Greetings Internet Stranger, and welcome to a 24 hours in Florence itinerary. Florence, Italy is truly one of the most stunning and magical places on the planet. When you are here, it’s like stepping back into the Renaissance, only with much better food and personal hygiene.
We’re going to dive headfirst into culture today, and I’ll take you on a fabulous journey of some of the best sides of beef in Italy. (And by that, I mean the hunkiest marble sculptures. But I also mean steak. Let’s go!)
24 Hours in Florence Itinerary
Where to Stay?
Florence is jam-packed with amazing attractions, so you’ll want to stay right in the thick of things. That’s why I recommend the Hotel Pendini. It has the perfect location just a few minutes away from places like the Uffizi Gallery and Florence Cathedral. The room was so charming and comfortable, yet still affordable. And best of all, a yummy breakfast was included. I just love when a hotel provides an excellent breakfast so that I can hit the ground running for my day of adventure.
24 Hours in Florence Itinerary
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today on our 24 hours in Florence itinerary. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Italy is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, if you’re American, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with American plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
24 Hours in Florence Itinerary
Morning: Best of Florence Walking Tour
There’s so much amazing art to see in Florence that it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why I recommend the City Wonders Best of Florence Walking Tour. You’ll have a fun and knowledgeable guide lead you around many of the most beautiful parts of the city. It really is a perfect orientation to Firenze. Plus, you get to skip the line at the Accademia Gallery and see Michelangelo’s David, which is possibly the most famous sculpture in the world.
I never like to spoil all the secrets of a tour because then what would be the point in taking it? But I do want to give you a taste of what to expect with…
Approximately Top 5: 24 Hours in Florence Itinerary
1) The David!
You simply can’t visit Florence without seeing the most famous Italian stallion there is. Michelangelo’s David is even more impressive in person that he is in this slightly blurry photo. He is so magnificently sculpted that he almost looks like he will step off the pedestal and demand that you admire his beauty. (He’s also so vain that he probably thinks this blog post is about him.)
Our guide, whom I shall call Catherine, said that Michelangelo did make the head and hands outsized. He was a genius so he must have done it on purpose but no one knows exactly why. No one knows if this is meant to be David before or after he killed Goliath, but all of the group thought it was before because he seems tense like he is about to go into battle.
Yup. That’s definitely the booty of someone who is about to go into battle with a giant.
2) Go Medieval!
There is also plenty of medieval art in the Accademia and Catherine did a great job explaining how the style was different. It’s more exclusively religious than the art of the Renaissance. Plus the art of the Renaissance was more realistic in style.
And of course, the art of the Renaissance had a lot more butts in it. This blog always aims to keep it classy!
3) Medici Medici Medici
Of course we can’t have a 24 hours in Florence itinerary without getting to know the most famous family in Florence, the Medicis. The Medicis were famous for a lot of things: sponsoring great artists, getting kicked out of Florence and then allowed back in, poisoning their enemies, and having a secret walkway in between all their palaces so they wouldn’t have to walk past a lot of stinky butchers.
People say the Medicis had a lot of balls–because the balls were their family symbol!
Keep an eye out for those Medici balls all over Florence!
4) The Duomo
Of course you can’t have a 24 hours in Florence itinerary without visiting the famous Florence Cathedral, aka the Duomo. It is famous for its massive dome, being made out of many kinds of marble and the Doors. Catherine said at the time it was thought to be impossible to make a dome this big, but the great Brunelleschi did it.
No one has been able to top him since. It is still the largest masonry dome in the world. So let’s not be smug about how much better we were than people in the past. (Except when it comes to dental hygiene.)
It’s not possible to visit the inside of the Duomo on this tour because of time and money, but fear not! We will enter that legendary dome on our next 24 hours in Florence itinerary.
5) Church and Museum of Orsanmichele
Most of the stops on this tour are incredibly famous, so I’m glad we were able to stop in a more hidden gem, the Church and Museum of Orsanmichele. It dates all the way back to the 14th century, and there is so much gold inside that it dazzles the eye. Catherine pointed out that back in the Medieval Times, there wasn’t electricity, and they wanted there to be as much light as possible in the church because light was a symbol of God. That’s why they decided to use all this gold.
Does this mean next time there’s a blackout, I can just use some gold to see in the dark? Seems reasonable to me.
Lunch is not included on the tour, but that’s what I’m here for! Let’s head to Gustarium for some of the most amazing pizza you’ll ever put in your face. This pizza is a true work of art, and it really couldn’t be more different from our famous slices back home in NYC. Get there at 12 noon exactly when it opens or you’ll have to wait on an endless line.
They serve you the pizza by hacking off a certain amount from these GIANT freshly made pizzas up front and then weighing it. I wanted two different kinds but that would have been way too heavy, so instead I settled for the beautiful fig and prosciutto. This flavor is so Italian, I started to hope that I would look more like Sophia Loren by the time I was done eating. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.)
What’s an Italian lunch without gelato? So let’s stop at the legendary Vivoli for some artisanal ice cream with only the very finest of ingredients. It’s like the Sophia Loren of ice creams. I recommend the Fantasia flavor, especially if you like coconut.
24 Hours in Florence Itinerary
Afternoon: Uffizi Gallery
Now I know we visited the Accademia in the morning, and ordinarily I don’t suggest visiting two museums in one day. But our trip to see the David was just a quick walkthrough the museum, not an actual Full-On Museum Experience. And this is Florence! The birthplace of the Renaissance! If you’re not going to have a Full-On Museum Experience here, where will you have one?
That’s why I recommend spending the afternoon in the Uffizi Gallery. It’s one of the most beautiful museums in the world. Even the ceilings are works of art!
There are so many famous works of art that if I stopped to lecture you about all of them, we would be here all day. So instead I’ll pique your interest with…
Three Fun Facts: Uffizi Gallery
1) What’s the Most Famous Work of Art in the Uffizi?
That would probably be Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. This work has been parodied an infinite number of times; I first saw it as the cover of a collection of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. (Bullwinkle J. Moose played the role of Venus.) But while some famous works of art can be a little underwhelming in person–looking your way, Mona Lisa–the Birth of Venus is totally spectacular. I promise my photo above doesn’t do it justice.
Want even more proof that this painting is legendary? When I visited the Uffizi, there was a contemporary piece of art on display in the museum about people who come to see the Birth of Venus. The video was just footage of people looking at this work by Botticelli.
2) Are All the Paintings By Old White Dudes?
The Uffizi mostly seemed to feature medieval and Renaissance-era Italian art so—that’s mostly going to be white dudes. But don’t miss this spectacular painting, Judith and Holofernes, by Lady Painter Extraordinaire Artemisia Gentileschi. She is a little later than the Renaissance because she worked during the 16th century. She was the first woman to be admitted into the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence.
Apparently in this painting Judith, aka the lady decapitating the gentleman, is meant to be Gentileschi herself. She really seems like an all around badass lady. It’s a shame we could never be friends because of the whole age difference thing.
3) What’s the Best Painting Title in the Uffizi?
I vote for Madonna of the Goldfinch, which sounds like a British murder mystery novel from the 1950s to me. But instead it is this flawlessly painted work by Raphael depicting the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and baby John the Baptist. People tend to think that Medieval art was about religion and Renaissance art was about the beautiful human body and Classical themes. And while it’s true that you can see both Greek gods and very classy nudity in Renaissance paintings like Birth of Venus, there were plenty of religious themes in Renaissance painting.
I always try to feature Raphael on this blog whenever possible because I feel a bit sorry for him. He was supremely talented but often overshadowed by his more famous competitor Michelangelo. I hear that if you listen carefully, you can hear Raphael’s ghost saying, “All I hear all day long is how great Michelangelo is at this or how wonderful Michelangelo did that, Michelangelo, Michelangelo, Michelangelo!”
24 Hour Treasure
My favorite painting in the Uffizi is probably the Diptych of Duke Federico da Montefeltro and Duchess Battista Sforza of Urbino by Piero della Francesca. Duke Federico, whom I like to call Freddy the Nose, just has a face with so much character! Plus the Duke and Duchess look impressive presented this way in front of their vast landholdings.
I feel like you could make a great Netflix series about these two scheming and dominating their way around Renaissance Italy. It could be called Castello di carte.
24 Hours in Florence Itinerary
Evening: Florence Sunset Food Tour
One of the most wonderful things about Italy is that each region has its own special delicacies. And Florence is in Tuscany, which is arguably the best food region in all of Italy. But it can be hard as a visitor to Florence to know what the truly local foods are.
That’s why I recommend the Florence Sunset Food Tour. It’s offered by Eating Europe, a company I have used several times and always been happy with. And on this tour, your local guide will introduce you to all of the amazing treats in the city that you wouldn’t be able to find on your own. I don’t want to spoil all the tour’s secrets, but I will spoil your appetite with…
Approximately Top 5: Florence Sunset Food Tour
1) Negroni O’Clock
Our first stop of the evening was at a spiffy local bar to learn the art of mixing a Negroni. This cocktail is popular all over the world now, but it was invented in Florence by a Count Negroni. Apparently he didn’t think the Americano cocktail was strong enough, so he switched out the soda water for gin. Now that’s a real Italian Stallion!
A Negroni is super simple to make: just mix equal parts gin, red Vermouth, and Campari. And presto! A cocktail simple enough for a baby to make, if that baby is a real lush.
Look how pretty that drink is. Pro Tip: they tell you that you get one drink, but these ingredients are enough for two Negronis. Make Count Negroni proud and drink them both!
2) Cheese Please
Of course what you want after an aperitif is a little antipasto, so let’s head to a family-run cheese and salami shop. The owners spoke almost no English, so you know it’s authentic.
We nibbled on many of their wares, but I especially recommend the finocchio which is the salami with fennel. This is a truly Italian flavor that you won’t find in just any deli.
3) Appetizers Galore
The snacking continued with some lovely toasts with lard on them. (Yes, that’s bread with fat on top. You eat bread with butter, don’t you? This isn’t any different.) The texture of the lard weirded out some members of the tour group, but as someone whose family comes from the South, I say lard makes everything better. (Fun fact! “Lard makes everything better” is actually Mississippi’s state slogan.)
Ready for adventure? How about a little tripe trifle? Tripe is cow stomach, and here it is prepared in a soup. It’s real hearty peasant food from a time when people needed to use every part of the animal. So I think this is a beautiful dish that makes you truly appreciate human resourcefulness and ingenuity. Tripe has a pungent taste that’s not for everyone, but the whole fun of a food tour is that you get to try new things without spending money on a whole dish you might not want.
In case you’re not so crazy about the tripe, we also noshed on some more crowd pleasing panzanella, which is a summer salad made with bread and tomatoes, and if you don’t like bread and tomatoes, you are in the wrong country.
Since this is Tuscany, we washed all the delicious eats down with the famous local wine, Chianti. Of course I had to do my best Hannibal Lecter and say that a census taker tried to test me and I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. But this did not impress the guide because she said she has heard this many times before. <rodneydangerfield> I don’t get no respect! </rodneydangerfield>
4) Florentine Steak
This is the piece de resistance of the entire meal. We got the kitchen to ourselves as we watched them prepare, cook, and serve this glorious piece of meat. Apparently the cut of the steak has to be T-bone, and it has to be ginormous, or it’s not really Florentine steak.
As we waited for the steak to cook, our guide showed us a video of a sporting event called Calcio Storico Fiorentino which is played every St. John’s Day in Florence. (St. John is patron saint of the city, and his saint’s day is June 24.) It is an insane combination of soccer, rugby, and wrestling, so you need to be incredibly fit and macho to do it well. You know who I bet would have excelled at this sport? Count Negroni.
You might notice that my gorgeous piece of steak is very rare on the inside, but that’s how it’s meant to be served. Respect the Florentine traditions and eat your steak red! It’s easier than trying to do soccer, rugby, and wresting all at the same time.
After all that eating, we’re not going to need anything major for dessert, just a simple biscotti. Some people really hate biscotti because they can be dry–the name means twice cooked after all. But biscotti come from Tuscany originally, and so we have to have them here. These biscotti weren’t dry at all, but the best way to moisten a biscotto is to dip it in some sweet wine called vin santo (also local to Tuscany). A perfect ending to a perfect Florentine meal!
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Florence Itinerary!
What would you do on a 24 hours in Florence itinerary? Does any city have better museums than Florence? And who’s tougher: Count Negroni or Chuck Norris? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a 24 hours in Florence itinerary.