Our place in Umbria is an equal distance between Florence and Rome, and we love to get out of the country every once in a while to visit a larger city. We took a day trip to Florence this week to do some shopping and just have a day away. We always park at Piazzale Michelangelo, which has the best views of Florence, then take the treck down into the city. Since it was mid-September, I was hoping that Florence would be a little less crowded than usual, but it was still pretty busy with tour groups from all over the world crowding the narrow streets. Although from time to time we stay overnight in Florence to make the trip more relaxing, a day trip to this beautiful city is still a lot of fun.
We have a usual schedule when we visit Florence after all these years, and that includes first parking at Piazzele Michelangelo to see the amazing views of the city, walking down to a local bar for a coffee and brioche, then meandering towards the Duomo. If there are any shops along the way to the Duomo that interest us, we will stop, but usually, it is a straight, short walk. After admiring the spectacular architecture of the Duomo, we typically head to Mercato Centrale. This market is any food lovers dream, and I could spend hours there exploring. The bottom level of the market is mainly specialty food items, fresh produce, meats, and seafood for sale, while the upper level has been turned into an upscale food court. If you visit the market, you really have to explore both floors to get the whole experience.
By the time we finish the market, it is usually time to find our spot for lunch. We have been lucky to have food travel friends who know the best places to dine in Florence, and we usually get recommendations from them. This trip I wanted to return to Mario’s, a tiny trattoria behind Mercato Centrale that specializes in Bistecca Fiorentina. Mario’s has been in business since the 1950s, and honestly, I do not think anything has changed since then. They pack folks into the place at tiny tables and somehow create memorable meals in the smallest kitchen you could imagine. It is NOT a relaxing meal, because they are only open for lunch and turn over tables quickly getting dishes out of the kitchen in record time, but if you visit Florence, a visit to Mario’s for lunch is an experience.
After lunch, we visit a couple of stores to browse and pick up anything on my list, grab a coffee and gelato and then make the long climb back to our car to head back to Umbria. Our day trips to Florence are always enjoyable, and the hustle and bustle of the busy city make us appreciate our quiet place in the Umbrian countryside even more!
Parking at Piazzale Michelangelo allows you to view the city from different views as you make the treck down.
Walking in towards Ponte Vecchio, the street lined with jewelry stores.
Piazza della Signoria where the Uffizi Gallery is located.
Some of the produce arranged like art at the Mercato Centrale.
Salumi, cheese, fresh meat, poultry, seafood and more at Mercato Centrale.
Some of the amazing options upstairs at Mercato Centrale.
You really have to walk around the Duomo to get a feeling about just how massive it really is!
Lunch at Trattoria Mario.
Time to make the long climb back to Piazzale Michelangelo and head back to Umbria!
Deborah Mele 2019