Travel Blog: Weekend in Florence
Looking to do a day trip or weekend in Florence from Milan? Mary Catherine Holcomb, teacher and expat living in Milan shares her travel tips for visiting Florence.
Third time’s the charm, right? It definitely is if we are referring to my third trip to the Tuscany region. As a teacher, I am fortunate enough to have some time to go on holidays throughout the school year, so during our recent “Ski Week,” a colleague and I made the great decision to check Florence and the surrounding area off our list – again! I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here about the alluring charm and magical pull that Florence has, and as I knew it would, it got me again. How is it possible that each time just gets better and better? I have a feeling that the vino and food help a bit.
HOW TO GET TO FLORENCE FROM MILAN
Even with pandemic restrictions, I think we can all agree those necessary but pesky rules do not mask the beauty and efficiency of European transportation. I always forget how relaxing a train ride can be: no crazy – oops, passionate – drivers or pedestrians to worry about! Just sit back and relax … After a quick and comfortable two-hour train ride via Italo Treno or Freccia Rossa from Milano Centrale to Firenze S.M.N., we made our arrival in the historical and breathtaking city of Florence. Bus rides are available too, but in my experience, the train ride has always been my first choice due to shorter travel time.
One way train tickets from Milan to Florence start at €49.90 ($54.30) – click here to see timetables and ticket prices. You can save on tickets by taking a slower train, but with the fast train, a quick day trip to Florence is even a possibility.
If you are flying in from a other destinations, major European airlines such as Swiss, Luftansa, Vueling, Air France and KLM fly in to Florence (FLR) Airport. See the KIWI flight booking app for best deals.
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE
With the plethora of travel and lodging apps available (Booking.com, Trip Advisor, and Air BnB to name a few), where do you even begin when it comes to booking a place to stay? The thoughts of “is it affordable, near city landmarks and transportation and – oh, wait, what about an included breakfast and late check out?” run rampant through your mind until you usually (in my case at least) get tired of searching and click “reserve” wherever your tired fingers desire. Luckily, Florence is not a large city, so almost any selected place to stay will be near or within a very doable walking distance to any spot in town. Since we visited during the week, which is typically more affordable than the weekend, we were able to snag a roomy and charming spot at the boutique hotel Roommate Luca, which was a literal stone’s throw away from Nab Firenze, a spot that we frequented for aperitivo. Which leads me to …
WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT IN FLORENCE
As I type this I am waiting for the lightning to strike me being in the food haven that Italy is, but I’m not a traveler who visits places specifically for their popular dishes. However, when the vino starts pouring and the fresh bread starts baking, I come a-running. Since aperitivo is as common a phrase as “buongiorno” in these parts, it is a must to nab a good spot as soon as possible. And no pun intended, but nab we did as we were lucky enough to be across the street to Nab Firenze which served delicious drinks, tasty bites and good service at a great price.
Next up, where to eat dinner? Choices galore but with a friend’s recommendation we ventured to Perseus a place known for their Florentine steak. Bonus: house wine is already waiting for you on the table along with a bowl filled with fresh vegetables to snack on. Thank goodness for friends and their recommendations because that is how we also entered panini heaven at corner sandwich shop SandwiChic. Known for their paninis, this shop was just of the many mouth-watering sandwich shops around.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE IN FLORENCE
If you didn’t already know, Florence is filled with must-see areas besides the popular art galleries, Accademia and Uffizi, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (although you must tick those off of your list, as well.) And since Tuscany is synonymous with wine, it’s only fitting to schedule a wine tour when in Florence. But, maybe that’s just what I tell myself to feel better about my overconsumption of wine when in Tuscany. Regardless, the Tuscany Wine Tour we booked on day one took care of that need! If you have the chance to venture out to the sprawling, beautiful countryside and taste a variety of rich, full wines, please do so!
For the next few days, we decided to capitalize on the close proximity and easy transportation in between cities. On the second day, we ventured to Pisa to take the required “propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa” photo before day three’s trip to the charming and often overlooked Lucca, the “City of 100 Churches.” Day four consisted of one of the best story-telling tours complete with information you will never find on your own: The Best tour in Florence: Renaissance and Medici Tales with Manuel. Also, if you are active and don’t like to skip on your fitness during your vacations like I do (I know – this is quite an unpopular opinion) then aim to wake up early to run near the Ponte Vecchio to experience the vibrant beauty in silence when the sun is just rising.
With guests arriving sporadically throughout the year, I sure do hope I can make my fourth trip to Florence and its surrounding areas soon to share its beauty with guests and fall deeper in love with the region; if that is even a possibility.
Article by Mary Catherine Holcomb for MilanoStyle.com