Travellers Guide To Florence By Alyssa From mychampagnetastelife.com
A quick visit to Florence
Florence has got to be one of my favourite places in the whole world. There is nothing quite as magical as your first trip here. Having visited Italy only once before, I was desperate to see what all the fuss was about. Needless to say, that once you’ve been, a piece of your heart will remain in Florence forever.
The exquisite well preserved architecture makes you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. There are countless attractions to visit, whilst of course eating and shopping your way around one of Italy’s most breathtaking cities. I would suggest you allow at least 3 nights in Florence to fully experience it’s unique charm.
Central Florence is a relatively small area which you can perfectly explore on foot, so no need to worry about transport. The best way to reach Florence is by train, arriving at the main station Santa Maria Novella via one of Italy’s other cities, e.g.. Milan or Rome. From here you are virtually in the heart of central old town Florence.
Things to do
There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Florence, most of which can be discovered by simply wandering the charming streets and stumbling across some hidden gems. However, if you’re pressed for time, here are some of my suggestions for things to do:
Florence Duomo- Standing tall right in the centre of the old town, you will not be able to miss this stunning cathedral, characterised by it’s large dome, designed by Brunelleschi and finished in the 15th century. It is surely one of the most stunning cathedrals in Europe and the best part is, it’s free to enter. Don’t miss it!
Ponte Vecchio- Stretching across the river Arno, this famous bridge has been around since the 13th century, but was rebuilt in the 14th century following flooding. Lined with quaint jewellery shops, your stay in Florence would simply not be complete without a walk across this iconic bridge.
Uffizi Gallery- One of the most famous art galleries in the world and well worth a visit, even if you’re not particularly enamoured by art. Here you will find works of numerous artists such as Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Miraculously, when we visited there was no queue at all and it was very quiet, but in general it can get very crowded, so it is best to pre-book your tickets to reduce wait time!
Palazzo Medici Riccardi- This Renaissance palace and former residence of the Medici family is worth a visit. It hosts a lovely courtyard and garden, as well as the famous Chapel of the Magi. There is also a museum and regular art exhibitions included in the entrance fee.
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana- a beautiful old library built alongside the Church of San Lorenzo and designed by Michelangelo. It houses a large collection of early printed books and manuscripts. I enjoyed this beautiful little sanctuary in the heart of the city very much, however the library is only open to the public during special events.
Piazza Della Signoria- This is one of the most recognisable sq
uares in Florence and is towered over by the Palazzo Vecchio. Here you will find many sculptures including a replica of Michelangelo’s David, with the original being displayed at Galleria dell’Accademia. Stop here for some magnificent photos and don’t forget to grab a gelato!
Where to eat
You will not struggle to find amazing food in Florence, as the streets are lined with cafes and restaurants. My only tip would be, try to avoid the cafes in the main squares, as these are very touristy and don’t offer an authentic experience. Here are some of my top suggestions:
Budget: Pizzeria Toto: Via Dante Alighieri, 28r, Firenze
The perfect place to grab an authentic slice of Pizza in between sightseeing. This hole-in-the-wall pizza shop is located not far from the main shopping street (via calzaiuoli). Here you can get an incredibly cheap lunch, without sacrificing on taste. This is seriously some of the best Pizza I had in Italy!
Moderate: Yellow bar, Via del Proconsolo, 39r, Firenze, Italy
For a nice evening meal with a moderate price tag, you can’t go past Yellow bar. They make all of their pasta fresh on site and even have a viewing room into the kitchen.
Pricey: Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina, Piazza Pitti, 16, Firenze
Enjoy a leisurely lunch at this wonderful Enoteca which overlooks Palazzo Pitti. The wine selection is out of this world!
And the list wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of Florence’s best gelato! You’ll find gelato shops on virtually every street, but for some of the city’s best gelato head to:
Gelateria dei Neri,Via dei Neri 9/10r
Hotel Calzaiuoli, Via dei Calzaiuoli, 6, 50122 Firenze, Italy
I cannot recommend this hotel enough. Although right on the main shopping strip, it is surprisingly quiet at night (do ask for a room facing away from the street). The location of this hotel is perfect for sightseeing and shopping, as you’re right in the heart of the action, but also close enough to access the train station. The staff and service are excellent, with spacious well appointed rooms and a great breakfast. If you’re lucky, you might even get a view of the Duomo!
From luxury designer gear to authentic leather goods and souvenirs, Florence has no shortage of places to shop. The main shopping street runs down Via Calzaiuoli, with many other streets winding off of that. For cheap leather goods head to Mercato del Porcellino, a 16th century covered market in Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, or you could try heading to Florence’s largest indoor/outdoor market at San Lorenzo.
If you have yet to visit this beautiful and unique Italian city, I strongly recommend adding it to your next European itinerary!
By Alyssa From mychampagnetastelife.com