A Guide to Florence with Jeff Bratton of Cascine
A short guide of where to eat, stay, sip coffee, go shopping and chill in some piazzas and museums in Florence.
Florence is a medieval city, most famous for being the cultural hub of the Renaissance. Unlike Paris and Rome whose beauty falls on top of you, much of Florence’s art and architecture is tucked within its 14th century palazzos. The city is positively stunning though and there’s tons to discover.
Florence is busy with tourists in the warm weather, so Fall and early Spring are best bets for a chiller experience. Christmastime is perhaps most special, with the city sleepy and dressed in white lights.
My mother’s lived in Florence for 10 years and the city’s become a second home for us. Below are some top picks for a short stay.
A tiny contemporary art library that doubles as a cafe. Go for lunch. Very casual and cool.
Via dei Vagellai, 18, 50122 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 094 4877
Traditional Italian fare. Moderately dressy, good for a night out.
Via de’ Vellutini, 1r, 50125 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 218562
Every day they serve a two course (with wine) 10€ lunch menu. The food is fabulous. It’s the best deal in the city.
Via Palazzuolo, 31r, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 218846
Renovated indoor market with a deluxe food court vibe, only difference is that the food is fabulous and made to order. Vegan and traditional Italian options are available.
Via Rosina, 50123 Firenze, Italy
Your best bet for a morning cappuccino or afternoon espresso. There are two. Go to the Giacosa in the Piazza degli Strozzi. It’s bigger and easier to spread out.
Piazza degli Strozzi 1, 50123 Florence, Italy | +39 055 2302913
One of the city’s most famous espresso bars and chocolatiers. It has a large outdoor patio that’s comfortable for bigger parties. Gilli can be heavy with tourists, but it’s frequented by Italians too.
Piazza della Repubblica, 39R, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 269 1118
Cool, contemporary, expensive. Good location.
Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 7, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 264 5181
Modest, but nice. Close to everything.
Via degli Strozzi, 2, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 211170
More of a B&B, but centrally located and super convenient.
Via Dè Brunelleschi, 4, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 288478
Best store in the city is Luisa, a two story department store containing top lines from Europe, Asia and America.
Via Roma, 19/21r, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 906 4116
Guya is a small, lovingly curated boutique stocking avant designers like Damir Doma, Henrik Vibskov, Maison Margiela, etc. Ask for clerk, Michael Bagnini.
Via Calimala, 29, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 219163
PIAZZAS (open air parks)
Classic Florentine beauty, surrounded by stores and restaurants. Santa Croce is home to a basilica of the same name, a gorgeous gothic church and burial place.
One of the most stunning open spaces in the city - vast, stark, breathtaking.
On the other side of the Arno, Santo Spirito is less touristy and has a steady drumbeat of students, local artists and people generally chilling and drinking on the steps of the piazza’s namesake church, which famously allowed a young Michelangelo to dissect corpses in the convent’s hospital.
The Basilica of Santa Croce is another impressive stop. It’s a church that houses the above-ground tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini.
The Uffizi is Florence’s most important museum, filled with works by Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Raphael, da Vinci, etc.
Jeff Bratton named his pop label Cascine (after the park in Florence!) and puts out chill records by Yumi Zouma, Korallreven, Lemonade, Chad Valley and more.