Cultural break or romantic escape, Florence is always lovely!
I love Florence! It’s such a wonderful, elegant city, and the food, just like the art, is absolutely fabulous. Located midway between Milan and Rome, the cultured Tuscan capital is adorned with artworks by the world’s greatest artists, think Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello or Botticelli, making it a fabulous destination for a cultural break or a romantic escape filled with decadent food and wine, and long walks along historic streets lined with Renaissance palazzi.
Do some people-watching and soak up the classy atmosphere
Piazza della Signoria
Sometimes the best way to experience a city is to just follow the locals: wander along its streets, go to a local market or linger over a coffee while watching the world go by. Luckily, Florence is one of the world’s most pedestrian-friendly cities, with many charming piazzas, picturesque cobblestone streets, century-old bridges, and famous monuments concentrated in the delightful UNESCO-preserved historic center. Perhaps the best spot to observe how life in Florence unfolds is the emblematic, sculpture-lined Piazza della Signoria, in the shadow of Palazzo Vecchio. This is an open-air museum in its own right, as well as the city’s beating heart, where tourists and locals mix in historic cafes or indulge in dreamy handmade gelato.
Panorama from Piazzale Michelangelo
The touristy, yet beautiful Piazza del Duomo nearby is also worth a stroll, and so does the sprawling Piazza della Repubblica, with its eclectic street artists and stylish cafes. Otherwise, head to the hilltop Piazzale Michelangelo for the most breathtaking Florence panorama, or take an evening passeggiata along Ponte Vecchio, the city’s famous landmark, to browse upscale jewelry shops and see the sun setting over the Arno River in a burst of purples and pinks.
Sleep in style
From funky B&Bs and arty designer boutiques to upmarket residenze d’epoca and sumptuous Renaissance villas, Florence’s atmospheric hotels offer accommodation suitable for every budget and style. For a purely luxurious Italian experience, head to the lush hills of Fiesole, where both Il Salviatino as well as the gorgeous Belmond Villa San Michele combine the grandeur of a bygone era with posh amenities and mesmerizing views of Florence and the rolling Tuscan countryside.
If you are looking for a more authentic taste of Florence, the laid-back Oltrarno neighborhood is home to some delightful boutique establishments and stylish guesthouses, some with romantic views across River Arno and Ponte Vecchio. SoprArno Suites and AdAstra are excellent options here, especially if you like your room dressed in a mix of contemporary Italian style and exquisite antiques.
Entrance of Hotel Savoy
Those who want to be in the heart of it all, should stay in the area around the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, home to five-star Hotel Savoy and the impeccably designed Portrait Firenze, famed for its postcard-perfect Ponte Vecchio vistas.
Treat yourself to some of the world’s finest art and culture
Don’t leave Florence without visiting the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, with its 45 rooms brimming with Renaissance masterpieces; or the famous 1 km-long Vasari Corridor which connects the gallery and Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace, offering breathtaking views over the city. Located in the central Piazza della Signoria, Galleria degli Uffizi is home to some of the world’s finest paintings, signed by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, Caravaggio, or Rembrandt.
Another top cultural attraction in Florence is Galleria dell’Accademia, Europe’s first school of drawing and home to what is probably the most famous sculpture on the planet, Michelangelo’s David. Although the Uffizi and the Accademia are by far the most popular museums in Florence, a culture enthusiast in the capital of Tuscany cannot go home without visiting the monumental Pitti Palace, with its splendid Boboli Gardens and stunning collections that span everything from modern Tuscan art to fashion.
Basilica of Santa Croce
As you would have thought, the city’s gorgeous churches are also filled with treasures. Go to the Basilica of Santa Croce for some stupendous frescoes by Gaddi and Giotto; step inside the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella to see Masaccio’s Trinity and Giotto’s Crucifix; and stare at Filippo Brunelleschi’s magnificent red-tiled cupola at the Duomo.
Eat like a Florentine
Bistecca alla Fiorentina by Trattoria Sostanza
Italian food is utterly delicious, but what’s really amazing about this country is their love and laid-back attitude regarding the art of cooking and eating. Whether you dine in a top-class restaurant or opt for a traditional trattoria, Italy, and Tuscany in particular, won’t disappoint. This is also the case of Florence, where a bistecca alla fiorentina in a gourmet eatery is as fabulous as a leftover-stuffed panzanella or any other staple of cucina povera in a family-run osteria. Unsurprisingly, one of the best and most beloved restaurants in town is Trattoria Sostanza, a locals’ favorite near Santa Maria Novella square, which serves rustic home style food in a friendly, unpretentious ambiance. The grand dame of Florence’s fine dining scene is, no doubt, the three Michelin star Enoteca Pinchiorri, where memorable creations by chef Annie Féolde are served amidst artworks and frescoes in a Renaissance inspired dining room, and the wine list is one of the most impressive in the world. If you’re more into sandwiches and paninis, however, you’ll find the most delicious at Mercato Centrale.
Browse elite fashion houses and charming artisan studios
Via de’ Tornabuoni
Florence may be the cradle of the Renaissance, but it’s also the birthplace of Gucci, Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli. Accordingly, whether you’re looking for haute couture, vintage bargains, leather goods, authentic Florentine items, or anything in between, the city’s shopping opportunities are endless. Keen fashionista flock to the chic, palazzo-lined Via de’ Tornabuoni to peruse its illustrious fashion houses and lunch in ritzy eateries, while lovers of Florentine craftsmanship spend hours exploring Oltrarno’s charming artisans’ workshops. Piazza Strozzi, Via de Cerretani, and Via del Corso are also home to a plethora of stylish boutiques, and the elegant Via Roma and Via Calimala are lined with chic affordable shops. Florence is no less famous for its fabulous antiques (Via Maggio), high-quality leather goods (New Market and Santa Croce Leather Workshop), and lovely open-air markets dotted all over the city.