Florence City Breaks
Capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is home to so many masterpieces of art and architecture that it’s difficult to know where to start. It’s also very much a living city with a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene and scores of interesting and quirky shops.
The number one attraction on many people’s list is the Uffizi Gallery, home to the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art. The Accademia art gallery contains Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David as well as other of Michelangelo’s sculptures. The famous “Duomo” or cathedral is possibly Florence’s most iconic landmark, capped by Brunelleschi’s distinctive red tiled dome. No visit to Florence is complete without at least some time spent dawdling on the Ponte Vecchio, browsing in the jewellers’ shops which line the oldest bridge over the River Arno. Once across the river the Renaissance Pitti Palace, home of the Medici family for many years, is well worth a visit, as are the beautiful and lavishly landscaped Boboli Gardens. One of Florence’s green lungs, the Gardens were designed for the Medici family in the 16th Century and were used as a basis for all the royal gardens in Europe, including Versailles.
A visit to the famous Uffizi Gallery is a must. The Uffizi is home to the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art including Boticello’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, Titian’s Venus of Urbino and works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. The Uffizi Gallery is amongst the most visited museums in Italy so long queues are inevitable. Weekends, Tuesdays and mornings are the busiest times. It can be worth paying a little more and buying your Uffizi tickets in advance to skip the queues and spend more time in the museum. When you need a break, head to the rooftop café for fresh air and fabulous views of the city..
The Galleria dell’Accademia houses Michelangelo’s famous statue of David, but if you don’t get to see it there is a full size replica in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, in the location where the real one used to stand before it was placed inside to protect it from vandals and the weather.
Head across the Ponte Vecchio to the huge 15th Century Pitti Palace which houses several museums including collections of paintings, porcelain, sculptures and costumes, mostly gathered together by the Medici family.
Eat & Drink
Enjoying great food and wine in Florence is not difficult at all. Eating is a serious business in the city and the best recommendation for any restaurant is the presence of locals. Local specialities include steak (bistecca alla fiorentina) and tripe (trippa) Enjoy a glass of local Chianti or treat yourself to a tasty gelato (ice cream) from one of the many gelateria which often make their ice creams in-house with fresh, natural ingredients.
For luxury shopping (or window shopping) head to the Via Tornabuoni. For a variety of Italian leather goods including clothes, bags and purses you’re best aiming for the San Lorenzo market or the area around Piazza Santa Croce. Hunt for a bargain in one of the tiny artisan shops in the labyrinth of streets around the Pitti Palace, from jewellery to leatherwork and ceramics to shoes.
The Galileo Museum, one of the few museums in Florence not dedicated solely to art. The museum is a collection of pieces that trace the history of science from Renaissance times onwards. Galileo, who lived from 1564 - 1642, was one of the most significant figures in these developments and the collection has some of Galileo's original instruments and an interactive section where you can see how some of his discoveries work on a practical level.
Across the river from the historic centre of Florence and not far from the more famous Boboli Gardens, lie the quieter and very beautiful Bardini Gardens with their Baroque statues and magnificent views of the city from the Belvedere Café.
Take a local train to Pisa – only one hour away - to see the famous leaning tower which lies in the Piazza dei Miracoli. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to the Baptistry, the Cathedral with its cavernous interior and the fascinating Camposanto, The earth below this cemetery is said to have been carried back from Golgotha in the Second Crusade, earning it the name camposanto, literally “holy field.”.
Hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, with the wettest month generally being November. Temperatures in July and August can often reach 30ºC for much of the time.
Spring and autumn to enjoy the best of the weather, although prices will be at their highest. For the best deals visit the city between November and March, when Florence is also at its quietist.
Goes well with
Rome and/or Venice, both easily reached by train.
Knowing that you can return time and time again and you still won’t have seen it all.
In Our Opinion
Cradle of the Renaissance in the heart of Tuscany, Florence is home to some of Italy's finest museums, cathedrals and churches.
Thanks for all your help customising the holiday to meet our needs...Rome & Florence
Museums and art galleries
Sampling delicious Florentine food
Combining with a stay Rome and Venice
You requested assistance for my disabled wife at each station - Pisa, Florence, Bologna, Ravenna, Ferrara and Modena. This proved to be outstanding. The people at each station - with smiles on their faces - insisted on pushing the wheelchair and carrying the cases to take us to the appropriate platform. On our return to Pisa, one even took us from the station to a restaurant some distance away, which he thought we would like - and we did!...Ravenna, Ferrara & Modena, June 2017
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