AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. These are their words! Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Florence!

Lodging:

  • Ad Astra is an incredible, if kooky place. It's an old Florence mansion that has been turned into a boutique hotel. If you're traveling with a partner or kids, this is the place to stay. It's just outside the city centre and is a quick walk to the heart of Florence. One of the fun things about this old mansion is that the staff is only there from 8 am to 8 pm. At night you have the run of the place. There is a big kitchen with snacks and drinks that you can help yourself to at night. The most incredible thing about the hotel is the garden. You can eat your breakfast or have a glass of wine on their beautiful terrace overlooking a manicured lawn. Check out the website before booking. I love the hotel, but to be honest, it was a little creepy by myself at night. That being said, this is 100 percent where I will bring my family to stay next time.
  • Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti was recommended on a Rick Steves video - charming, fabulous breakfast, quiet, good a/c; only a few blocks from the duomo so very centrally located. (Seconded!)
  • If you want an apartment, we stayed at this place and it was FANTASTIC! Great location on the Arno, with views of the Ponte Vecchio. The owner is an architect and she's done a great job with the interior design. https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p827364vb

Restaurants:

Activities:

  • Don't miss the designer outlet mall that's nearby. Buses leave every hour to take you there and back. It's a short drive to SERIOUS designers.
  • Dina is wonderful. LOVED everything about her. We only had a day in Florence and with her we saw a lot and had a great time. Highly recommend her. https://www.tourguideinflorence.com/it/testimonials
  • We happened upon this cool small museum: Salvatore Ferragao Museum. It’s cool.
  • It's an obvious recommendation but I loved the Uffizi Gallery. Very amazing if you like Italian Renaissance artwork and an amazing building too. I did get the skip the line tickets and think they're worth it if you'll be visiting on a weekend or in high season.
  • Walking the many steps in the Dome is one of my favorite things to do in Florence. And when you want an apertivo at the end of the day, THE best place is Procacci!
  • Don’t miss the Basilica di Santa Croce. Beautiful.
  • Climb up to the Piazzale Michelangelo-across the river from main part of the city. It was sweeping views of the city! Amazing.

Bonus Tips:

  • See David at night. No crowds, lines. Just you and handsome....
  • Florence is also known as the leather capital of Italy, so there a lot of places where you can purchase leather goods, if you are looking for something in particular.

Update!

A member's niece spent a year studying in Florence, and offered this amazing collection of tips and tricks. Thank you!

  • The first Sunday of every month is free museum day, so try to plan trips around this time and you can explore all the museums for free!
  • If you can only do one I would HIGHLY recommend the Pitti Palace. The museum it’s self a work of art, seeing the details of every room and the thousands of chandeliers.  The palace is filled with sculptures and paintings, then the second half is all dresses, beautiful ball gowns. Then finally the exterior is a massive garden, so personally I think you get the most art for your money.
  • Another museum that is breathtaking is the Medici chapel. The bottom shows the remains of the royal family, each encased in beautiful gold cases. And up the stairs the chapel is stunning.
  • One other museum that I highly recommend that isn’t on free museum day is the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
  • Hike to the top of the Michelangelo Piazza for sunrise and/or sunset! It’s the best overlook of the city and you encounter so many unique shops along the way!
  • Do a good tasting and/or a cooking class! There are many different ones you can do! My personal favorite tasting was of cheese, meat, and olive oil. We tasted the different seasons of olive oils, different saltiness of meats, and some fabulous cheese! Another great tour is the Craft Cocktail and Aperitivo Tour where you travel around the city to try some famous drinks.
  • The leather market is the an amazing experience! If you are shopping on the street you are able to negotiate. Walk the market first to see your options, then choose your price and stick to it because they WILL bend.
  • Via Faenza is called the street of surprises. Some of the best restaurants are found here, the hotels are all highly recommended and the street is always full of life! It’s also a 5 minute walk to the train station so a great place to stay if you also want to visit neighboring cities
  • If you want to climb the Duomo do not get tickets in front of the cathedral, you will pay a lot more and wait in a long line! Book online and you will have a time slot and pay a reasonable price for your ticket!

Restaurants that are a must include:

  • SandwiChic- Such an amazing panini shop! So many great options you can't go wrong. The bread is so fresh. The people who work in the shop are so helpful and friendly, they took the time to talk about the different panini options and can help you find what you want.
  • Brandolino-The most lovingly prepared and beautiful dining experience I had in Italy.  The food is beyond compare, freshly made with all the love you could want.  This is what foodie dreams are made of and will live on as a true brilliant light in the memory of our journey through Florence. Try the Lasagna or four cheese gnocchi.
  • GustaPizza- It's a pretty small restaurant located next to the Boboli Gardens/Pitti Palace. Even though there weren't that many tables and seats, they had an employee scouting for open tables, and our large group got one pretty quickly. Order a specialty or build your own!
  • Gelato was invented in Florence so some of the best while you are there! The saying is if the gelato is “stacked a mile high, walk on by”, it’s not going to be the best you can get and you will pay a lot more! I recommend Antica Gelateria Fiorentina.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, join the lively conversation!

Next, we'll be sharing tips for Rotterdam! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.