Tourists flock to Tuscany in the summer for the history, the wine, the food, and the romance. But it’s hard to build a romantic vibe when throngs of tourists are crushed against you and your love. My husband Warren and I are coauthors of the book, Married with Luggage: What We Learned About Love by Traveling the World. Florence was one of the stops on our summer book tour, and we learned a thing or two about carving out some alone time in this popular destination.
1. The early bird gets the romance
Want a cute photo in front of the Duomo or at the Piazza de Michelangelo? Go before breakfast. Stroll along the bridges, watch the oarsmen glide through the water, and generally have the city to yourself. Then when everyone else is coming out to sightsee, you can duck back into your hotel for a leisurely breakfast.
2. Skip the sunset in favor of the sunrise
Are you sensing a theme here? Most people will not get up for a sunrise, opting instead to fight for a spot to see the sunset. Being alone together in a historic city like Florence as the sun rises is a beautiful way to start the day…and if you have a great view from your hotel (like we did at the Antica Torre di via Tornabuoni), you don’t even have to go far. Be decadent and start the day with some Prosecco.
3. Seek out the mom-and-pop restaurants
Busloads of tourists in high-turnover restaurants are not the ideal setting for your romantic rendezvous in Tuscany. Wander off the main tourist areas into the side streets, seeking out restaurants with just a few tables and more personalized service. Your best bet to get a table in these small places is to go for an aperitivo (drink + snack) before dinner and then stay if you like the vibe.
4. Go late
Many tourists pack it in at the end of a day of sightseeing, but you can take advantage of this time for late visits to museums (we walked right up to the ticket booth at the Accademia Galleria to see the David statue one hour before closing). Across the Arno River you can also find clubs with live music starting at 10 p.m. and plenty of locals out late enjoying the summer weather.
5. Go upscale on a budget
You don’t have to stay overnight at swanky hotel like the Belmond Villa San Michele, but you can go out for drinks or lunch and take in a romantic view of Florence or stroll through the garden. Most tourists won’t go to these incredible hotels just outside of Florence in Fiesole, but if you do, you’ll feel like the city belongs to you and your love.
These 5 tips made our own trip memorable despite the flocks of tourists in the summertime, so we know they’ll work for you, too. Florence will always be a popular city for lovers, but you can still make the city feel like your own with a little bit of planning.
About the Author: Betsy Talbot is the coauthor of Married with Luggage: What We Learned About Love by Traveling the World. Learn more about long-term love and partnership at Married with Luggage.