Florence City Guide

Filed under featured

 

WORDS: Gwen Marie Luscombe

Overview:

As the culture capitol of Italy and the birthplace of the Renaissance, there’s more art in Florence then you’re likely ever see in your lifetime. It’s a Mecca for art historians, and with good reason as there are roughly 72 art museums in the city. Here you’ll find some of the world’s most famous works of the Renaissance including Michelangelo’s giant marble sculpture ‘David’,  Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ and da Vinci’s ‘Annunciation.’

It’s also the capitol of the Tuscany region, making it a prime destination for lovers of fine food and wine and if you’re a fashionista, Florence is certainly not shy when it comes to fashion. Famous for its gold and leather, here you’ll also find all of Italy’s luxury labels such as Gucci, Prada, Aramani, etc. as well as plenty of handmade artisan items and gifts to take home.

It’s a fairly small and easily walkable city where you can wander across the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, walking the very same path as da Vinci and Michelangelo and get a clear understanding of exactly where their inspiration originated. Florence is the most beautifully balanced mix of romance, art, history, architecture and really great wine.

This guide made possible by Travel Associates

Must Do:

Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and an art (and wine) lover’s dream destination. Located in the Tuscany region, this is exactly where you want to be to indulge the senses. With so much available, here are our top 10 ‘must-do’ experiences:

  1. Visit Ponte Vecchio

This remarkable bridge over the Arno River is laden with jewellery shops and while up close it might not seem so spectacular, viewing it from a distance, you’ll see why it’s one of the most photographed icons.  The best photos are from Ponte Santa Trinita.

  1. Visit Piazzale Michelangelo

Enjoy the very best panoramic city view from this spot in Oltrano just in the historic district. The square, dedicated to artist Michelangelo showcases bronze sculptures of many of his famous pieces found in the museums of Florence, including the famous ‘David’.

  1. See Michelangelo’s David

Visit the Accademia Gallery, located near Piazza San Marco for the authentic sculpture of ‘David’, you’ll find a few replicas throughout the city including the most photographed on Piazza della Signoria, and at Piazzale Michelangelo, but this one is the real deal.

  1. Eat, Eat, Eat

Visit the San Lorenzo Market or the Mercato Centrale and eat, eat, eat (then have some gelato). You’ll find a huge assortment of regional produce and street food vendors serving up more than you can imagine possible.  Mercato Centrale’s upstairs food court is foodie heaven.

  1. Tuscan wine tasting

Whether you’ve organised a formal day tour, a walking wine tour visiting some of the city’s more popular enotecas, or creating your own wine itinerary, Florence is full of boutique wine bars. Many of them have wine cellars with bottles by the hundreds.  

  1. Go to the Duomo

Considered the heart of the city, The Duomo, bell tower and Baptistry are all here. These impressive architectural masterpieces are pretty fascinating even if you aren’t religious. Don’t miss the bronze door of the Baptistry or ‘Gates of Paradise’. Entry to the Cathedral is free.

  1. Wake up early

Wake up bright and early well before the tourists do. You’ll likely be awake with jet lag anyway. Put on your walking shoes and stroll the city with your camera. You’ll get your best photos of the city when it’s quiet, still and empty.

  1. See the masterpieces

Enjoy the Renaissance classics at the Uffizi Gallery where you’ll find so much artwork you’ll need a full day to get through it all, so plan accordingly or strategically. More popular pieces include Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ and da Vinci’s ‘Annunciation’.  

  1. Take a cooking class

You’ll find plenty of different classes to choose from, some include full day tours to farmhouses and produce markets others are local inside the Mercato Centrale. Either way, you can learn how to make the signature Florentine steak, pizza, gelato, classic pastas and more.

  1. Wander and shop in Oltrarno

The quieter side of Florence on the other side of the river is the historic centre and a quaint local neighbourhood full of shopping, galleries and cafes. Visit Boboli Gardens; an 11 acre park and botanic garden that’s full of outdoor sculptures and a grotto.

 

Sleep:

When you’ve exhausted yourself with all there is to see in Florence, you’ll need a place to rest and recharge. Here are a few luxury and boutique properties in the region and why you’re going to want to call them home when visiting.

  1. Hotel Rivoli

This boutique property was once a fourteenth-century Franciscan monastery and has a quaint sitting rooms and a ‘secret garden’ courtyard that’s ideal for relaxing. Weather permitting; the garden is a lovely spot for dinner served up by in-house Ristorante Benedicta.

  1. Santa Maria Novella Hotel

The rooftop terrace and bar at this 4-star property has fabulous city views, especially of the Basilica Santa Maria Novella. It’s located right in the heart of Florence; walking distance to most everything you’ll want to see and just steps from Florence’s central train station.

  1. Hotel Brunelleschi

This elegant and very romantic property is located in the historic district once owned by popular Renaissance architect and engineer Filippo Brunelleschi. Popular with honeymooners, it’s also located in the central part of the city, close to the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery.

  1. Bernini Palace Hotel

Perfectly located for those keen to do some serious high-end shopping, luxury brand lined street, via de’ Tornabuoni, is just a short stroll away. The 5th floor terrace is a wonderful spot to enjoy a bottle of Tuscan wine from the bar.

  1. Golden Tower Hotel & Spa

The home of the historic Strozzi family until 1492, when they moved to Palazzo Strozzi, near the popular square now named for them. Located near the city centre, this luxury hotel is now regarded for its indulgent day spa and wellness retreat.

  1. Hotel Savoy

Centrally located near the Piazza della Repubblica, the Hotel Savoy is one of the city’s finest. In- house bistro Irene is an ideal place for lunch with its more casual approach on fine dining. Travelling children also get an adorable gingerbread man at turndown.

  1. Montebello Splendid

This grand luxury hotel is set in a beautifully restored 18th century villa near the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence’s historic centre. During the evening, in-house restaurant Capriccio serves traditional Tuscan fare from a candlelit terrace for a little extra romance.

  1. Rapallo Hotel

This boutique property just might offer the very best included breakfast in Florence; a great way to kick off your day of sightseeing. Rooms reflect a more modern décor and some offer a private terrace with views of San Lorenzo and the Fiesole hills.

  1. St Regis Florence

The St Regis is located near the Arno River and many of its rooms offers spectacular views of it and Ponte Vecchio. This grand hotel has an in-house Michelin-starred restaurant, Restaurant Winter Garden by Caino, which is located inside a glassed in garden.

  1. The Westin Excelsior

This modernised five star palace is the epitome of luxury in Florence. Set along the Arno River, you can enjoy a drink on one of the hotel’s terraces with some of the best views you’ll get in the city, especially from the rooftop deck bar.

 

Eat:

Italians take their food very seriously and when in Tuscany, the wine is a way of life, so there’s no better place to enjoy a great meal than right here. From fine dining to the best quick bites, here are our top ten places to dine.

  1. La Bottega del Buon Caffe

Close to Piazza Michelangelo, this fine dining hot spot is Michelin starred and ideal for a romantic or special occasion dinner. Offering an Italian wine list from all over the country, you’ll experience the best local produce paired with remarkable wines.

  1. Sandwichic

There are sandwiches, and then there’s Sandwichic. This local eatery serves up some of the best focaccia sandwiches in Florence. Since they’re reasonably low priced, it’s perfect for grabbing a quick lunch or light dinner while exploring the city. If there’s a queue, line up!

  1. Ora D’Aria

Although Michelin starred, it’s the history behind Ora D’Aria that’s rather intriguing. For years it was located opposite historic women’s prison, Le Murate. The name means ‘hour of air’ referring to the required hour of exercise. Now located near Uffizi Gallery, it continues to impress.

  1. Il Bufalo Trippone

This is antipasti heaven. Tucked away from the tourist crowd and rather small inside, this place is for those who relish in cured meats, cheeses, foccacias, and local wines too.  The best part is that it’s one of the least expensive places to dine in Florence.

  1. Marco Ottaviano Il Gelato Gourmet

No trip to Italy is complete without gelato and this is where the locals go as it’s authentic, tasty and offers tasting of the many flavours they have on offer. They’re located smack in the epicentre of the tourist area in Duomo.

  1. Aurelio I Re del Lampredotto

Lampredotto sandwiches were once considered a peasants dish, but are now a popular ‘street-eat’ everywhere in Florence. Made from tripe and cooked with tomato, onion and celery, the best place to try one is this food stall at Piazza Bernardo Tanucci.

  1. Mercato Centrale

Downstairs, this market has everything a foodie could want and more, but before you fill up and stock up on treats, go upstairs. Here you’ll find an always buzzing food court where you can try a bit of everything with local beers and wine too.

  1. La Reggia degli Etruschi

It’s a little out of town in Fiesole, but worth the trip, guests ascend a steep cobblestone path to reach this tasty destination serving traditional Florentine cuisine.  Perfect for wine lovers with its extensive cellar, it’s exclusive, romantic and the panoramic view is certainly memorable.

  1. I’Tuscani 2

Located in Duomo, this is rumoured to be the best place in the city for steak lovers. Portions here are generous and with its casual atmosphere, it’s an ideal dinner spot during your stay.  Make sure to sample the local wines and grappa on offer.

  1. Trattoria Mario

Get in when they open for lunch as this place fills with locals and tourists alike quickly. The menu offers some great local dishes including fresh pastas, tripe as well as ribollita, a thick and hearty soup made of cannellini beans and naturally, local house wines.

 

Drink:

Florence is for wine lovers and you’ll find it everywhere from secluded wine cellars to rooftop bar with views over the city. So if you’re looking for a tasty vino, an aperitivo, espresso or just a cold beer at sunset, here are some of the best places to get one.

  1. Alimentari Uffizi

As the name suggests, this tiny wine bar and deli is located near the Uffizi and serves some of the best antipasti platters to accompany your drinks. Most everything served here comes from the owner’s family farm or is locally sourced.  

  1. The Golden View Open Bar

Each room offers a pretty memorable view of the River Arno and Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery. With both a restaurant and bar, it’s an ideal spot to book in for aperitivo and bar snacks or go VIP and book the exclusive wine tasting session.

  1. La Terrazza

This outdoor bar on the historic side of Florence is above the Hotel Continentale and is a top spot to have a sunset beer, a cocktail or just a coffee and enjoy the views. Get in early to grab a spot, as it fills quickly.

  1. Café Neri Ponte Vecchio

The perfect spot to stop and enjoy a good cappuccino and cannoli; this café has everything your sweet tooth could dream of, and then some as the dessert cabinet here is super-sized. Pair your coffee with a fresh pastry and enjoy them like locals-standing up.

  1. Dolce Vita Bar

Located in the Piazza del Carmine, this swanky hotspot is great for a pre-dinner cocktail or a glass of wine as you browse the rotating selections of artwork in the attached exhibition gallery. It’s also popular after-hours when the DJ takes to the decks.  

  1. Hops Pub

If you’re keen for a traditional pub with Italian beer on tap and plenty of bottled beer from across the globe, this is your place.  You’ll find big televisions with sporting games on and a mix of both tourists and locals.

  1. La Via del Te

Make your way into Santa Croce to Piazza Ghiberti for this delightful tea room. They offer hundreds of tea infusions as well as tea tastings and a quirky dessert menu to match. Teas can also be boxed up and properly labelled to travel internationally.

  1. The Red Garter

It’s somewhat of a local institution and a Florence contradiction, but The Red Garter is where to go late-night when karaoke seems like a great idea and you’re craving American style burgers. It’s loud, crazy and there’s almost always live music and plenty of laughter.

  1. Enoteca Fuori Porta

After you’ve savoured the view at Piazza del Michelangelo, pop in here for a celebratory drop. This wine bar has 550-600 labels available at any one time and new wines arriving frequently. Drink by the glass or bottle and enjoy the rustic bar menu

  1. Chianti Classico

Above the Mercato Centrale, you find a buzzing food court full of Italian fare. It’s also where wine lovers can speak with winemaking experts at Chianti Classico and enjoy over 1,200 labels available to try by the glass or bottle, every day until midnight.

 

Shop:

Italy is a shopper’s paradise and as you might expect, Florence offers everything from high end fashion to quality leather products, artwork and collectibles, gold jewellery, food and of course, wine.  Whatever you’re looking for, here are some of the best places to find it:

  1. Luxury brands

Italy is home of high fashion and if you’re seeking designer labels like Armani, Gucci, Prada and the like, you’ll find them all lined up on along Via Tornabuoni. Since the 14th century, this street homes the wealthier families of Florence and prices reflect that.

  1. Fashion

For those seeking international fashion brands such as Zara, H&M and the like visit Via Calimala and the area near Piazza della Repubblica. Italian department stores Coin and Rinascente also have a few locations around the city centre and offer popular fashion brands.

  1. Jewellery

Jewellers are everywhere in Florence and Ponte Vecchio is known for its goldsmiths and jewellery craftsmen lined up across the bridge. If you’re seeking something custom designed or a little bit extra-special visit the jewellers in the less touristy area of Oltrarno.  

  1. Food

Since 1876, the Mercato Centrale has been one of the best places to taste and discover a huge range of local produce as well as shop for handmade gifts. True foodies should set aside several hours as there’s plenty to see and more importantly, eat.

  1. Souvenirs

The other half of Mercato Cenrale or San Lorenzo Market is an outdoor market packed with everything from trinkets to leather goods. A ‘cheap and cheerful’ tourist market open Tuesday to Saturday where you’re certain to find the usual take-home souvenirs or quirky items.

  1. Vintage

Treasure hunters should visit Piazza Ciompi where they’ll find small shops full of flea market-style vintage items from antique books to artwork and furniture.  On the last Sunday of the month the market area expands into the streets, attracting bargain hunters far and wide.

  1. Leather

From handbags to jackets and shoes, Florence is known for its quality leather. You’ll find handmade leather items everywhere, especially near Piazza Santa Croce. However, quality and pricing will vary from shop to shop, so pay close attention to both.

  1. Handmade toys

You’ll find Bartolucci in a few Italian cities but stepping inside one (off via Condotta) is like entering Geppetto’s workshop.  Handmade wooden toys, ornaments and of course wooden Pinocchio puppets fill the shop. Many items can be personalised for free as an adorable gift.

  1. Artisan goods

Venture across the river to the Piazza di Santo Spirito where you’ll find artisanal workshops selling hand-bound leather journals, mosaics from Murano glass, jewellery and if you love stationary, plenty of paper goods, calligraphy items, sealing stamps and notecards that can be customised.

  1. Perfumes

One of the world’s oldest pharmacies, and once operated by Dominican monks, Officina Profuma Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is located on Via della Scala and sells perfumes and essences dating back hundreds of years. More than fragrances, it also sells teas and luxury toiletries.

 

Active:

If you’re concerned that you’ve filled up on all that handmade pasta, cheeses and Tuscan wine, and want to burn off those excess calories or if you’re just keen to stay fit during your travels, here are a clever ways to do it and still feel like you’re on holiday.

 

  1. Bicycle through Tuscany

Take a pleasant break from the city centre and hop on your bicycle as you enjoy a guided tour through the countryside. Organisations like Tuscany Bike Tours or I Bike Italy offer day tours with plenty of commentary for smaller groups with lunch included.

  1. Get a bird’s eye view

Enjoy a morning of hot air ballooning with companies like Tuscany Ballooning who will leave you awestruck as you glide over the vineyards and rolling countryside of Tuscany before finishing your morning with a Champagne breakfast, of course!

  1. Take a dip

You can easily cool down during the summer months or practice your backstroke at one of Florence’s several outdoor pools.  Many will offer half or full day access from €5-10. Most city pools stay open until late September.

  1. Hike Cinque Terre

Take a day trip to Cinque Terre where you can hike this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site named for the five fishing villages on the Italian Riviera. Hosted day tours typically include rail and boat transfers between villages, entry in to the National Park and lunch.

  1. Play a round of golf

Spend a day on the green at Golf Club Castelfalfi in nearby Montaione. With 27 holes, you can play 18 on the mountain course and/or the remaining 9 on the lake course. Poggio dei Medici Golf Club offers 18 holes in Scarperia e San Piero.

  1. Walking the city

The best way to see the city is on foot and with organisations like Context Tours you can experience all the best of the city with a knowledgeable local. Most often, you can also skip the queues at the more popular attractions with your group.

  1. Hop on a Vespa

What’s more Italian than getting on a Vespa and enjoying the city like the locals? Florence Vespa Tours leads a group of ten off the beaten path to experience the Tuscan hills and other points of interest. With lunch included, it’s a thrilling morning out.

  1. Tuscany on horseback

A variety of tour operators specialise in full day tours into the Chianti region departing from Florence where you can visit cellar doors, learn a bit about winemaking, enjoy a Tuscan style meal and ride horseback through vineyards and olive groves.

  1. Parco Avventura Il Gigante

If you’re travelling with family, this adventure park in nearby Vaglia has an aerial climbing park from the treetops where they can climb, hang and zip line from treetop to treetop and back to the ground.   It’s ideal for parents and kids alike.

  1. Enjoy the Arno

A variety of water sports are available on the Arno River including sailing, stand up paddle boarding, water biking (a bicycle on a flotation device that paddles along the river) and much more. Or take it easy and enjoy river cruising with some wine.

 

Arts:

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, beautiful artwork and architecture are everywhere in Florence. Florence is the home of well-known pieces such as Michelangelo’s ‘David’, da Vinci’s ‘Annunciation’ and Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus.’ But artwork aside, you’d need months to experience all the fine arts have to offer here.  

  1. Visit the Uffizi Gallery

Likely Florence’s most famous art museum; here’s where you’ll find the works of da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo and more. Take a guided tour if you can as you’ll learn way more than what you’d read in art history books, tours last 2-3 hours.

  1. Accadamia Gallery

The city’s second popular gallery and located near the Piaza San Marco, it’s not just the home of Michelangelo’s original ‘David,’ but houses many other masterpieces from Botticelli, del Sarto among others. Recently added, the Museum of Musical Instruments, also features original masterpieces by Stradivari.

  1. Enjoy free opera

Several churches, such as St Mark’s English Church regularly hold free concerts and opera performances. The highly acclaimed St Mark’s Opera Company also hosts performances which come at a reasonable entry fee. It’s an inexpensive way to enjoy some heavenly music.

  1. Visit Teatro Comunale

This enormous auditorium was partially destroyed twice, by an air raid in 1944 and by the famous flood of 1966.  Today it’s the centrepiece of the popular Maggio Musicale festival and opera, orchestra and ballet performances regularly take to the stage.  

  1. Viva La Bohemia

Le Murate Caffè Letterario, which is set in a former prison, is where the literati meet, create and perform. It regularly hosts interviews with authors, independent film screenings, live music, talks and exhibitions.  Check in advance to see what’s on or let yourself be surprised.

  1. Jazz it up

From late June until September, free jazz concerts are held at Piazza della SS Aunninziata for free. You’ll hear everything from Miles Davis and Billie Holiday to eclectic Cuban and African inspired jazz. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, street food and a great atmosphere.

  1. Go to church

Florence is packed with impressively grand churches that are works of architecture themselves, but The Basilica di Santa Croce in particular, houses some significant artworks including frescos by Giotto. The Basilica also houses the tombs of notable figures such as Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo and others.

  1. See a film

Built in 1462, Teatro Odeon is a beautifully restored theatre that’s hosted some world greats on its stage including Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Now an art nouveau cinema, screenings of independent films, Hollywood blockbusters and specialty film festivals are regularly on the programme.

  1. Get folky

If you’re experiencing a bit of art fatigue, visit Six Bars Jail. A popular spot for, this cosy concert hall regularly showcases a variety of highly talented folk and jazz guitarists. It’s a great spot to enjoy an evening drink and some serious talent.

  1. Circo-lo Teatro del Sale

This live entertainment/dinner theatre experience includes a 20 course tasting menu, unlimited Tuscan wine and plenty of song, music and merriment. Even if you can’t understand the chefs as they call out each course, the atmosphere is so much fun, you’ll never notice.

Diary:

Florence offers so much to keep your itinerary full, but if you can time your trip just right to coincide with one of its popular special events or festivals, you’ll truly be spoiled for choice with options. From fashion to music to religious festivals, here are some of the more popular ones:  

  1. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Since its beginnings in 1933, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is now Italy’s oldest arts festival. Taking place from late April until June, virtually every arts venue fills with internationally acclaimed classical music performers, ballet recitals, chamber music concerts and opera performances.

  1. Estate Fiesolana

Taking place every (Italian) summer, this arts festival celebrates all things dance, music, theatre, poetry and cinema. Held as an open-air festival, it attracts thousands to experience concerts and performances in Fiesole’s 2,000 year old Roman amphitheatre.

  1. Festival of Lanterns

Each September the Florence Festa della Rificolona, brings the farming community together with a celebratory farmers market in the Piazza of SS Annunziata on the eve of the birth of the Virgin. Celebrations, music and children carrying rificolone (paper lanterns) are now part of the festival.

  1. Wine festivals

Throughout September, several wine tasting festivals and events take place in the regional winemaking areas, celebrating all things Chianti. Wine tastings, winery tours and wine matched dinners are held in Chianti and the nearby town of Vagliagli.

  1. Pitti Immagine

The fashionistas flock to Florence for this series of fashion events, each focussing on their own genre for men, women, children, even accessories and fragrances are showcased. There are five different events a year so it’s likely to be there when one is on.

  1. Epiphany

Almost more popular than Christmas and held on January 6, a grand parade honouring the arrival of The Three Wise Men or Magi, and general celebrations fill the city marking the 12th day of Christmas. The procession starts from Palazzo Pitti, ending in Piazza del Duomo.

  1. Scoppio del Carto

The ‘explosion of the cart’ held on Easter Sunday at Piazza del Duomo consists of a giant wagon rigged with fireworks awaiting a dove shaped ignitor that sets of a bevy of colourful explosions in celebration of Easter and a bountiful agricultural harvest  ahead.

  1. Giro d’Italia

This annual long-distance professional cycling race also known as the Tour of Italy and is held over three weeks every year in May or early June.  The starting point changes each year, always ending in Milan, but it passes through Florence with great fanfare.

  1. Festival dei Popoli

Florence’s film festival typically takes place in late November or early December and has both international and Italian categories and focuses heavily on documentaries.  The cities cinemas offer a huge variety of screenings, talks and special events for film general buffs and industry professionals alike.

  1. Viareggio Carnevale (Carnival)

Much like Carnevale celebrations across Italy, this festival features parades of enormous paper-maché floats up to 20 metres high carrying several costumed participants, competing for ‘best dressed’ prizes. Glamorous masked balls, musical comedy and theatre shows and choir performances also take place.

 

Tales:

 

A city so rich in history; Florence is a city of stories. It’s inspired authors and filmmakers with both its intriguing past and its present beauty.  So if you’re keen to be further inspired before you travel or learn more when you arrive home, here’s where to get started.

Films:

  1. Tea with Mussolini

This film from the late 1990’s is set in Florence before and during World War II. Starring Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith (who won a BAFTA Award for her performance) it’s about a group of English women taking care of a young Florentine boy.

  1. Obsession

Multi-award winning film director Brian De Palma’s psychological thriller about a kidnapping and murder that is seemly repeating itself; much of the movie is focussed on Florence’s majestic San Miniato al Monte church and its panoramic views.

  1. Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance

This informative four-party documentary miniseries was created in 2004 and delves into the history of Florence’s most well-known family. It’s a fascinating account that celebrates the victories and reveals the violent tragedies that created the Renaissance movement as we know it.  

  1. Under the Tuscan Sun

Based on the memoir of Frances Mayes, an American woman decides to dramatically change her life following a messy divorce by purchasing a Villa in Tuscany. The 2003 romantic comedy stars Diane Lane who received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.

  1. Secrets of Florence

This National Geographic documentary reveals the lesser-known dark underbelly of Florence’s history. Professional art investigators unveil secret tunnels underneath the city streets and theatres and use thermo-cameras to uncover curious findings below famous landmarks and artworks.

 

Books:

  1. A Room with a View – E.M. Forester

This classic romance novel is set in the Victorian era when the English travelled Europe to educate their sons and find husbands for their daughters.  With Florence as its backdrop, it’s a story of love and misunderstandings in a strict time period.

  1. Hannibal – Thomas Harris

This thriller is the third novel in the Hannibal Lecter series which sees an FBI agent on the trail of serial killer Lecter who is hiding in Florence.  The book was adapted into a film in 2001 directed by Ridley Scott and a television series as well.

  1. The House of Medici – Christopher Hibbert

This non-fiction account of Florence’s first family of the Renaissance is full of wealth, religious scandals, two French queens and much political turmoil. It’s a fascinating story that historians, particularly art historians, will relish. The index tells where to find many remaining artworks still in Florence.

  1. Italian Renaissance Art – Laurie Schneider Adams

This comprehensive guide of Renaissance art is a great crash course or refresher to read before you leave or while you’re visiting. Covering everything from the most renowned masterpieces to the lesser known but equally fascinating works, it’s a great introduction to Italian art history.

  1. Inferno- Dan Brown

Inferno is from the author of the popular Da Vinci Code. Professor Robert Langdon wakes in a Florence hospital without memory of the last 36 hours and is pursued by an assassin. This thriller focuses on Florentine Dante Alighieri´s literary work The Divine Comedy.

24 Hours:

With just 24 hours in Florence, it’s essential to make it count. It’s easy to walk the city so you’ll get to see plenty along the way to each of your attractions. Here’s an ideal way to make the most of your day.

5:00 a.m.
Yes, get up that early, if it’s winter, wait for sunrise. Grab your camera and wander. This is the very best time to photograph the city without the tourists and crowds. You’ll get amazing images of the basilicas and statues that line the streets and you’ll also get some incredible photos of sunrise over the Arno from Ponte Vecchio.

7:00 a.m.
Grab your morning pastry and cappuccino while you’re at Ponte Vecchio from Café Neri Ponte Vecchio. This café is packed full of fresh cannoli and pastries that are impossible to resist.  

8:00 a.m.
One of the most popular art museums, Uffuzi Gallery gets crowded fast, so get there right as they open and book your ticket early to skip the queue. If you can plan ahead to visit your favourite Renaissance artworks early you’ll have more time to enjoy them before the crowds arrive.

12:00 p.m.
Enjoy the less crowded side of Florence (Oltrarno), grab a bite to eat on the go and visit some of the artisan workshops on your way to The Palazzo Pitti, the palace that was the home of the ruling Medici family. It’s now a gallery with over 500 Renaissance paintings.

3:00 p.m.
Visit Accademia Gallery in the afternoon when most of the tour groups have gone and crowds a bit less. See Michelangelo’s original David in his 5-plus metres of solid marble glory.

5:00 p.m.
If you’re experiencing art overload hike up to Piazza Michelangelo for views of the city you won’t soon forget. Also a great place for photos!

7:00 p.m.
Visit Mercato Centrale for some shopping, Chianti tastings and to experience the general buzz of the central market. You’ll find almost everything you’d want to take home on the bottom level of this local market.  

8:30 p.m.
Either head upstairs at the market to enjoy dinner from one of several food vendors where you can try a bit of everything – and then some. Alternatively, make a booking for dinner at one of the city’s remarkable restaurants.

10:30 p.m.
Celebrate your full day of sight-seeing with a post-dinner drink at a local enoteca or wine bar and rest your weary feet or get a late night dessert at a local gelato bar and treat yourself before returning to your accommodation for a well-deserved sleep.  

 

You must be logged in to post a comment Login