Today marks a milestone as after 10 days in quarantine I finally am allowed outside today. This is not because I am sick but is a rule of the British government that I had to self isolate after visiting the US. Now that this is over there are not many places I can go as the UK is in lockdown so while I try and get out for a walk today (one of the only things that is allowed) let’s take a walk down memory lane and visit Florence. As I mentioned in my live from Italy post this was my third time to this gorgeous city but it constantly surprises, which also makes sense as I have not been here in nearly ten years.
More than any other place we visited on our Italian roadtrip Florence is a cultural hub and really the epicenter of Renaissance art. We only had four days this time and even with a day trip to Tuscany we managed to see many of the hotspots including he Uffizi Gallery, the Palazzo Pitti, and the Ponte Vechio. If you only have a few days like we did here are my recommendations for the top 12 things to do, see, and eat in Florence:
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1) Duomo – It would be hard to do any write up of Florence without talking about the Florence Cathedral, which used to be known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Not only is this church an arcitecture marvel (which is being resorted as you can see in the photos below) but it dates back to the late 12th century and the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi is famous around the world.
2) Ponte Vecchio Bridge – In any other city it would be a bit odd to have a bridge as number two but this medieval stone arch is far from ordinary. It is unusual because while it connects the two sides of Florence across the Arno River both sides are lined with two-story shops. In the Middle Ages you would have found butchers, tanners, and local produce but today it is more likely you will find souvenirs and jewelry.
3) The Uffizi Gallery – The Uffizi is one of the most visited art museums in the world and given my past trips I was insistent on pre=booking tickets for the minute it opened. It turns out with COVID there were only a fraction of the usual visitors which meant Mark and I had many of the rooms to ourselves to take in the art in the historic building. There are dozens of famous works here such as ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Botticelli and ‘Laocoön and his Sons’ by Baccio Bandinelli and below you can see works by Cimabue and Giotto and Raphael.
4) The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, – Sharing two museums in a row? You better believe it. I hate to say this but this one, the Gallery of the Academy of Florence, has only one piece of note – Michelangelo’s sculpture David. On this visit to the museum I took a look at some of the sculptures in the museum but this nearly 20-foot Renaissance sculpture is really the thing to write home about.
5) Piazza Michelangelo – Florence is a beautfiul city but sometimes when you are standing immediately infront of a huge building even when you strain your neck and look up, it can be hard to take in the scale. The Piazzale Michelangelo helps save this for you as it provides a stunning panoramic view of Florence from the Oltrarno district.
8) Good Eats – There is a reason Italian food is one of the most famous in the world, it is oh so tasty! We had great pizza, pasta, wine, and more – there is something for absolutely everyone in Florence, even if you are gluten free like Mark. One of our favorite meals was Ciro and Sons, a phenomenal pizza restaurant in Florence, and Angel Roofbar was a great spot for cocktails with a view.
9) Climb the Tower – oOu saw the Florence Duomo in point number one, but only from the ground! It was a bit of a fluke that we got these tickets but after assenting 414 stairs across four platforms we were granted the most beautiful views of the cathedral dome and the city of Florence. Well worth the climb!
10) Tuscany Day Trip You will be able to get great wine around Florence but nothing is really the same as going to a vineyard, seeing the process of the grape growing and drinking them where they are bottled. In less than 30 minutes you can easily escape Florence and be in the lush and gorgeous countryside and well on your way to a wonderful day of vino. Make sure you check out my Tuscany wine tasting post if you have not done so already!
12) Free Walking Tour – In nearly every city I visit I google to see if there is a free walking tour. I find it such a nice way to orient myself in a new space while learning fun facts from a local. We had a great time on our first afternoon doing this free walking tour where at the end you tip the guide in cash based on your perceived value of the tour.
`That was a lot of words and a lot of pictures, yes, but I wanted to give you a true run down of my picks for the best of Florence and a descriptive guide if you are thinking of visiting once international travel restrictions allow! If you have questions on anything else drop them in the comments!