Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region. This city is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. The town has narrow streets, medieval buildings and as well much to be explored.
Florence is possible to visit in two days. But, you can visit for more days as well. However, the feeling is that someday you will want to return there.
Florence is an open-air museum. Rich in architecture, culture, arts, and history. One of the main tips is to walk around the city and explore its streets and its monuments. Therefore, try to stay in the historic center or nearby.
Where to stay in Florence
The best place to stay in Florence is in its historic center. You can search for a hotel near Stazione Santa Maria Novella. This station is 5 minutes from the Duomo of Florence and the main sights of the city.
When you stay in the historic center, you make the trip easier. As such, you can take most of the walking tours and enjoy Florence at night too.
Where to eat in Florence
When you travel anywhere, if you want to have an authentic gastronomic experience, you need to eat where locals eat or learn how to cook the regional gastronomy. Therefore, when we talk about Italy, Florence is no different. There, you will find pasta and pizzas. As well as typical sandwiches and famous dishes from the Tuscany region like the “Bistecca a Fiorentina”.
This restaurant is one of the most traditional places in Tuscany cuisine. Also picturesque, it is located in the Florence historical heart. The place is very popular in the city. It is common to see a crowd lined up in front to indulge in the best of regional gastronomy.
All’Antico Vinaio is a typical “pane e salame” restaurant in Florence. In this place, you can find delicious rustics bread sandwiches. These meals are charged with fresh and quality ingredients. However, you will find a variety of super sandwiches filled with salami, mortadella or raw ham and the most varied region specialties. Yet, they can be enjoyed with a glass of wine. Worth it the wait in line.
Pizzeria a taglio
Pizzeria a taglio is an excellent place to eat tasty pizzas. They sell pizza by weight. This pizzeria is located right in the heart of Florence. It is in front of the Cathedral. You can find it in the farthest corner of Piazza del Duomo.
This place can be a stop for lunch, brunch or even dinner. It is a highly recommended place.
Bar Particceria Cucciolo
The Pasticceria Cucciolo Bar is a great option for snacks or even lunch. This is a simple and cheap place. Their meals are very tasty. This establishment offers pizzas, pasta, and sandwiches.
The Best of Italy highlights the Cucciolo for its ambiance. As well for informal and attentive service. Then, you can choose your meal and combine it with the house wine. It will be well served and very little spent.
The Cucciolo is located one block from the Duomo of Florence and the Baptistery. It is closed on Mondays.
Main sights of Florence
Florence Cathedral (Duomo)
The Florence Cathedral (or Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral) is located in the heart of its historical center. In addition, it is also known as Florence Duomo. It stands out for the famous dome of Brunelleschi. Additionally, for the San Giovanni Baptistery, the Paradiso Bronze Gate, and the Campanile di Giotto. But, it is from the dome roof where you can have an incredible view of the city.
The Cathedral is one of the symbols and main sights of Florence. In fact, it has a fantastic Neogothic facade. This facade is in Tuscan marble, in the colors green, white and pink. Its dome of orange tiles and its steeple make it still today the highest building of the city. Finally, the construction is grand, loaded with art and history and with very peculiar characteristics. However, the Cathedral inside does not match its beautiful exterior. But it has pretty mosaics on its floor. The baptistery has a wealth of detail in its colorful mosaics and its famous bronze gates.
Every day, Florence Duomo receives around 25 thousand visitors. However, it is possible to face a queue with hundreds of visitors.
Visiting Florence Duomo and its monuments
Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria is like an open-air museum and one of the most impressive squares in Florence. There is a replica of the Michelangelo David statue. In addition, you will also find a beautiful Fountain of Neptune, the abduction of Giambologna’s Sabina, and Perseus with the head of Medusa, Cellini, among others.
Located in the historic center, near the Uffizzi Galleria, it is a place that you will certainly walk through several times. Enjoy appreciating the sculptures and Palazzo Vecchio which is the current city hall of the comune of Firenze.
If your hotel is in the historic center, a tip is to do a walking tour, not only through the day but at night too. It is bright and very beautiful. The square is also the site of many events such as meetings and festivals, as well as requests and celebrations.
Piazza della Repubblica
The Piazza della Republica is another classic tourist spot in Florence. It is a square located in the historical center, a few meters of Duomo.
Highly frequented by tourists as well as locals. Thus, it is a very busy square, even at night, due to the number of restaurants and cafes present there.
In addition, a beautiful carousel gives a different air from the other squares of Florence. Nearby, you will find famous attractions such as Paszkowski Concert Café, Hard Rock Café, and Apple Store.
Ponte Vecchio is a must-see in Florence and one of the city postcards. It is a beautiful medieval arch bridge that crosses the Arno River.
When crossing the bridge, it is possible to find several stores, several emblematic being goldsmiths and jewelers. They stand out not only for the beautiful works but also for their originality.
Every day, a lot of tourists cross the Ponte Vecchio. In the surroundings, you will also find lots of art such as painting and amazing street musicians. In addition, the Arno River view is also a great attraction, any time of the day. But, it is at sunset that you can take the best photos of the place.
Piazzalle Michelangelo is in the Oltrarno district (across the river Arno). Located on a hill, the square possesses a breathtaking panoramic view of the city of Florence. In addition, the square has a replica of the statue of David. On place, you will find a fair and sale of souvenirs. Furthermore, during the year happens several events like Gelato Festival.
The Piazzalle Michelangelo is on the City SightSeeing route and is an amazing stopping point. However, you can go walking, from the Ponte Vecchio. The walk is about 1.4km and lasts about 20 minutes. However, it is also possible to go by bus from Firenze Santa Maria Novella station (bus number 12 or 13). You can combine the bus ride with the descent by foot and see what’s on the way. In Oltrarno, there are other sights that deserve to be visited: Palazzo Pitti and Giardino de Bomboli.
Museum / Florence Galleries
Galleria degli Uffizzi
The Galleria degli Uffizzi is the largest art museum in Italy. This gallery is located in the historic center of Florence quite near to Piazza della Signora. It has one of the largest collections in the world.
Uffizi was built by Giorgio Vasari at the request of Cosmo I de Medici so that there were administrative and legal offices (Uffizzi, in ancient Italian).
There you can enjoy the best of Italian art, including Gothic, Renaissance and later works. Highlights for the works:
- The Spring by Botticelli
- Birth of Venus by Botticelli
- Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael
- The Holy Family by Michelangelo
- Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci
- Bacco by Caravaggio
- Portrait of Eleonora of Toledo with her son Giovanni by Bronzino
- Madonna and child by Giotto
- Madonna with child and two angels by Fra Filippo Lippi
- Portrait of the Dukes of Urbino by Piero della Francesca
Furthermore, also highlights for the custom-made works of the Medici Family: the Portrait of Eleonora and her son is considered a masterpiece of Bronzino. It shows the image of the Duchess Eleonora de Toledo, wife of Cosmo I and mother of 11 Medici. The portrait with the son represents the continuity of the Medici family dynasty.
On the other hand, the Birth of Venus represents the birth of the goddess of love, Aphrodite or Venus. The work was produced according to Greek mythology, which says that Venus was born from the sea under a shower of roses. It was then pushed to the beach in a shell, surrounded by the Hours or Nymphs, who are wind gods.
The painting depicts the instant the shell touches the sand and one of the Hours extends a purple cloak to the beautiful Venus, idealization of beauty, purity, and love.
It is a gallery composed of multiple sculptures by various authors. However, the great highlight is, undeniably, Michelangelo’s David statue. It impresses by its size and also by the abundance of details of the human body. The sculpture demonstrates the deep knowledge of anatomy, already existing at the period of the Renaissance.
The gallery is 600m from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, in a hidden street. So, you can take bus number 17, which departs from Santa Maria Novella station. Finally, exit at Piazza di San Marco, take the same path and turn right, without crossing the street. Just walk a few more meters to find the entrance.