Florence is one of the most romantic, artistic and historically rich cities in Italy and all of Europe. Immerse yourself in the city where the renaissance was born. Here are our top experiences to be had.
The streets of Florence has a timeless beauty to it and you’ll find yourself admiring the beautiful streetscapes, picturesque views and incredible architecture all around you. Once you’ve shared your appreciation of the main remarkable attractions with other tourists, you can easily slip off onto a side street to escape the crowds and explore other beautiful finds. Florence somewhat feels like a work of art in itself and you’ll sense this as you aimlessly wander around this sophisticated city.
Go on a food excursion and try all sorts of Florentine and Tuscan cuisine. Tuscan food is famous for its local produce and meats, traditionally cooked based on the Italian concept of “cucina povera” or “poor cooking”. You’ll find the dishes here are hearty and high quality, made with simple ingredients that bring out the natural flavours. Some Tuscan foods you must try include affettati misti (antipasto of cured sliced meats and cheese), woodfired pizza, Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak), Paparedelle al Cinghiale (long flat pasta with wild boar) and Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo (pasta with truffle mushrooms and procini mushrooms).
Go for a stroll and see one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Ponte Vecchio. The name translates as ‘old bridge’ as it is literally the oldest standing bridge in Florence. Clinging to the bridge are jewellery shops, art stores and antique boutiques. This enchanting bridge truly makes you feel curious about the history of it, so perhaps organise a walking tour and learn about it’s impressive history. The view of the bridge along the river bank is most spectacular during sunset, as the sky lights up and the whole surrounding looks like a painting.
The Duomo (the iconic dome attached to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral) is located in the Piazza del Duomo, surrounded by traditional Tuscan buildings, however it is unmissable. The architecture, details and colours of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo are as grand in real life. The exterior of the church is an impressive piece of architecture, and you’ll want to walk around and step back to take it all in from all angles. Entrance to the cathedral is free however, you'll need to plan and book tickets ahead if you want to climb 463 steps to the top of the dome.
Go on an art journey at one of the top art museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery. The collection is extensive so it is best to plan at least half a day to view and admire the thousands of unique paintings. The gallery showcases some of the most important and famous works by Italian Renaissance artists Botticelli, Caravaggio, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello. Organise tickets and plan your visit/viewings ahead for a smooth and unforgettable visit.
Head to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a terrace situated on a hill south of the Arno River where the third (bronze) version of Michelangelo’s David is displayed. The Piazzale Michelangelo offers magnificent panoramic views of the city and is best experienced at sunset. Sunset viewing is popular here so ensure to get to the terrace early and beat the crowds. Grab a beverage, pick your viewing spot and take it all in. You won’t be disappointed!
On the ground floor of Mercato Centrale, you’ll find a market of fresh produce and meats. Above that is a huge food court, which is open until midnight and was a great dinner experience we had in Florence. The atmosphere at Mercato Centrale is vibrant and the aroma coming from traditional and modern food stands smells delicious. We enjoyed dinner at the food court (there are plenty of tables and seats) however if you want to soak in the afternoon sun and local ambience, you can take away your food and enjoy it outside in the Piazza di San Lorenzo (across from the market) or Piazza di Santa Maria Novella (a short walk away).
Gelato is a classic Italian sweet treat and Florence is one of the best places to try the creamiest and rich-flavoured gelatos. Some gelaterias specialise in unique flavours, some are known for flavoured cones and others offer classic traditionally made gelato. Enjoying a gelato whilst watching the sunset behind the Ponte Vecchio became a late afternoon tradition for us. We recommend Gelateria Perche, however we’re sure most gelaterias in Italy would be pretty good anyway!
If you have time and prefer to spend it away from the crowds, wander around and explore the Boboli Gardens located behind the Pitti Palace. The garden is a huge open air museum with beautiful landscaping, significant fountains and historical sculptures on display. Follow the path and find yourself at peace while being surrounded by lush greenery. As you climb to the top and reach the terrace, you’ll be able to take in the stunning panoramic views of this incredible city and the countryside in the background. Tickets can be purchased at the site.