Discovering Florence in my early 20’s, wind in hair and baguette and cheese literally hanging out of my backpack. I wandered far and wide across Italy wondering how I could make the most of each alluring region on a limited (non existent) budget.

Making my way from the Amalfi Coast to Rome, I had a longing for an elusive town I had dreamt of, called Florence. it wasn’t just the name that intrigued me it was all that I’d read about in history class.

Florence is much more than a pretty face, its an alluring city that twists and turns through narrow streets adorned with renaissance buildings, classic hotels, pop up eateries, urban street art and open air farmers markets.

I vow to return to the city of love one day or as Mark Twain noted ‘the city of dreams’. Fast forward a few decades and I finally find Florence again and it feels familiar, like I’ve returned to a long lost home.

This time I have my adult family in tow ( 18 and 20 year old boys) and a little more coin to explore the culinary flavours of the city. At first glance Florence appears to be the same, with the iconic Michelangelo Park, the cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore and the colourful streets of Santo Spirito.

We wander further, off the beaten track with a local couple who take us to their favourite jaunts. Authentic backs streets dotted with pasta bars and wine merchants are as friendly as they are affordable. Bar hopping our way across the famed Ponte Vecchio bridge to the back streets of Santo Spirito-the ‘locals’ hood.

A locals tip continue along the river on the way to Piazzale Michelangelo, take a side street just before the main walk up the hill and you’ll find the real food of Florence (minus the tourist prices).

Uncovering a new flavour this time around, contemporary spaces like the supersized Mercato Centrale are bursting with the freshest produce. The ground level is a farmers market and a colourful array of street food stalls adorn the upper level. It’s the place to go if you want a casual night out where the community connects through woodfire pizza, homemade pasta, tangy gelato pop-ups and Tuscan wine bars.

An Italian institutio ‘Eataly’ is an array of supersized deli’s that are dotted around Italy from Milan to Rome- taking over disused buildings. There’s yard long pizzas wafting from the front window, isles and isles of small goods, local cheese, meat and seafood packing rooms . There’s either a bookstore, wine cellar or modern Italian eatery that occupies the upper floor.

Stocking up on all of the above (plus a couple of bottles of local sangiovese) we head to the hills for sunset-another ‘hot local’ tip is the town of Fiesole overlooking Florence and the rolling acres of Tuscany.

With views that stretch across the Tuscan mountains Fiesole is said to be the first city of Florence. As night is falling we head for a stately castle on the hill for an sunset aperol- the Bel Monde Hotel is a 7 star wonderland.

There’s something about the capital of Tuscany, its a charming city that also feels like a big country town. There’s a plethora of hidden pockets to discover with each visit and a new wave of young bohemian florentines, that are adding their own flair to this captivating city.

Firenze you truly are one of the most beautiful cities in the world, we vow to return again when the world opens up.

If you’re looking for the best travel blog and podcast on Italy, Australia-make sure to check out As a travel writer and podcast host, I’m dedicated to sharing the best travel experiences, tips, and insights. Join me on my adventures as I explore the wonders of this captivating region and beyond.

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