Florence, Italy is like an open-air museum depicting the renaissance of Italy. The streets are full of art, architecture and glimpse of the rich history. Like many cities of Italy, Florence is also filled with churches and chapels which show superb artwork by many great artists. It is must to visit some of the churches to witness the magnificent work of these historical masterpieces.
I think even a month-long visit to this city is not enough to fully grasp the rich history and to experience the specialty of present-day shops, restaurants and shops. There are many museums, piazzas, churches, bridges, gardens and areas to explore and earn these beautiful memories of time.
The best way to visit Florence Italy is to create a list of city’s best attractions and places to visit and prepare for guided tours to all these places when you reach there. In a couple of days, you will realize that there are still so much to see in such a short time. So, it is recommended to choose your places of interests and activities wisely and smartly.
Ville Sull’ Arno
I booked my stay at Ville Sull’ Arno from an online booking website. This is an awesome hotel to stay just by the river Arno. They provide complementary bikes for the guests. They have a very good Italian onsite restaurant called Flora and Fauno. This is a great & quiet place to stay near the center of the city with great views and amazing photography options.
The hotel is near to the Tuscan hall, Nelson Mandela Forum, Piazzale Michelangelo. There is also a supermarket nearby. This is probably the best area to stay in Florence, Italy.
The hotel and rooms are very clean, staff is very helpful. The sauna, steam & indoor pool is great. The outdoor pool and bar are also very nice.
5 Places to Visit in Florence, Italy
If you want to skip crowd and enjoy a beautiful garden that will give you long lasting pleasurable memories, then Giardino Bardini is the best option. The garden is most of the time all available for you. There is very less crowd here. The garden is restored for tourists and locals. Soon, there will be lot of visitors coming to this garden regularly.
You can walk quietly and calmly through the whole garden in just 1 hour. You can have great city views on the top. There is a little bar and you can enjoy your Florence city views with glass of wine.
The best time to visit the garden is in April when the mesmerizing purple wisteria arch blossoms. If you arrive early in the morning, you will get a great chance to meet the beautiful butterflies and chirping birds that will enchant you.
Statue of David
The statue of Michelangelos David is one of the most favorite sculptures in the world. It is carved out of a single block of marble around 500 years ago. Recently the pictures and selfies have been allowed at the place and that makes it more awesome. This piece of art is magnificently detailed and there might be long queue when you go to visit it but it’s worth the wait.
The statue represents the biblical hero David who is known as the first King of Israel. It is located at the “Hall of Prisoners” at Galleria Dell’ Accademia which offers a lot of other fantastic sculptures as well. The Gallery has many magnificent art symbols of botany, music and paintings. There is a dedicated musical instrument museum at the gallery which depicts the instruments of opera, theater and classic music.
Uffizi gallery is also one of the most famous and most visited places in the Florence Italy. The building was actually made for offices that turned into a museum later. That is why it takes some time to reach at the actual entrance of the museum.
The museum is home to many Roman sculptures, abstract shaped objects and wonderful paintings. Uffizi Gallery Paintings are a delight to watch. There are some of the largest altarpieces in the start created by Giotto and Cimabue. The first hall does give you a feeling that you are visiting an old church. There are stunning portraits of Dukes of the Urbino in the Hall of Renaissance where you can also see masterpieces by Paolo Uccello and Masaccio and profile of Federico da Montefeltro.
After this you will enter the largest hall of the museum which has some breathtaking collections of paintings specially by Sandro Botticelli. The renovated halls are now equipped with better lighting to enhance your art experience.
The Duomo, Florence’s magnificent cathedral was built in the 13th century by Arnolfo di Cambio and later on in 15th century, the famous dome designed by Filippo Brunelleshchi was added to the Cathedral. Both architects have been praised by putting their statue outside the cathedral at the right side. The front of the church was finished properly in the 19th century.
The entrance to the Duomo of Florence is free but to visit the museum, to climb up the dome and to visit baptistery, you need to buy a Grande Museo del Duomo pass. The best way to enjoy the inside of Dome is to climb up its 436 steps while admiring the wall paintings by Giorgio Vasari.
There is an antique large clock inside the church above the entrance. This was designed in 1443 where the 24th hour of the day used to end at the sunset. The exterior is well decorated with marbles of pink, green and white.
Duomo of Florence is located at Piazza del Duomo which is one of the famous main squares of Florence Italy. There are lots of souvenir stalls and street vendors in this area. The square is filled with many shops, cafes and restaurants and is one of the busiest areas of the city.
Palazzo Pitti in Florence Italy
Palazzo Pitti is built at the southern bank of the river Arno. Once home to the Italian royal and powerful families, now it is considered as the largest museum complex in Florence, Italy. There are magnificent pieces of art and paintings in the beautifully decorated galleries inside the museum. The famous veiled lady by Raphael, Dante’s death mask and art by Titian, Rubens and Caravaggio are some notable attractions.
There is a beautiful bridge called Ponte Vecchio which connects Palazzo Pitti with Piazza del Duomo. This bridge is considered a very romantic spot in Florence presenting beautiful views of the river and the bridge itself. There are several shops of jewelry at the bridge.
5 Things to do in Florence
Hop on Hop off Bus Florence
My suggestion: when you reach a new city always take a bus tour at the earliest. If the city has a river cruise, don’t miss that too. These both provide you a quick and amazing insight to the whole city with audio guides and if you are taking a bus tour, go for the hop on and hop off bus tour. These bus tour also provide you with an introductory guide and a map of the city from where you can select the places you want to visit and understand the nearby stops.
There are two major routes of the bus tour in Florence. One is Florence city tour that takes around 1 hour. Buses depart every 15 to 30 minutes from different stops. As the name states this tour takes you around the city on a 16km route approximately starting from Santa Maria Novella to Piazzale Michelangelo. The main city center is around a 5 minutes’ walk from the nearest bus stop.
The other one is called Florence Fiesole tour which takes around 2 hours. This tour is great to see the city plus most of the museums. If you are staying for 2 to 3 days in Florence it would be almost necessary to visit the nearby famous Etruscan city called Fiesole. This is not very far from the Florence downtown. Because Fiesole is situated on a hilltop, from there you can have splendid view of the Florence city. There are also great opportunities for walking and trekking and some amazing photography sessions.
Walking Tours in Florence Italy
There are several guided walking tour options to explore the city of Florence on foot. They are not so expensive and some come complementary with other tour packages. You can have walking tours of the best-known places, including Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi and many more. You can walk through the city streets learning about the Roman history, culture and important personalities.
Florence Leather Market
Florence is very famous for its leather production since ancient times. Florence and other small towns bordering the Arno river became successful in producing high quality leather. The endless supply of water from Arno also provided a lot of benefit to the leather market. Today you can find thousands of splendid items of soft leather beautifully designed in different textures and colors. As a buyer I am sure you will be extremely overwhelmed by the variety and will get confused in choosing the best possible option or simply will end up buying more than enough leather stuff.
Pasta Classes in Florence Italy
If you are in Florence for 3 days, one of the best things to experience is attending a pasta making class. This might be a full day tour including a market visit. You can learn about pasta making ingredients and can also search them at a Florentine market. An expert chef will describe in detail the history of pasta, how to handle the delicacy and to maintain the rich and soft texture while cooking in different styles.
Ideal tour for people who love food, pasta or simply enjoy cooking. You will be able to prepare the traditional pasta dishes yourself.
Florence Wine Tours
Florence and Tuscan wines are very famous in the world specially the wines from Chianti. Two biggest wine making rival families are Antinori and Frescobaldi who are making wines since 8 centuries. You can visit any cellar to enjoy a delightful wine tasting or you can take special wine tasting tours that take your inside a bar and you can taste the most famous wines produced.
There are private wine tours with expert guides, or you can take a wine tasting tour yourself. There are several small stands of wine at almost every corner of the Florence from where you can sip a glass of wine and move on to the next one. If you cannot get the chance to visit chianti or other famous wine producing regions in Tuscany, I will recommend you to visit Piazza del Vino. This is a great wine shop just outside the historical center. You can sip great tasting wine and enjoy tasty food meals here.