Coming second to no other Italian city, Florence is the true capital of the Renaissance. A city of pure art and beauty, that lots of poets and artists described in their past work.
No wonder, I’d say! With a city surrounded by hills only seen in paintings, its peculiar terracotta rooftops and wonderful suggestive architecture, it certainly keeps up with the other Italian gems such as the capital Rome, and the dreamy lagoon known as Venezia (read the guide here).
I happened to spend a few days in Florence last summer, when my partner and I were enjoying the second leg of our summer Euro-trip, and hey, we just couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the biggest city in Tuscany.
GUIDE 101 FLORENCE:
Flight – How to get there:
British Airways offers direct flights to Florence from London City Airport or from Gatwick (the latter is operated by Vueling airlines) and is only 20 minutes away from the city centre, so very accessible. You can also reach the city centre by train from other major cities in Italy, Trenitalia Le Frecce is the perfect solution for comfort and time if you happen to be already visiting the country. If you are looking to go with a budget airline, Easyjet also offers daily flights departing from Gatwick airport.
Sightseeing / What to do in Florence:
Florence is the capital of art, where the renaissance originated from, and it would be a shame not to be visiting the beautiful museums that are scattered around the city. The style of the churches, the houses are something different from what you might see in Rome, and that’s why it’s an all time favourite city for locals and tourists.
Duomo: This is impossible to miss, both for its incredible style and majestic proportions, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as Duomo) is a must when you are in Florence. Take your time to discover the inside of the Duomo, check the renaissance style and take in as much as you can. That’s the result of work that took more than 6 centuries to complete! A good tip to remember, visit the below chambers and if you have time, take a trip to the top and admire the view of the city from above.
Ponte Vecchio: Right, imagine a massive bridge that links the city. A bridge that hosts shops, and mini-like flats. Yes, that’s the beauty and peculiar story of Ponte Vecchio (literally translated to Old Bridge)
Giardini Bardini: These are private gardens, where you will need to pay a fee to get in. It’s definitely worth going tho, as you can relax on the bar at the top of the hill, while savouring the gorgeous view of Florence, and a cold drink in your hand. Also, these Gardens have a private house with a collection of paintings. It’s going to be all about walks, relax and art.
On Top of the World: Palazzo Vecchio (known before as Palazzo della Signoria) is the answer, it has a vast museum inside, but the best thing you can do while visiting the Palazzo, is getting on top of the tower. It is a bit of a long way to get up there, and a lot of stairs, but I promise you, you will enjoy the best view in town once you reach the top. Take a bottle of water with you, just in case.
A special date with David: When in Firenze, one must not miss the chance to have a date with David, and I mean, Michelangelo’s David. Not any other David. You might not know it, but there’s one replica just outside Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, near the big fountain. If you want to see the real David, you will need to go to the Accademia gallery (worth going as it’s one of the most visited museums in the city)
Accommodation / Where to stay:
Apparently Florence seems to be one of the best Italian cities for luxury hotels; offering a selection of modern looking accommodations, and old-style renaissance hotels.
Four Season Hotel Firenze: within walking distance to the city centre, the Four Season is a way to submerge yourself in true luxury while staying in town. The lobby is stunning and still retains its beautiful Renaissance style. You can feel the opulence in this hotel, but it’s a good way to truly feel like a royal.
Portrait Firenze: One of the finest hotels owned by the Fashion family “Ferragamo”, is located right next to Ponte Vecchio and having only 37 rooms, it’s perfect accommodation if you feel like you want enjoy a less busy environment, and something very exclusive. The style of this hotel is 60’s modern and clean.
How to get around:
Similarly to Venice, the best way to get around is by foot. Just keep on walking and discover the heart of the city that way!
Food – What/Where to eat:
Food in Florence is incredible, their specialities are Bistecca alla Fiorentina “T-bone steak” stricly cooked rare, Braised beef and Trippa. There’s an ever ending amount of restaurants to pick from, while in Florence… the one I enjoyed the most was Trattoria 4 Leoni, which offers typical Florentine cuisine and a quite rustic experience.