If you arrive to Florence by train, one of the first massive churches you will come across is the Santa Maria del Fiore (photo above). Unlike most, you can enter for free and take photos as well.
From the end of November until mid December there is an international Christmas festival that takes place outside the main city center in Florence. This is a unique festival because vendors from all over Europe come to see their stuff. Like all Christmas markets, this one includes tons of food, gifts and drinks. For us American’s we really enjoyed this market because there was a British stand there that sells all types and flavors of Cheddar Cheese (a very hard to find item in Italy). They travel all around Europe selling these amazing and authentic cheeses which range in tastes from Lime Tequila cheddar to Spicy tomato and onion chutney. You can see more flavors on their website http://www.bestofbritish.en. Here are just a few we picked up……..
As we normally do, we found a highly recommended restaurant that specializes in serving the local dishes and wines. If you are a meat person, then I have the place and meal for you! dei Frescobaldi Ristorante & Wine Bar is a Michelin rated restaurant that has an amazing fiorentina for two. It’s located off the beaten path on a side street called via S. Spirito and is definitely worth the trip. The also serve a special olive oil that comes from the same region and you can buy some to take home with you for around 25 euros per bottle.
The city is filled with musical acts, street performers and tons of artists all wanting to draw your portrait. Also, along the water are tons of shops which includes 100’s of jewelry stores with everything you could want. The only advise I will give you is that if you wish to take a tour you must arrive early in the morning. Most of the wine and vineyard tours start at 9am and last a full eight hours, so get into Florence early if you want to partake (we arrived to late in the day to go sadly). Enjoy…..