With February 14 comes another opportunity to celebrate and this time the theme is love. Whether you have a significant other or not, Valentine’s Day (or, for the singletons, Galentine’s Day) is a chance to spend time with the ones you love, be it in a romantic relationship or otherwise. And what better place to spend the big day than in Florence! Despite its wealthy medieval history and lavish architecture, Valentine’s doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We’ve put together some of best dates in the city for those who are on a budget—choose one (or all!) of the below to treat someone special.
Go gooey-eyed over breakfast
Start your day off right with hot coffee and pastries that won’t break the bank. You can easily get a cappuccino and a croissant for 3.50 euro, provided you don’t fall for the overpriced tourist traps. Here are some spots in the centre we have heart-eyes for.
Tucked away opposite the Marino Marini Museum is this authentic Italian bar Caffe Essse (piazza di S. Pancrazio 4), with indoor and outdoor seating in a peaceful piazza, situated a stone’s throw from the basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
Caffe Melloni (via de’ Bardi 74R) is right next to the Ponte Vecchio and opposite the Uffizi gallery. Don’t be fooled by the “Bar Tabacchi” sign above; within lies a quaint little coffee bar perfect for cosying up to your significant other, espresso in hand.
Gocce’s Bar Florence (via Panzani 32R) offers ample seating across two floors for those who want a longer chit chat over a coffee or light bite. A few minutes’ walk from the shiny shopping district of piazza della Repubblica, it’s a perfect pit stop for those who wish to shop (or browse!) till they drop this Valentine’s.
Mo Si cafeteria (via Nazionale 106) is a classic venue that serves very reasonable coffees, sandwiches and the best of Italian dolci, ranging from Florentine torta di riso (rice custard tart) to cornetti and cannoli. If you are heading down via Nazionale, get yourself a bombolone: a must.
Explore Florence on a romantic stroll
Getting to grips with Italy’s former capital city shouldn’t cost you a pretty penny, but equally shouldn’t result in arguing over Google Maps. GuruWalk is a service that provides unique (and free, though it’s customary to tip!) tours of thousands of cities across the world, including Florence. With a variety of routes, timings and group sizes, select a tour that best suits you, leaving navigation to the experts whilst you enjoy the sights. Rick Steves’ audio guide series is free to download from App Store and Google Play, and takes you around various Florentine monuments, including a meticulously planned “Renaissance Walk”.
Gaze on sunset skies from a hilltop piazza
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but no one can dispute the breath-taking vistas of piazzale Michelangelo. Take a hike up to the top to be rewarded with the best views not only of Florence, but the undulating hills of surrounding Tuscan landscape. Take a peek inside the architectural beauty of the basilica of San Miniato al Monte before perching on the piazza’s iconic staircase to watch the sun go down.
Raise a toast with the perfect aperitivo
Enjoy a sundown aperitivo and watch Florence come alive as the evening draws in. If the most central spots prove too costly, take advantage of the city’s happy hours and drinks deals to start off your Valentine’s night in the best way. We’d go for pints at Kikuya (via dei Benci 43R) or Dragonfly (piazza Salvemini 4); drinks at Naima (via dell’Anguillara 54R); or cocktails at l’Margaritaio Cantina Messicana (via dell’Anguillara 70). And if you’d rather an ice cream than an iced margarita, a gelato will set you back between 3 and 4 euro at any of Florence’s favourite spots.
Go “Lady and the Tramp” for dinner
As the perfect day draws to an end, finish by sampling Florence’s culinary delights.
Explore trendy Santo Spirito by heading to the quaint Caffé degli Artigiani (Via dello Sprone 16R) for light bites and relaxed vibes, open until 1am. Serving a bit of everything, including 6.50 euro bruschetta and 7.50 euro pappa al pomodoro, this is a sweet spot for a cosy low-key affair in a lovely location.
Pizza lovers can continue to via Maffia 31R, where they’ll find ‘O Munaciello. This restaurant prides itself on authentic Neapolitan grub, serving wood-fired pizza and handmade fried treats in a room adorned with brick vaults and suspended statues. Expect to pay around 10 euro for a good-sized pizza.
For a more classic Tuscan dinner date, La Cucina del Ghianda (via dell’Agnolo 85-87) hits the spot, offering a simple but well executed range of dishes, including meatballs, roast veal, porchetta and offal, each in the 9-15 euro price range.
A hot bowl of tasty broth at Koto Ramen (via Giuseppe Verdi 42R) is the perfect winter warmer this February, with a selection of gyoza and ramen available from 13 euro. (We’re particularly excited by the “build your own” menu). This is a fantastic international food option throughout the year, either to take your date or friends.