How to Spend 5 Hours in Florence

Florence is somewhere we have always wanted to visit. During our stay in Tuscany over October Half Term in 2019, we were able to finally visit this Italian city. 

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - market flower stall

Our closest train station was Arezzo - we parked here and bought our train tickets online via Train Italia (although our tickets were never checked). The trains were pretty easy to get to grips with in Italy.

A return ticket for 2 adults and 3 children from Arezzo to Florence was around 45 euro purchased a few days in advance. Seats are unreserved but we managed to find one no problem. The express train took us around an hour and Florence train station is in the heart of the city. 

Florence is a pretty compact city. It felt safe, was full of other tourists and we weren't hassled on the streets at all. We used Google Maps to navigate around.

Our first stop was the Mercato Centrale which is just a short walk from the train station. This indoor covered market sells everything and anything from Artisan Cheeses to Fine Wine. I could have walked around the stalls all day long and spent an absolute fortune. 

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - Mercato Central

Upstairs in the market is a giant food court - there are communal tables where you can grab a bite to eat from one of the many stalls and some of the food outlets have their own restaurants too.

We really fancied a proper Italian pizza so opted for The Pizzeria by Marco Fierro. The views over the food court were brilliant for people watching.

There was a little bit of a language barrier but we got there with our orders and 5 pizzas & 5 soft drinks worked out at around £35 which was such a bargain.

Honestly, the pizzas here are the best pizzas I have ever had. I still dream about them! So, so good with proper tomato sauce, chargrilled crusts and the best cheese.

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - best Pizza in Florence

The kids were super happy too.

Wondering around the food courts and I regret not trying these giant arancini balls - they look lush! Next time.

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - market flower stall

Our next stop was the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - wow this building just takes your breath away. It is gorgeous and the attention to detail is just incredible.

You can pay to go inside and there are lots of organised tours -  I would have loved to have done this but we were short on time and the kids weren't too keen.

We did have time to stop off at the Antique Carousel of the Picci Family which has been passed down through 4 generations. It is only 1 euro to ride and a real hit with the kids.

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - espresso bar  - ancient carousel

There are lots of little trinket stalls around here - expect to pay a couple of euro for a keyring or fridge magnet.

We then walked to the Piazza della Signoria to see the replica Statue of David in its original position (you can see the real one in a gallery here but we weren't keen on the queues). There are loads of statues here and we found it pretty interesting.

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - espresso bar  - statue of david

There are SO many gelato stalls in Florence - pretty much one on every street. We picked one at random and loved it. A Gelato stop is the perect excuse to rest your feed and indulge in a little treat. Expect to pay around 2-3 euros.

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - gelato bar

We continued our self-guided walking tour along the river where we noticed Ponte Vecchio - a bridge which dates back to 1218.

This bridge has the nickname of the Gold Bridge as it is lined with Gold & Silver shops - its actually a pretty romantic place and I bet a lovely spot to shop for wedding or engagement rings.

I have never seen so much gold!

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - gold bridge

It was starting to rain pretty heavily at this point so we took refuge in a coffee shop at the end of the bridge. It was full of Italians air-kissing each other and we were the only tourists in there. I absolutely loved it though and our espressos were a bargain at 1.5 euros each.

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - espresso bar

There is a McDonalds right outside of the train station and I promised the kids they could try an Italian McDonalds before our train home. What a mistake that was though!

Harry was looking forward to trying McDonalds Pizza - it wasn't on the menu though. They messed up our order, we couldn't explain what we were missing so I just missed out, there was rubbish ALL over the place,  the quality wasn't very good, the toilets were overflowing and pretty disgusting, beggars kept coming up to us in the restaurant asking us for money......

I could go on. We have a thing where we visit McDonald's in every country we visit but I think I will be putting that tradition to an end now. We should have gone back to the market and picked up some treats for a train picnic but you live and learn.

Back at the station it was total chaos - trains were being cancelled left, right and centre and there were delays on all lines. Thankfully, our train was on time. It was a little over-crowded but we all managed a seat which I was grateful for!

How to Spend 5 Hours in Florence - train to arezzo

Florence was not at all how I expected it to be - I expected it to be expensive and full of fancy shops and it wasn't like that at all. We felt really safe and everything was so reasonably priced. It was super easy to walk around and see everything on foot.

There are some exclusive designer shopping districts but also chains like H&M and markets too - it is a real mix.

Here is a screenshot of our route:

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - walking route

I would love to go back in the summer and take in some of the cafe culture here.

Check out my other Italian posts:

Let me know if you fancy a trip x

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How to Spend 5 Hours in Florence


1 comment

  1. I'd love to visit italy more! Being an Spain has made me less scared about foreign public transport, they do it so much better in europe than we do!


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