It might not be as famous as Italy’s other cities like historic Rome or Pisa with its leaning tower, but we think it’s fair to say Florence is a cultural, artistic and romantic capital all its own.
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The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is a small city filled with architectural marvels, cultural delights, breathtaking masterpieces, stylish Florentines and an atmosphere you could dip a spoon into. The birthplace of the powerful Medici family, Florence became a haven for aristocrats, architects and artists. A who’s who reads something like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto and possibly the greatest of them all Leonardo Da Vinci. That’s quite a lot of name dropping and we’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg.
With all that history and steeped in art and culture, you’ll never be bored or sorry you visited the glowing Tuscan city, and it’s a great size to simply wander to and fro in the warmth of the sunshine. It makes a perfect city break, an excellent sun holiday, a beautiful place to get married and a fun and vibrant place to entertain the kids. Find out the top tips in where to stay, what to see and what to eat in beautiful Florence from PurpleTravel.co.uk
Florence has around 80 museums, not that surprising when you think of its long and cultured history. Masterpiece Museum(s) First stop (or finish your tour with a bang) has to be the Galleria dell’ Accademia, part of the Uffizi complex and home to an instantly recognizable masterpiece: Michelangelo’s David. A combo ticket for the Uffizi and Accademia Gallery is around €18, details available here. The rest of the gallery is filled with jaw dropping masterpieces and amazing artworks. Image via @ ho visto nina volare.
Get Stuffed If stuffed animals are your thing, the Museo Zoologico La Specola is filled with taxidermy that dates back to the Medici’s time.
Learn to love your stair master Start some training now, because you’ll need it to climb the stairs of the Duomo, but the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking.
Coffee with the rich and famous at Ceffa Giacosa, owned by designer Roberto Cavalli it’s the hip choice for a steaming espresso.
Away from the tourist trail head for the twisting streets of Oltarno, where you’ll find shops offering handmade shoes or silks and cafes filled with trendy locals.
A museum of shoes We also love the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum a quirky look at the designer’s greatest achievements from his early career to his death in the 60s. On display there are shoes worn by Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn. With a killer shoe display, it’ll impress any fashionistas in town.
City by stroll Free walking tours. Who doesn’t love free stuff!? And with a local to give you their expertise, it’s hard to beat learning about the art, history and controversy of the city from the past couple of hundred years.
Pass the Piazzas Pretty much everywhere you visit in the city is filled with sights that’ll make your jaw drop. Head for the Piazza Santissima Annunziata that is home to Brunelleschi’s Ospedale degli Innocenti, formerly a children’s orphanage, or take a hike to Piazzale Michelangelo for panoramic city views. If you’re after hanging out with the cool kids, head for Piazza dei Carmen where the young and beautiful sip coffee and cocktails.
Image via @ DanteGiorgioGuazzo
A piglet Technically a boar, but known as a piglet, this fountain is a hit with locals as well as visitors who rub his snout and give him a coin for good luck. Not on a par with that other famous Italian landmark the Trevi, but still a cute place to get your photo taken.
Check out a church There is opera on offer at St Mark’s Anglican Church, a tiny building dating back to the 1800s. A very intimate and moving experience whether you’re an opera fan or not.
Shop ‘til you drop If there’s one things the Italians know, it’s fashion and Florence is a style capital. Head for Gucci, Roverto Cavalli or Dolce & Gabbana, indulge in some top Italian haute couture at Via Tornabuoni or check out the little boutiques you’ll find here and there throughout the city.
Guilty Pleasure Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, or as the locals call it gelato. The selection of ice creams is so vast it can be a bit mind blowing. Gelateria Santa Trinita offers 38 flavours of icy goodness in flavours like dark chocolate sesame or yoghurt and honey.
Eating out It is Italy, of course food is a big thing! Start off a morning with breakfast or brunch at Caffe’ Caoquinarius (Via dell’Oche) a cosy, romantic spot, that’s relatively cheap and really delicious. Cured ham, local cheeses and seasonal produce are the choices for lunch at Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina (Piazzi Pitti.) For a snack, La Prosciutteria is a meat lover’s paradise (Via Dei Neri) It prides itself on high quality meats and cheeses, and offers some of the best sandwiches you’ll ever have. Or enjoy some wine or truffles at the Mercato Centrale. Splash out on dinner at the Antica Trattoria da Tito (Via S. Gallo) where you’ll find friendly service, a buzzing atmosphere and a top choice of house favourites and speciality pastas, steaks and desserts.
Image via @ ho visto nina volare
Going wild Although you’ll probably find the nightlife isn’t as crazy as in Rome, Florence has its own style going for it. Volume (Piazza Santo Spirito) has a homely, relaxed atmosphere, a great choice for a glass of wine to unwind, the Red Garter (Via de Benci) an American style bar has karaoke and cocktails and the Mayday Club (via Dante Alighieri) is a cool and sophisticated cocktail lounge in the heart of the city.
Smart and sophisticated the Bespoke Number Nine Firenze Hotel and Spa (Via Dei Conti) is next to the Medici Chapel right in the heart of historic city. The hotel is filled with luxury touches and offers a free daily gym session. Cheap and Cheerful The 3* Hotel Bretagna is a more budget friendly choice, just a couple of minutes from the Ponte Vecchio and offers classical Italian interiors and friendly staff. 5 star Luxury on your mind? Then the Four Seasons Firenze is just the ticket. Found in a 15th century palazzo it’s a stone’s throw from Michelangelo’s David and if you can spare the expense then this is the height of indulgence.