Rather than follow the advice of the online guides who are against visiting Florence during winter – because it could rain or get cold … – I invite you to yield to the temptation. Why? Because you will find fewer tourists per square meter and more scope for your own explorations.
The plane takes you to Pisa airport and a bus leads you directly to the central station of Florence. Cheap and just as fast as the train (1h10 approx.), very convenient if you carry some luggages.
If you need an accommodation for two people, I recommend the small studio of Barbara and Maurizio, two charming hosts who welcome you with a bottle of wine and their best advice to discover this dream city. You will be staying on the other side of the Arno river, separating the historic centre and the Oltrarno district, no less grandiose with the Palazzo Pitti its Boboli Gardens: 45000m2 of green space enhanced with sculptures, fountains, garden temples and grottos.
Culture awaits you at every corner of the capital of Tuscany, so you might not visit its museums. This city is an open-air gallery: monumental churches like Santa Maria dei Fiori, a beautiful lady, almost a thousand years old, with the largest dome in the world; a profusion of palaces, such as the Palazzo Strozzi, housing a retrospective on Ai Weiwei’s work until January the 22nd 2017; museums, libraries, gardens, villas … and the Ponte Vecchio with its antique mall. You will find it hard to know what to look at and where to begin.
While searching for some oysters to eat (it’s quite an obsession…), I found the Fishing Lab. Enjoy a museum-like restaurant with frescoes in the ceiling and an archaeological site in the basement. You will eat fresh fish in abundance and forget about the oysters…You will feel like as if you are eating at a street food festival while sitting inside. Very very good indeed.
Historic buildings in Florence are used in many ways: restaurants, fashion shops, galleries or museums, but also drugstores: the oldest pharmacy in Florence opened in 1612, and is called the Officina profumo-farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella: halfway between the world of Harry Potter and an art gallery, it welcomes you to taste a hot chocolate, or was it some perfume or some elixir you wanted to get?
My last Florentine tip, before diving into the rich program of the Antigel Festival, is the Melrose Vintage Store. A second hand shop with a collection of leather bags, hats, coats, military and punk clothing, 60s, 70s, 80s, glitter style…. a fantastic Aladdin’s cave. If you can’t stand the smell of naphthalene like me, visit only the shop via dei Ginori and you’ll be fine.
And if you decide to wait in line to visit the dome of Santa Maria (3 hours) just consider tasting the delicious ice creams of Don Nino, the chocolate flavour is a killer!
Ciao Firenze, ci rivedremo presto !