Florence – Where to Stay & Eat

Hi friends, welcome to my long awaited Italy vacation series! I started planning this trip in 2019 when Jon and I were planning to have our June 2020 Italian honeymoon. I didn’t get too far in the planning because an unpredictable global pandemic kept pushing back our trip, and it’s not fun cancelling dreamed about plans. We wanted to make sure we didn’t have any potential Covid related trip disruptions and 2023 finally felt like the right year for us. I excitedly got to planning our honeymoon 2.0 with my trusty excel, word doc, and Rick Steves travel books. We decided to start in Florence, head south to Rome, and end the trip relaxing and spending our anniversary in Positano. Neither of us had been to Italy and we were equally as excited for the food as the sightseeing. This trip had been built up so much over the last few years, but it was so worth the wait! I have a lot to post about and my plan is to start each city off with a post about logistics, hotels, and food, and then the rest will be the sights and excursions. Disclaimer: this post may cause hunger 😊

Jon and I took the subway to JFK for our Thursday night flight. I actually prefer taking the subway to JFK because the traffic always makes the cab ride longer. The meal was a chicken dish and the flight went by pretty quickly even though we only dozed for at most an hour or two. I finally watched Eat, Pray, Love after reading the book years ago. We didn’t get our beauty rest, but our excitement to finally be in Italy allowed us to persevere through the day.

Customs was quick and we headed to the Fiumicino Express train from the airport to Rome Termini. If you buy a train or bus ticket in Italy, remember to validate it. If you don’t validate, you could get a 50ish euro fine even though you paid for a ticket. We watched some videos about this because we didn’t want to start our trip out with a fine.

After getting to Rome Termini, we purchased our high-speed train tickets to Florence from a Trenitalia kiosk. I usually buy all our tickets ahead of time, but I wasn’t sure exactly what time we’d land and be at the station. Luckily, we didn’t have any issues finding open seats next to each other. We had an hour to kill so we headed to the café for some much-needed coffee and a croissant. If you need a bathroom at Termini there are some very clean ones downstairs. They cost one euro and you can pay with a tap of your credit card if you don’t have any coins.

Waiting for our train track number to show on the big board was quite exciting. There was a large extended family (from Michigan) next to us all taking bets on what number it would be. Once the track number showed up it was a mad dash to our track because the trains don’t stop for too long. I loved the chaos and rush to get on the trains and I was very glad we only had our carry-ons and not big suitcases to lug around.

The train to Florence takes about an hour and a half and it was very smooth. As we got closer to Florence it started raining pretty hard and when we pulled into the station, it looked like it had snowed. Everyone on the train was so confused, but it was just an accumulation of hail. I knew the weather might be a bit rainy on our trip, but I wasn’t expecting massive hail accumulations. We braved the downpour and made it to our hotel to get organized.

When I’m looking for our hotel, I map out all of the places we want to visit and then pick somewhere that is walkable to everything. Florence was easy because you can get across town in about fifteen to twenty minutes, so I booked the Globus Urban Hotel. This was one of the smallest rooms we’ve stayed in, but the location, cleanliness, staff, and breakfast were all great. We’d definitely stay here again but I’d book a room with a larger bathroom.

Jon and I were famished by the time we got to Florence and we needed some pizza. We walked into Antica Da Michele for our first Italian meal and their Naples location was featured in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. It also won 1st place for the best artesian pizza chain in the world. They have US locations in LA, Santa Barbara, and a new one in NYC. We ordered some arancini, Napolentana pizza, and a fried pizza stuffed with pork, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. It was a good meal to start the trip with.

We had a big and late lunch, so we had our first gelato of the trip for dinner. Antica Gelateria Fiorentina was a block from our hotel and on our list. I went with Stracciatella and probably Dulce de Leche. Jon said I became a gelato snob on this trip, but we watched so many food tour videos explaining how to spot the real gelato, so it was engrained in my brain. Avoid any gelato that has unnatural coloring such as a very green pistachio and the super tall mounds of gelato. If it’s in closed metal containers that means it’s high-quality gelato. I could now happily cross off eat gelato in Italy on my 2023 bucket list 🙂

If you’re looking up where to eat in Florence, odds are you’ll find the viral sandwich shop All’Antico Vinaio. This spot blew up on Tik Tok and Instagram as being one of the best sandwiches in the world. There are four locations next to each other in Florence and there’s always a long line but it moves quick. Jon and I wanted to see what all the hype was about, and we were pretty hungry from a morning at the museum. We each got our own and thought the sandwiches were really good, but not life changing like people claim. The portions are large, the ingredients are fresh, and you can choose from about fifteen flavors or build your own. Some people say the sandwiches at Pino’s are better, but we didn’t have enough time to investigate.

You can’t go to Florence without having a Florentine Steak and we walked into one of the best restaurants in Florence, Trattoria Dall ‘Oste. We went around 6:30, early for dinner in Italy, but I’d definitely recommend making a reservation. A traditional Florentine steak is three to four fingers thick, weighs 1.2kg (about 2.5 pounds), and is served rare and topped with flaky sea salt. We paired ours with some Chianti wine and it was delicious!! They serve it on a blacktop so I flipped the pieces over so they could cook a little bit more. We finished the entire steak and it tasted outstanding. We could really tell the difference in the quality of meat so don’t be afraid of the rareness of the steak. Do as the Florentines do and you’ll have a delicious meal! We also shared the ragu that was good, but the star of the show was definitely the steak.

Gustarium serves Roman style pizza and you pay based on weight. Jon found this spot from Tripadvisor and it is rated as the #3 restaurant in Florence. The owner is so welcoming and explained his special cooking process of proofing the dough for 48 hours and also recommended slices for us. Based on some reviews it can sell out, so make sure you go early to try this yummy pizza.

La Strega Nocciola Gelateria Artigianale is going to conclude this post. We went here after our wine tour and this place had metal canisters of gelato so we knew it would be good. The only downside is you can’t see the flavors. We didn’t know this at the time, but they’re known for their Lavender gelato so give it a try for me if you go here.

We were only in Florence for two days and it wasn’t enough to try all the great spots on our list, but we had some delicious food! We also never made it to one of the famous wine windows, guess we’ll have to go back 😉 Stay tuned for some sights from Florence!

54 thoughts on “Florence – Where to Stay & Eat

  1. Starving now – off to raid the fridge!!!! Delighted that you finally made the trip Lissy …. Looking forward to hearing al about it..

  2. Ahhh Italy. Like France, there is no bad food and wine, only bad choices. Crazy to see so much hail on the ground in Florence, but the weather is crazy this year. Rooms and bathrooms in a good deal of Italy and France are either tiny or up too many flights of stairs. Thanks for sharing Lyssy. Allan

    1. Very true! I wish the US had the high quality of food/ingredients they do in Italy and France. That was very strange, I thought my jet lag was making me hallucinate. Yes, it makes it very hard for two people to get ready in the morning.

  3. I could easily book a trip to Italy just to sample some of its mouthwatering cuisines. It’s one of those countries where you really cannot go wrong no matter what you eat. I very much look forward to following your Italy vacation series! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    1. There is so much delicious food in Italy! I usually focus my planning on activities and not food, but not in Italy. I hope you enjoy the series and have a great day 🙂

    1. We had one morning of an absolute downpour, but luckily it stopped before our winery tour.

    1. It was a delicious trip! Jon was happy I left time in the schedule to sit down and enjoy some good food.

  4. That pizza looked gi-normous! Glad your trip got off to a good start.
    PS That bathroom is a candidate for my book “World’s Smallest Bathrooms!”

    1. The pizza was only like 12 euros too, in NYC that restaurant charges $25. It was very hard going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, my arm would run into the shower and cause a loud banging.

    1. I really loved Florence! What an incredible place to have been born and raised 🙂

      1. Yes, we were lucky to have a reason to “have to go” visit Nonnina (my grandmother). When she passed away, somehow that desire went away. I still go, but it’s different. We weren’t tourists, because we were always spending time with relatives, so for us a little different experience. Glad you went and had fun.

  5. Oh I am so glad I am still so full from lunch; this post could have been real dangerous otherwise! The food all looks so good.

  6. What flavors did you have on your second gelato trip? I agree with you. I got hooked on real gelato in Scotland in St. Andrews.

    1. Ah yes I remember we went to the place in St. Andrews and loved it! I think I got dark chocolate, salted caramel, and stracciatella. I think Jon got tiramisu and salted caramel.

  7. Yay- I am so excited for this series! I visited Italy once in 2017 and dream of going back to explore more of the country. I will be making a bucket list as I read through your posts! 😊💕🍦

    1. So glad you’re excited for this series! I’ll have lots for your list, we saw and ate a lot! It seems like Italy is a place people always want to go back and see more.

    1. I really liked Florence too, after starting there I couldn’t believe how busy Rome seemed.

  8. You certainly did your homework before heading to Italy! I’m like you in that I like to look up places to eat well before the trip happens! I had no idea that L’Antica da Michele has a location in LA, so I’ll have to check it out– definitely a slice of Italy from home! It’s been years since I last visited Florence, but it’s truly a gem of the Tuscany region. Can’t wait to see where else you went in Italy!

    1. I love planning for the trip as much as the actual trip itself! My list of places to try was overwhelmingly long. I want to try the NYC location but the price is 2.5x more which seems kind of crazy. Florence really is a gem, we loved it!

  9. We were in Florence last summer, so your post brings back fond memories of the delicious food. It looks like you guys ate well. I could sure go for a gelato in this heat!

    1. We really miss the gelato in Italy! Glad this brought back great memories 🙂

  10. What catches my eye amidst all of these photos is the one of Jon with his gelato. The street scene behind him is quintessential Italy. Tight cobbled street, flanked by three- or four-story buildings, colorful shutters, random plants and light fixtures, and enough wanderers where you have to watch where you’re going. Always a little claustrophobic, always a lot charming. Just as I remember it!

    1. That’s a really nice way to put it! I was nice and din’t post the pics of the gelato all over Jon’s facial hair. It reminded me of the dogs getting their Starbucks pup cup and having it all over their face 🙂

  11. The food looks marvellous! The mad dash to the train, reminds me of Paddington Station in London where they post the train track not long before you leave. It is a mad dash with a crowd trying to find get to your track and find your car. I don’t know how the elderly and those with health conditions make it to the trains on time.

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