My memories of Florence are comprised of three things: the incredible Tuscan sun, delicious food and lazy wandering. Florence at Christmas can be quite busy with tourists (remember Vatican City is in Italy, so there are lots of people who visit for religious reasons) which kind of put me off a little, but I would absolutely return before heading off into Tuscany.
What to do?
Give the Uffizi museum a miss if Florence isn’t your only stop in Italy, it's always packed and there isn't a lot to see that you can't find elsewhere in Italy. Instead I would recommend you visit the Galileo Museum. It was incredible to see the machines and devices used for scientific experiments from the 15th century up until today. This is what they used to figure out how the world works; things like the laws of gravity which we just take for granted today. Also there is an astrolab that has to be seen to be believed - it was possibly one of the most beautiful things I will ever see.
Where to eat?
Florence had some of the best food of Italy - although I didn't really enjoy the touristy side of it, I would return in a heartbeat for the food.
This is a place that you must book ahead - Mike and I wandered in during their lunch hour and booked for that night so it isn't too complicated and it is absolutely worth it. There aren't many tables so if you're a couple you may find yourself sitting at the same table as another couple but it's strangely cozy, and really only as weird as you make it. We were seated with a Scandinavian couple and we mostly kept to ourselves except when we were trying to decipher the dessert menu - none of us spoke Italian so it was pretty funny. The waiter came at sat at the table with us to take our order, and was so friendly and helpful.
Oh, and the food is incredible, I had lamb cutlets that I still dream about. I can say, hand on heart, it was my favourite meal of our trip - and it's going up against a lot of incredible food. I think the cozy friendly feel of the restaurant as well as it's determination to focus on quality seasonal food and wine really helps put it at the top of the list. Mike and I wended our way home pretty tipsy after that meal, and it is one of my fondest memories.
Mike and I went here twice, on our first and last night in Florence. I really loved the relaxed atmosphere - it's far more of a wine bar than a restaurant but the food is really good, and it's nice to sit down and enjoy some cheese and wine. It's the sort of place I would go to every Friday night if I lived in Florence.
This was one of those serendipitous moments on our trip, on the same night we were heading to Vine e Vecchi we decided to have some pre drinks. We were on our way to a margherita bar we had heard about when we wandered past this wine bar and on a whim changed our minds.
It turned out to be halfway between a wine bar and cellar door for the winery Verrazzano - a winery that has been around in one form or another since Roman times. We sampled a few of their different wines, I fell heads over heels in love with Chianti that night and we picked up a bottle for us. and a bottle for Mike's parents.
Where to stay?
Mike and I stayed at Hotel Berchielli and it is an incredibly nice hotel on the river but - and this is a big but - were we not travelling in the off peak season I doubt that we would be able to afford it .
What I'm trying to say is that it is a beautiful hotel with fantastic service but it was available to us through luck and chance, and so I couldn't exactly recommend it because I know under different circumstances it would be out of our budget.
Mimi & Alex Ikonn made a follow me around Florence video