della Repubblica where there are are lots of shops (we stopped off at Zara, obviously!) I'd been tipped off that at the top of the department store La Rinacente there's a cafe on the rooftop with great views. We got a nice (and pretty affordable) lunch there and it really did have amazing views of the Duomo.

In the afternoon we went to the Galileo Museum, which I'd been looking forward to. I've always been fascinated with how science, art, religion and politics interacted during the Renaissance and Florence is a centre for all of these things. I'd seen art, I'd seen its political centre, I'd seen its religious hubs so I wanted to see a bit of science. This is an impressive collection of scientific instruments and equipment, mainly collected by the Medici family. It's a fairly quick one, which I can't imagine would take more than an hour or so for most people, but very interesting and well worth a visit.



Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to enjoy and hour or two of sun before dinner. This time we headed into the main part of Florence to a restaurant I'd seen earlier near the Bargello called the Fishing Lab. I honestly can't recommend it enough! As a pescetarian, I appreciate that seafood is often really expensive however this place does amazing fresh fish at a really affordable price point. The portions are pretty generous too! Overall I was so impressed with this place and if you love seafood I definitely recommend stopping by if you visit Florence. We followed it with one last rooftop drink at the hotel bar.

Home

The next morning it was time to head home. I had a lovely trip and definitely got to see so much more than last time but there's still plenty left for me to do next time I visit! It was also great to go on holiday with my mum as I'll be moving out soon (literally when this post goes up). If you'd like to see my Instagram posts with food and more from when I was over there, I've created a hashtag with them all, which you can check out here.


Have you ever been to Florence? What are your highlights of the city?





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36 comments

  1. Florence looks absolutely gorgeous, such a historic place!

    Parie x
    classandglitter.com

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  2. After reading this post makes me want to go to Florence even more now haha! and absolutely loving your outfits! :)

    Jasminesecret.com

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  3. Your outfits are all so gorgeous! Looks like you had a lovely time Jasmine :)
    Ambar | Her Little Loves

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  4. I absolutely adore Italy - I really want to do a weekend break to Turin next year, though Florence is high on my list! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

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  5. Oh my! It looks so dreamy! Great post
    Stacey White
    www.staceylouisewhite.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. I loved your photos Jasmine! Florence seems like a great place! I for sure want to hear the backstory everytime I visit a place and I prefer tours! Good luck with your moving!

    * also a little notice, thank you so much for your tips on flat lay photograpfy, I cannot express enough how much they helped me! Thank you so much girl you are truly amazing!
    Katerina xx
    http://p-s-kate.blogspot.gr/

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    1. Aw thank you and no problem at all I'm glad it was useful! xx

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  7. I would love love love to visit Florence, and after reading this, I'm even more desperate to go! Also, love all your outfits! x

    whatevawears.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you - definitely go if you can :) xx

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  8. I love that this post was so comprehensive and full of tips to visit Florence! I've never been there, but it's on my list (pretty much all of Italy is haha). It's great that you shared your favourite restaurants, your opinion on museums and the like. I really need to visit the Uffizi Gallery, it seems full of beautiful art. Your photos are amazing as well :D

    Julia x
    Last post: A Summer Manicure | http://juliaspeaksbeauty.blogspot.fr/2016/09/manicure-moment-last-summer-vibes.html

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    1. Ah Italy is probably my favourite country in Europe! xx

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  9. It looks like such a gorgeous city, glad you had a good time!

    Lauren Ashleigh xx

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  10. Your photos are beautiful. Ive always wanted to visit Florence.

    www.beautylifebecca.blogspot.co.uk

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  11. looks so beautiful! love the red dress xx

    http://claresloves.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. Thank you - it's an incredible place! xx

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  12. So envious right now! England is becoming dreary and lacklustre, I can't wait to be on hols! Love the little outfit snaps, the red dress and perfect flats is definitely my favourite. I've only been to Florence the once, and your post is certainly making me want to revisit

    www.Barely There Beauty.com | British-Korean Beauty & Lifestyle blog

    xx

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    1. I know what you mean haha it's such miserable weather now! Thank you - these sandals have been my most-worn of the summer in case it wasn't obvious :') xx

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  13. WOW just wow, it all looks incredible, your photography as always is incredible, but the location is just perfections!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  14. What a beautiful city.. Florence is 100% on my travel wish-list! You look lovely too. x

    Small&Blonde

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    1. I can't recommend it enough and thank you :) xx

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  15. Such a lovely place! Loved your outfits, x

    Kate | http://katealifestyle.blogspot.com

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  16. Girl you made me miss Florence. It's such a lovely place. Specially that Cathedral of Santa Maria, its marvelous. My mom almost cried at it majesty. And you look absolutely breathtaking in all pictures.

    Sam || Beautydetour

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    Replies
    1. It's incredible isn't it?! And thank you so much! xx

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  17. Oh I am so jealous! Italy, especially Florence is like my spiritual home haha! I'm sure validating train tickets is a European thing because we had to do that in Berlin as well. All these shots are gorgeous, and I really love that striped missguided dress!

    https://paigeunread.com

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  18. I love Florence. I think that there is no place like it on the planet that matches how beautiful it is.
    I go every year to visit my grandmother who lives there and it is always amazing!

    Danielle xx
    http://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

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  19. This is such a sentimental post for me because my family is actually from Florence, but I have not visited yet! I had planned this Fall but many things have happened the past months, unfortunately.

    It's interesting to read about other people's experiences traveling in cities either I know or in this case have grown up being told all about and shown pictures of and the sort etc. A big chunk of my family is still there, although some are in New York since they immigrated there first, but your pictures are just so very lovely. It's weird but I get a feeling of pride in a way when I hear that people have enjoyed their time in Florence, even though I have never been, because I am connected to it but am so far away haha I'm a double major in English and Humanities so for me even looking at your picture inside of the Duomo has me just so amazed! I've taken numerous art history classes about the renaissance and it must be so breathtaking to be in person actually visiting these sites.

    I don't know if you would have had time, but Vinci was not too far from where you were and is the birth place of Leonardo da Vinci. You can visit a museum dedicated to him and see all of his amazing sketches, machinery/ideas, and so on. You can also visit where he grew up like his house etc, I'm pretty sure there are some of his sketches there too.

    I loved all of your outfits! Looked like you were super comfy and breezy! :)

    I'm not surprised that it was dead around where you were and for that time! In Italy, it is usual to have dinner at a later time (say 8/9pm+) and esp for Tuscany it can be later in summer. Since there is the "siesta" time for closing down restaurants and opening them up again too, that factors in.

    Glad you had a fun time!

    xoxo
    www.hellohimawari.com

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    1. I can't recommend visiting there enough when you get the chance to go :) you could even do a tour around Tuscany or even the whole of Italy! The Duoma is incredible - it just sort of looms into view and you're left just thinking 'wow'.
      I did manage to see a couple of Da Vinci's works but sadly didn't get a chance to visit the museum. Next time...
      I think a lot of local people might have been away on holiday because we were eating from 8pm and even when we left around half 9/10 there didn't seem to be anyone around! xx

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  20. Florence is on my travel wishlist & I will definitely come back to this post! xx

    Beautylymin

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  21. I love that red dress you are wearing!

    I wanted so badly to go to Italy, and being the flights were practically dirt cheap from the UK, it was an opportune time.
    Now if I go, it will be in the thousands.... :((
    Angie | Chocolate & Lipstick | Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

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  22. Thank you for all your comments - Florence is such a stunning city :) xx

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  23. You are one lucky girl! I hope I get to see Florence one day soon
    Dora
    http://www.adropofindigo.com/

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