Florence has several centuries of some of the world’s greatest culture crammed into a small area, which makes it both thrilling but also very touristy. I’ve been lucky enough to have been shown around by a Fiorentino, and so know some places that only locals go to. Below are a few favourites. Links take you to Google Maps locations.
I won’t list all the obvious places (book in advance for the Uffizi). Here instead are a few less obvious ones that I’ve been to more than once:
What better way to show off your wealth than with a really good chapel. Every time I’ve gone here with friends everyone’s fallen silent as we entered.
To think that monks slept with Fra Angelicos on the walls.
Fashion / shops
Italian Fashion is most associated with Milan, but Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Roberto Cavalli all come from Florence. Gucci and Ferragamo have museums.
Museum / restaurant. Separate from their shop.
Museum in the basement.
Pharmacy, but on an epic scale in many rooms.
One-off high-fashion department store.
Beautiful hand-crafted shoes. Expensive.
Textbook example of how to sell perfume.
I don’t really like this place, but it’s famous and right next to Sileno Cheloni, above, so you might as well take a look. Jeweller to the Pope.
Restaurants / cafés
Newly opened by friends of friends in a very cool area, centred around the Piazza Santo Spirito, which is largely overlooked by tourists. Rasputin bar, below, is also nearby, as are Neromo and Berberè San Frediano. If you’d like ice cream for dessert, go to Sbrino.
Friend just opened this. I haven’t been yet, but it’s likely to be fantastic. Book in advance.
Famous for its penne.
Best panini I’ve ever had. Worth the queue. Work out what you want before getting inside.
Very fancy café in the heart of the fashion district. Strangely affordable. Try their tartufi.
Finally, here’s a list of restaurants I’ve been recommended but haven’t been to yet, from West to East: Gesto, Il Latini, Oggi, Cammillo, 4 Leoni, Cantinetta Antinori, Fishing Lab, Brac, Inferno, Cibrèo, Vivo.
One of my favourite bars in the world. Kind of blasphemous. You’re not allowed to take photos inside, so above are a couple of photos of my Florentine guide on the way in. You need to book.
Don’t know if this is still running, but it was super-cool.