What is the best thing to bring home from Florence?

Kim Atkinson

As the home of some of the world's greatest works of art — Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus — Florence is one of the best places to pick up artsy souvenirs. From pretty postcards and kitschy aprons sporting the body of David on the front to original artwork sold in various piazzas, the city on the Arno is brimming with art-inspired gifts. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors love Florence’s wearable art. Visit the School of Leather (Scuola del Cuoio) to see the leather-makers creating masterpieces out of beautiful hide. Whether it’s a belt, wallet or purse, a souvenir from the School of Leather is a must.

  • On June 25
    Caroline Patek answered the question: Caroline Patek

    Where is the best outlet shopping in Florence?

    Just 30 minutes outside of Florence is outlet shopping that's almost too good to be true: The Mall. This outdoor outlet mecca is home to big-name brands such as Prada, Bottega Veneta, Tod's, Balenciaga and more. I ventured here on a whim during my semester abroad in Florence, and I could barely believe my eyes when I arrived. The deals for designer goods are truly worth the trip, and the onsite Italian restaurant (DOT.COM) serves as the perfect end to your shopping excursion with easy lunch options such as salads and paninis.

    The two best options for getting to The Mall are either renting a car and driving yourself, or buying a ticket for the daily shuttle bus. The bus departs from the BUSITAILA/SITA depot at Via Santa Caterina da Siena 17 (near the Santa Maria Novella train station) and tickets are only 10 euros round trip.
  • On February 6, 2013
    Natalie Wearstler answered the question: Natalie Wearstler

    What’s the best way to get to Florence?

    The best way to get to Florence is to skip the long airport lines and hop on board your own private plane with NetJets. By traveling with this private jet company, you’ll enjoy the benefits of personal jet travel through programs that allow you to pay as you go, lease a plane or become a fractional owner of an aircraft. Get into the Florentine mindset early by uncorking a bottle of Italian vino selected in collaboration with Wine Spectator, or prepare for a meeting by taking advantage of Wi-Fi on the flight. However you choose to enjoy your trip, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that each NetJets flight is manned by two captain-qualified pilots who put safety first and are industry leaders with an average of 7,500 hours of flight experience each.
  • On September 25, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Where is the best shopping in Florence?

    Florence is brimming with spectacular shopping opportunities — and it’s not just the top-notch designers. Along the Ponte Vecchio, you’ll encounter shop after shop filled with gold necklaces, bracelets, rings and more. This is where to buy jewelry, and there’s something for every price range.
     
    The western Italian city is also known for its quality leather goods. Make your way to Piazza Santa Croce’s Scuola del Cuoio (School of Leather) and watch the craftsmen hard at work learning the trade. Within the school, buy everything from handmade belts to wallets. You’ll find more leather and jewelry at the nearby open-air San Lorenzo market.
     
    When it comes to fashion, Florence’s Via Tornabuoni is unrivaled in these parts. Boutiques from legendary Italian designers like Gucci, Prada, Emilio Pucci and Roberto Cavalli line the famous street. It’s a shopper’s paradise, so don’t forget your credit card. To get labels for less, head to The Mall, an outlet center that’s a half-hour drive from the city. Packed with shops like Tod’s, Bottega Veneta and Gucci, this is the spot to snag the deals.
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  • On September 25, 2012
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Where is the best shopping in Florence?

    Florence is brimming with spectacular shopping opportunities — and it’s not just the top-notch designers. Along the Ponte Vecchio, you’ll encounter shop after shop filled with gold necklaces, bracelets, rings and more. This is where to buy jewelry, and there’s something for every price range.
     
    The western Italian city is also known for its quality leather goods. Make your way to Piazza Santa Croce’s Scuola del Cuoio (School of Leather) and watch the craftsmen hard at work learning the trade. Within the school, buy everything from handmade belts to wallets. You’ll find more leather and jewelry at the nearby open-air San Lorenzo market.
     
    When it comes to fashion, Florence’s Via Tornabuoni is unrivaled in these parts. Boutiques from legendary Italian designers like Gucci, Prada, Emilio Pucci and Roberto Cavalli line the famous street. It’s a shopper’s paradise, so don’t forget your credit card. To get labels for less, head to The Mall, an outlet center that’s a half-hour drive from the city. Packed with shops like Tod’s, Bottega Veneta and Gucci, this is the spot to snag the deals.
  • On September 25, 2012
    answered the question:

    Where is the best shopping in Florence?

    Florence is brimming with spectacular shopping opportunities — and it’s not just the top-notch designers. Along the Ponte Vecchio, you’ll encounter shop after shop filled with gold necklaces, bracelets, rings and more. This is where to buy jewelry, and there’s something for every price range.
     
    The western Italian city is also known for its quality leather goods. Make your way to Piazza Santa Croce’s Scuola del Cuoio (School of Leather) and watch the craftsmen hard at work learning the trade. Within the school, buy everything from handmade belts to wallets. You’ll find more leather and jewelry at the nearby open-air San Lorenzo market.
     
    When it comes to fashion, Florence’s Via Tornabuoni is unrivaled in these parts. Boutiques from legendary Italian designers like Gucci, Prada, Emilio Pucci and Roberto Cavalli line the famous street. It’s a shopper’s paradise, so don’t forget your credit card. To get labels for less, head to The Mall, an outlet center that’s a half-hour drive from the city. Packed with shops like Tod’s, Bottega Veneta and Gucci, this is the spot to snag the deals.
  • On July 3, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Florence food experiences?

    Florence is justifiably famous for its food, so while you probably won’t have enough time — or room in your stomach — to taste everything, here are five food experiences our Forbes Travel Guide editors feel you just can’t miss:

    1. Cured meats. Cured meats are extremely popular in Florence and widely available at cafés and restaurants around the city. If you’re visiting between September and May, seek out a plate of the seasonal bardiccio, a mix of beef and pork that’s flavored with fennel.
     
    2. Chianti. The signature wine of Tuscany happens to be produced in the hills of the Chianti region, just 20 miles south of Florence. Made from the local Sangiovese grape, chianti is a smooth red wine that goes down easily; its finer (and pricier) version, Chianti Riserva, is aged for 38 months instead of four to seven.
     
    3. Pappa al Pomodoro. This hearty tomato stew has its origins in cucina povera (peasants’ cuisine), in part because of its use of chopped-up, day-old bread.
     
    4. Ravioli Nudi. Despite its name, which translates to “naked ravioli,” these ravioli aren’t missing their sauce, but the actual pasta. The filling itself — typically spinach and ricotta — is what’s simmered into dumplings and finished with a tomato sauce.
     
    5. Bistecca alla Fiorentina. A thick T-bone steak from local cattle, bistecca alla fiorentina is grilled over fire, seasoned with salt, black pepper, and olive oil and served very rare. It’s one of the juiciest, most delicious cuts of meat you’ll ever taste.
  • On July 3, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best nightlife in Florence?

    One of the most popular nightlife areas in Florence is the Santa Croce neighborhood, where Via de’ Benci, in particular, is packed with bars and clubs filled with young people and expats. Piazza Santo Spirito, located across the river, is also quite lively, especially during the summer.

    While there are some late-night dance clubs scattered across the city, you’ll notice that locals aren’t necessarily big on clubbing long into the night. Instead, our Forbes Travel Guide editors note that the typical local’s night out starts slowly with aperitivo, the northern Italian tradition of having a few nibbles and a glass of wine before dinner. After dinner, Florentines who want to stay out tend to gravitate towards cocktail lounges; only a few — usually the younger set — will move on to clubs.
  • On July 3, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Florence in one day?

    Although Florence is best explored and savored over several days, since its historic center is relatively small and easily walkable it is possible to see its most famous sights in one day.

    If you’re pressed for time and need to squeeze as much sightseeing as you can into 24 hours or less, our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend kicking off your whirlwind tour with a stroll through the city’s famous San Lorenzo leather market, which is near the train station, and then heading on to the Accademia Gallery. As the home of Michelangelo’s famed David statue — the real one; there is a replica in Piazza della Signoria — the Accademia Gallery is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in town. Avoid the long lines to get in by buying your tickets online ahead of time.

    After getting your fill of art, walk the Piazza del Duomo to see Florence’s famous Duomo. If the line isn’t too long, duck inside to take a look, though it’s worth noting that the exterior is actually more elaborate and impressive than the austere interior. Also be sure to check out the Florence Baptistery, the city’s oldest building that’s just across from the Duomo. It features the “Gates of Paradise” doors, which have gorgeous detailed panels that were designed by Renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti. 
    Next, head southeast to the Basilica di Santa Croce, the resting place of Florence’s most famous citizen, Michelangelo, and home to frescoes by Giotto and sculptures by Donatello. Get a long enough look for it all to sink in, then take a five-minute walk from there to Piazza della Signoria: This is the iconic piazza that’s overshadowed by Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s towering medieval town hall.

    Taking the famed Ponte Vecchio, cross into the Oltrarno neighborhood for lunch and to explore the area’s back streets and artisanal shops. Be sure to stop at Santa Maria del Carmine to visit the Brancacci Chapel, one of the most important chapels of the early Renaissance period. After your relaxing stroll, head back across the river to the Uffizi Gallery, one of the world’s oldest and most famous museums — again, buy your tickets online ahead of time to avoid the lines.

    Finally, finish your marathon day of sightseeing with a glass of wine and Tuscan meats and cheeses at a local enoteca.
  • On July 3, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to eat in Florence?

    There are plenty of restaurants in Florence serving authentic Italian cuisine in beautiful settings, but this relatively small city does still have its fair share of touristy, overpriced places, too. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors will help guide you towards the good spots and away from the bad with these picks for the five places to eat in Florence:

    1. La Casalinga. Located just over the Ponte Vecchio in Oltrarno, this no-nonsense, bustling trattoria is a great place to dine on traditional Florentine food in a homey setting.
     
    2. Trattoria Mario. This popular hole-in-the-wall doesn’t take reservations and can get quite busy, but it’s well worth the wait. The menu is filled with rustic Tuscan dishes like pasta with artichokes, white beans and roasted veal.
     
    3. Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò. This restaurant and wine bar near Piazzale Michelangelo serves both traditional and modern Italian specialties, so you’ll see common dishes like pappa al pomodoro next to more ambitious ones, like goose carpaccio.
     
    4. Il Santo Bevitore. Upscale but friendly, Il Santo Bevitore is particularly popular with locals, who come for the chef’s creative takes on Florentine cuisine. Since its name translates to “The Holy Drink,” be sure to try some of the local wines served here.
     
    5. Le Volpi e l’Uva. One of the top wine bars in Florence, Le Volpi e l’Uva serves top-notch wines, cheeses and charcuterie from small, lesser-known vineyards and food producers in Italy and France. This is the perfect spot for pre-dinner snacks, or for those times when you prefer to skip the pasta and fill up on wine, cheese and meats instead.
  • On July 3, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Florence?

    Although Florence is an art and history buff’s paradise, there are plenty of fun things to do with kids, too, including these five activities our Forbes Travel Guide editors think they’ll absolutely love:

    1. Museo Galileo. Florence’s science museum makes for a kid-friendly break from the city’s plethora of frescoes and sculptures (not to mention the scorching heat). Best for kids ages six and up, Museo Galileo features an interactive area where little ones can get their hands on Galilean instruments. You also can do a child-friendly 1.5-hour visit with a museum tour or rent an interactive video guide complete with 3D animations — just be sure to choose the “kids” option.
     
    2. Boboli Gardens. The formal gardens of Palazzo Pitti feature 11 acres of green space and is the perfect place for adults to relax in the shade while the kids run around and burn off some energy. First laid out in the 16th century, Boboli Gardens has outdoor sculptures and a strange, spooky Mannerist grotto, which  was carved to look like it has stalactites and is filled with replicas of famous statues.
     
    3. Take a climb. Kids and adults alike will be worn out after climbing either the 463 steps of the Duomo or the 414 steps of Giotto’s Bell Tower, which is just next to the Duomo. The trek is worth it, though, for the great views of the city you’ll be treated to at the top.
     
    4. Pay homage to Pinocchio. Piazzale Michelangelo is about a 20-minute walk from the center of town — you’ll be mostly going up stairs, so be prepared for a climb — and has some of the best views of greater Florence. Beyond the views you’ll also see the 11th-century church of San Miniato al Monte and its cemetery, where Pinocchio’s creator was laid to rest.
     
    5. See artisans at work in Oltrarno. Just across the river is Florence’s Oltrarno quarter, where you and your kids can duck inside a number of shops and watch local artisans at work as they bind books, create mosaics and make shoes and jewelry.
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