In Florence on a Sunday, I always think it’s worth sacrificing a lie-in and getting up early and taking a stroll around the centro storico before the other tourists arrive. There’s a special atmosphere. Much of it is traffic-free these days, so the only disturbance will be church bells, early risers out for an espresso and the Sunday edition of La Nazione, and the odd jogger pounding the pavement along the riverside lungarni.
It’s the laziest day of the week, so people emerge con calma and take their time over cappuccino and a flaky brioche at a favourite café, later picking up trays of pasticcini (mini pastries) wrapped in shiny paper to bring home for lunch. Dressed in their best, some opt for brunch or lunch out preceded by a Campari soda or prosecco somewhere smart such as Belle Époque Caffé Gilli in Piazza della Repubblica or Rivoire in Piazza della Signoria.
Most of the principal sights in Florence are open on Sundays, as are most of the main shops, bars and restaurants, so the city centre soon fills up with crowds. Here’s how to make the best of it once the pandemic has passed (restrictions are likely to affect most places for some weeks to come, so check opening times before booking).
Where to have Brunch
Brunch has become a bit of a thing in Florence in recent years, although it is usually more of a generous buffet lunch than a British-style extended breakfast. The version per eccellenza is served at the Four Seasons hotel, in its glorious garden in good weather. It’s expensive, but Florentines book weeks ahead to pile their plates with Michelin-starred chef Vito Mollica’s staggering array of hot and cold, sweet and savoury dishes served to the accompaniment of live music (Sundays Oct-June, €120 (£110) including wine, fourseasons.com/florence).
Eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs and bacon, hamburgers and burritos are on the weekend brunch menu served from noon to 4pm at Manifattura Tabacchi, a former tobacco factory turned music and arts venue near the Cascine park. The €35 set price includes extra tasting plates from the chef, a dessert buffet and a Bloody Mary or a Bellini (manifatturatabacchi.com).