One of the most stunning cities in Italy, Florence is guaranteed to take your breath away. For the best things to see and do on your visit to Florence here’s our city guide to Florence.
Top five things to do in Florence
This striking cathedral made from white, green and pink stone, dominates the city. Started in 1294, it took over 150 years to finish and is one of the most impressive buildings in all of Italy. Walk up inside the dome or just stand there catching flies while you try to take in the spectacle that is the inside of the dome.
Originally this bridge was full of butchers shops, but when one of the Florentine rulers had to make his way across it between two of his palaces, he had them all replaced with jewellers. They are still there to this day, along with the usual host of shops selling rubbish to tourists. It was also the only bridge left standing by the Nazis and if they couldn’t destroy it, it must be worth seeing.
On the hills of the south side of the river, this square offers probably the best view of the city. The valley, in which it sits, means Florence is a polluted city, but (on the plus side) means amazing sunsets. Get up here early and watch the whole thing – you will not forget it in a hurry.
This world famous museum holds the world’s finest renaissance art collection. While it’s definitely worth going if you’re into art in any way shape or form, it will be deathly boring if not; this is no Tate modern. But this is Florence where it all started and the world would be a very different place without the Renaissance. It’s a very dry gallery with many head and shoulder portraits, and pictures of Madonna and child.
Piazza della Signoria
The history which has been played out in the city's main square is astounding. People burned at the stake, political rallies and more. Visit the surrounding palaces, the gallery of statues and a copy of Michelangelo’s David; the original is in Accademia.
Where to stay in Florence
Florence, if you intend to see the city itself, is very small and most of the attractions are easily in walking distance. If you can afford it, stay somewhere near the Piazza della Signoria – this puts you right in the middle of the action and a short walk from anywhere you need to go. Due to Florence’s size you can really stay anywhere in the city centre – avoid staying right near the train station if you can as it sometimes attracts undesirables. It is advisable to phone in advance though as hotels can be booked up.
Where to eat and drink in Florence
Again, the centre of Florence is so small that you should wander to find somewhere to suit your budget – there is no real centre of activity. You should be aware, though, that meat is priced by the 100g and any that you buy may come in amounts larger than that; be ready. Some bars and clubs are closed on Monday. Also for going out in the evening most of the city’s clubs are located out of town and new ones pop up each summer to cater for tourists and students. To find out where to go, pick up the Firenze Spettacolo magazine. For cheap eats during the day, visit one of the many delis which sell innumerable combinations of cheese, tomato, ham and bread. Plus, keep your eye open for vending machines which sell pasta!
How to get around Florence
Much of the city centre is pedestrianised, and even the roads that only allow residents' cars, so you’ll have to park a little way out if you are driving. The bus network can be handy if you want to get to outlaying suburbs or you’re staying in one, but thanks to the one-way setup of much of central Florence’s roads it can be tricky to master. A 60-minute ticket gives you as many rides as you can fit into an hour and the 3-hour, 24-hour, 3-day, 5-day and 7-day tickets work on the same deal. You can buy them from tobacconists, bars, newsstands and ATAF (the service provider) stands and offices. You must validate them when you get on the bus – there is a machine which punches them.
The best time to visit Florence
At the end of April the Parterre, near Piazza Liberta, holds an impressive flower show, and over May and June the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino presents an array of ballets, operas and recitals. The Calcio in-costume football game held on San Giovanni – the city’s patron saints day – is fun to watch and if dance is more your thing July sees the Florence Dance Festival. In July and August the Puccini Opera Festival on the shores of nearby Lake Massaciuccoli makes for the ultimate Italian experience.
Article by RealBuzz