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What do Dante, Donatello, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo have in common? Florence, of course. Renaissance spirit flows through the city as elegantly as the River Arno. It’s a veritable open-air museum. This city will take your clichés and make them new.
Not in the mood to rub elbows with busloads of tourists? Opt to explore this Tuscan classic during siesta time. But by all means go. The square’s so pretty it can’t take a bad picture. The Loggia dei Lanzi is an open-air museum of Renaissance sculptures – and they’re free to peruse. Afterwards, sip an authentic cappuccino in one of the many cafes cloistered nearby.Accommodations near Piazza della Signoria
What makes Florence the epicentre of art? All of it; but specifically the Uffizi Gallery. Its collections cover the ages, but its darlings will always be Renaissance born. You won’t find a better Art History 101 refresher. Hours wilt away inside this U-shaped mansion. The Birth of Venus tops many a best-of list. Better book tickets in advance – the masterworks cause quite a queue.Accommodations near Uffizi Gallery
Any Florentine trip certainly includes the Piazza del Duomo (the jewel in the city’s crown) and its three UNESCO World Heritage buildings. Rubberneck amid the sketchers perfecting Renaissance imitation. The white marble hits its prime at night, when the Tuscan sky blushes deep blue behind it. When you venture inside, don’t forget to look up.Accommodations near Piazza del Duomo
You don’t have to be religious to fall to your knees inside this 13th century Basilica. This architectural feat (be prepared to awe at its breadth) brims with masterworks from late, great Italians: Ghirlandaio frescoes, Giotto’s paintings and Alberti’s Renaissance facade. Built under Dominican supervision, the monks also gathered herbs and potions for Italy’s oldest pharmacy.Accommodations near Santa Maria Novella
Peruse the shops perched above the River Arno on this pedestrian bridge. Dating back to 972, its history is the stuff of storybooks. Ponte Vecchio’s seen it all from noble feuds to ruinous floods. Once a market where vendors sold meat, the smell of raw flesh tossed in the Arno disgusted the Medici dukes. Today’s retailers are much less carnivorous (they’re jewellers).Accommodations near Ponte Vecchio
Noisy in just the right way, the San Lorenzo Market marks the spot for souvenirs. Especially leather. Leather jackets, leather wallets – all with that “made in Italy” artisan wink. Meander the other vendor’s crafty wares until hunger sets in. A piatto of Florentine fair is easy to score at Trattoria Mario, so indulge your growling stomach with something typically Tuscan.Accommodations near San Lorenzo Market
Science and telescopes almost cost Galileo a Christian funeral. His head finally found rest beneath a tombstone in this Franciscan Basilica. His ghost’s in good company (Rossini, Machiavelli) – and there’s nary a more stunning cathedral in which to spend eternity. View Donatello’s handiwork (the Crucifix and gilded Annunciation) as well as myriads from other masters.Accommodations near Santa Croce
Former home to the grand dukes of Tuscany, this Renaissance-styled gargantuan is a peephole into high society. Much of the residence remains in its original styling. Uncover how the 1% lived with a visit to their Royal Apartments. Or put on your history hat. The Carriage, Costume, and Silver museums will take you to school. Recess in Boboli Gardens with its grottos and green.Accommodations near Pitti Palace
Michelangelo immortalized David (he’s dreamy, we know) from a single marble slab. He’s frozen in exquisite detail moments before his battle with Goliath. Perhaps the world’s most beloved nude, everyone who visits Florence flocks to the feet of David (the line outside proves as much). Take a picture with your mind, cause cameras aren’t allowed.Accommodations near Accademia Gallery
You can’t beat a Tuscan sunset seen from here. Follow the winding path and stone steps that scale the hillside from the Arno and Piazza Giuseppe Poggi. Signposts for Viale Michelangelo will lead you straight up to the piazza in a matter of minutes. Decent places to imbibe are nil in these parts, so pack a picnic and bring some vino.Accommodations near Piazzale Michelangelo
Our best advice for exploring the centre? Travel on foot. Pretty as the paintings that adorn its most illustrious galleries, Florence will charm you with stories and beg you to make your own. Get lost among the jewellery makers and trinket buyers of Ponte Vecchio; then tie your love to a lock on the bridge’s fence (for good luck).Accommodations in Florence Historic Center
Both district and world-famous gallery. Art students stand agog in front of masterworks (ah, Botticelli) in the Uffizi Gallery. After a Renaissance morning, buy a gelato from “Perché no!" (the mozzarella with chestnut honey is a must!) and lick it all the way to Piazza della Signoria. Navel-gaze amidst pigeons, people, and sea-coloured statues.Accommodations in Uffizi
Ah, David. Just the statue you’ve been looking for. The many replicas around town can’t hold a candle to real thing at the Galleria dell'Accademia. Wax political in nearby Piazza Santissima Annunziata (the site of 2012’s “Occupy Florence” protest). Activists aren’t the only ones with a penchant for the piazza; many a hipster is spotted here.Accommodations in San Marco - Santissima Annunziata
The luscious scent of leather, the deep-seated desire to buy a souvenir. The San Lorenzo Market is open all day, every day. Dying to pay your respects to the ghosts of Florence past? The Medici family tombs are located in the nearby Medici Chapel. The façade of this Renaissance masterwork was never finished; Michelangelo was arrested mid-design.Accommodations in San Lorenzo
Cross the River Arno to Pitti Palace, a “palazzo” turned museum. Wow at the bounding wealth. Peruse the ornate costumes, collections of silver, antique clocks, and preserved apartments from the likes of the Medici Dukes. Catch a concert at the Boboli Gardens next door (if you’re lucky) or sip a cappuccino outside and tan your limbs Italian.Accommodations in Palazzo Pitti
Pay homage to Galileo and Michelangelo, both buried beneath this Basilica. But don’t pray and run. Giotto’s frescoes decorate the Franciscan church’s interior chapels. French writer Stendhal coined his syndrome of the same here (an illness of “awe” marked by symptoms of intense nervousness caused by seeing great art).Accommodations in Santa Croce
Ready to cut your teeth on 20th century Italian art? Museo Novecento’s got just the collection. Afterward, let an espresso buzz you through Santa Maria Novella’s Gothic Basilica. Next door is Italy’s oldest apothecary and perfumery (1221), where aromatic elixirs steep in decanted bottles, and chemists still concoct colognes from the past.Accommodations in Santa Maria Novella
Florence’s heart beats in Brunelleschi’s dome. A Florentine skyline without this Gothic cathedral? Unthinkable! Did you remember your camera? So did everyone else. Perfect the Italian art of navigating crowds sans that lens to your eye, and take in the dome’s milky greens and pinks in the melting morning light.Accommodations in Duomo
Gucci certainly approves of the high-fashion boutiques that abound in his hometown. Heels and cobblestone? Not a problem for the Florentine female. This block is a who’s who crash course of Italian high fashion–from Armani to Versace and everyone in between. Even the air smells expensive. Window-shop your heart out, honey.Accommodations in Tornabuoni
Hot, hungry, and dreaming of pecorino? Sounds like you made it through the tree-lined streets to the heights of Piazzale Michelangelo. The Duomo looms high above the terracotta rooftops. A few flights up, you’ll find the prettiest church in Florence called San Miniato. Picnic among the ornate tombstones of the church’s cemetery (if you dare).Accommodations in Piazzale Michelangelo
Alice lived in Florence as a student and believes the romantic city offers a timeless appeal.
For breathtaking views of Florence minus the crowds, the 11th Century San Miniato al Monte Abbey is a must visit! Set on a serene hilltop above Piazzale Michelangelo, the basilica features medieval interiors. Lucky visitors may experience the chanting of the Gregorian monks at sunset.Accommodations nearby
A born and bred Tuscan, Elena is an adventurous traveler who always has her suitcase ready to go!
Scattered throughout the city Buchette del Vino ‘wine portholes’ are remnants of where noble Florentines would sell wine in the 16th Century. Often built into a palace’s façade, there are roughly 80 across the city – some decorated and others with original family inscriptions.Accommodations nearby
Having lived in Florence his entire life – 29 years, Andrea is an expert on the Renaissance city!
Hidden behind the city walls between Piazza Tasso and Porta Romana, is a beautiful secret garden. Owned by an ancient Florentine family, Giardino Torrigiani is a lush retreat dotted with grand houses and has an enchanting feel. Tours are available in English and Italian.Accommodations nearby
Intrepid traveler Giorgio believes the best way to experience a destination is to follow the locals!
If you’re looking for killer cocktails and a fun atmosphere in the city centre, then this is your place! I’Margaritaio serves classic cocktails with a twist, like the Calabrian Mojito mixed with licorice and hot pepper. The frozen margaritas are a happy hour crowd favourite.Accommodations nearby
Roisin loves to wander Florence’s maze of ancient streets, in search of hidden treasures.
The Vasari Corridor is a painting-lined passageway, linking the Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace. Once a private corridor for the Medici family, this tucked away gem can only be visited by booking an appointment in advance.Accommodations nearby
Born in Rome and educated in London, Matteo loves socialising with friends over an expensive meal.
The Stibbert Museum is a unique and extensive collection of weaponry and impressive suits of armour. The rare house museum features many rooms that have been individually furnished to invoke different time periods. Afterwards you can wander the enchanting little garden and lake!Accommodations nearby
Australian Elisabetta has lived in Italy for 3 years and appreciates a wide range of cuisines.
If scooping delicious fruit flavoured sorbets out of the actual fruits themselves sounds like heaven to you, then head to Gelateria De’ Medici. Popular with locals and tourists alike, this ultimate desert experience features a variety of gelato flavours including gorgonzola and rice!Accommodations nearby
Originally from the land down under, Aussie Romina is a globetrotting bargain hunter!
Every second Sunday of the month the Piazza Santo Spirito comes to life with a bustling flea market! Delight in the eclectic mix of vintage goods including clothing, furniture and books. It’s a great place to scout for bargains or simply sit back and people-watch.Accommodations nearby
Michelle traveled to Florence to learn Italian but stayed to live inspired by the city’s beauty.
If you’re visiting Florence in summer then the Bellarive pool is the perfect place to escape the heat! Located next to the Arno River, you can enjoy splashing around in the cool waters or relax in the sun. There’s also a children’s pool, spacious shady lawn areas and a restaurant.Accommodations nearby
Nikos loves playing tour guide for his family and friends in Florence, and once had a food fight!
Escape the throngs of tourists and discover your own piece of sweet paradise at Gelateria Il Sorriso. Serving generous portions for reasonable prices, there’s flavours for both the conservative and adventurous. Try the peach yoghurt laced with cinnamon, or the ricotta!Accommodations nearby
South African born, Giulia is a working mum who loves exploring nature parks and hidden gems.
Fall in love with Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi, an ancient church so tiny it’s almost a chapel. Known as the Church of Dante, it was here that Dante was said to have met his beloved Beatrice. Visitors leave notes in a basket next to her shrine, asking for blessings in their love life.Accommodations nearby
Booking.com asked travelers...Why do you recommend Florence for food?
You need to visit the Mercato centrale (first floor) the coolest place to eat and drink in Firenze The food is all cooked fresh with fresh ingredients and you can watch them prepare it, the variety is amazing for local foods pizza's, pasta, fish and meat all on offer at great prices The staff are brilliant and helpful always with a big smile Hundreds of locals use it to eat in so it has to be good it is open all day till midnight great for young and old alike This is a must do if in Firenze.........See all 68 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Which fine art museums should a first-time visitor to Florence start with?
Uffizi gallery, Palazzo Pitti gallery, Accademia gallery. Buy your tickets on the internet in order to avoid the long lines! Or buy the Florence Card! Duomo including climbing the cupola and the bell tower and visiting the beautiful Battistero - all for €10 altogether, in a single ticket. Also: Medici Chapel, Santa Croce church with the famous tombs, and Santa Maria Novella church. And lots more.... And there is beauty everywhere in Florence...See all 159 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...How can you enjoy the sights in Florence while avoiding the crowds?
Several museums offer a reservation service. You can book your ticket up to one day before visiting at additional 4 EUR added to the ticket price. Another alternative is buying Florence city card which entitles you to enter most of the attractions and skip the line. However, the cost is 72 EUR, so if you do not plan to visit many attractions, it is better to use the option with reservation.See all 61 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Tell us what you really thought about the art in Florence?
The art tended to be historic in nature. I was thrown when one of the art galleries had an exhibition of modern art. I thought this meant contemporary art but in fact it was art in the last century! We were fortunate to have left visits to 2 main art galleries on a Sunday when access was free.See all 48 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What is it in Florence that makes history come to life?
To stand before Machiavelli's and Michelangelo's grave monuments in Santa Groce and think on all the years, people have taken care of the place, gives magnificent feeling. There is some hope for mankind, if such individuals have lived, and the monuments are kept and cared for so long.See all 44 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What did you discover about the museums in Florence that wasn't in the guidebooks?
United States of America
We had a personal guide that we hired recommended by our hotel who gave us more insight into the stories behind the scenes which was invaluable.See all 29 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...How can you get the most authentic cultural experience in Florence?
Buy the Firenze card, skip the queues. Go out early. Walk. Go down side streets. Go to places away from the centre to get Florence to yourself.See all 28 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Is there more to shopping in Florence than just brand-name stores?
Most shops are expensive ones however in the market we found great leather things with great pricesSee all 27 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Describe the most beautiful church you visited in Florence.
Santa CroceSee all 24 answers
Florence Peretola is the city’s main airport, just a 15-minute taxi ride from the city centre for a cost of 20 EUR. A cheaper option is the Vola in Bus shuttle, 10 EUR will get you a return trip from the airport to Firenze Santa Maria Novella – the city’s main train station. The service runs every half an hour from 05:30-01:00 and tickets can be purchased on board or at a ticket office. Car hire is also available at the airport.
Firenze Santa Maria Novella (SMN) is the city’s main train station. Services are ideal for day trips around Tuscany but not used for travel within the city. Tickets are available from automatic ticket machines or online, remember to stamp your ticket at the machine on the platform before boarding. Buses and taxis depart from the southern exit of the station (near the chemist's).
Florence is a compact city which is easily explored on foot. The city buses (orange or red-and-white in colour) are best used to discover the outer suburbs or to access Piazzale Michelangelo. Services run from 06:00 to 01:00. Tickets can be purchased from newspaper kiosks and tobacconists for EUR 1.20, or on board for EUR 2. Each ticket is valid for 90 minutes after you stamp it in the machine when boarding the bus.
Taxis in Florence can be expensive and are only necessary when travelling to or from your accommodation with luggage. White in colour, taxis cannot be hailed on the street, but can be called or found at the many taxi ranks across the city. Fares consist of a fixed rate plus extra fees for time and distance, and are slightly more expensive in the evening.
The Tramvia tram system in Florence connects Santa Maria Novella Train Station with the outer suburb of Scandicci in a 25 minute trip. This T1 line has 14 stops, running every 3-12 minutes from 05:00 to 00:00. Tickets can bought on board at 2 EUR for 90 minutes, and be sure to validate it once you enter the tram.
Florence’s city centre is protected from traffic by the ZTL (limited traffic zone), which requires a permit to travel through. These are hard to obtain, and without them hefty fines apply. Parking is pricey and must be outside the ZTL. If you plan to venture out of Florence then solutions would be to rent a car at the airport or hire a driver with a ZTL permit.
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