A Guide to Florence


Travel Guide to Florence, Italy, Climb Duomo
Florence is a place to feast on world-class art and gourmet Tuscan cuisine. With more than one million works of Renaissance art and the birthplace of global fashion icons like Gucci and Roberto Cavalli, this quaint Italian city shouldn’t be missed.
Few cities are so compact in size and filled with extraordinary art and architectural masterpieces at every turn. Stroll around this enchanting city to gain insight into the lovely Italian culture and gaze upon the magnificent beauty of Florence.


TOP ATTRACTIONS IN FLORENCE


Piazza del Duomo

Florence’s Piazza del Duomo is the heart of the city, where with just one glimpse you can instantly admire the main monuments of the historic center.


Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore | Brunelleschi's Dome

Florence's duomo is the city's most iconic landmark. Capped by Filippo Brunelleschi's red-tiled cupola, it's a staggering construction whose breathtaking pink, white and green marble facade dominates the Renaissance cityscape. The Duomo complex forms one of the world's most magnificent works of art. Visiting the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is an experience you won't want to miss.

Purchase your ticket in advance HERE


Note: A Tickets includes entrance to Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi's Dome, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum. After the first entry in a monument, the ticket will be valid for only 72 hours. Each monument may be visited only once with the ticket. Reservations are mandatory for the climb on the Dome.


The Combination ticket for all 5 monuments at the Duomo gives you entrance to the Duomo, but you need to have reserved your place in line earlier to climb the Duomo. Once you book your time slot, it cannot be changed.


Climbing the Duomo

Brunelleschi’s Dome, measuring 147 ft wide, is the largest masonry dome ever built and is the grand centerpiece of Florence. The only way to see the inside of the dome up close and enjoy the extraordinary view of Florence it offers is to climb its 463 steps (there is no elevator): the route takes you by the interior of the dome where you can admire Giorgio Vasari's frescoes of the Last Judgment up close. At the top, you will be rewarded with an extraordinary view of Florence.


Arnolfo Tower

A lesser-known alternative to climbing the Duomo is climbing the Arnolfo Tower – the tower of Palazzo Vecchio! The tower has 233 steps, which is much less than Giotto’s Bell Tower or the Duomo di Firenze.

Pro tip: This is THE tower that will show you the best view of the Duomo! If you want to get the most spectacular view – choose to go around sunset, the Duomo will be bathed in the perfect golden light.


Giotto’s Bell Tower

Giotto's bell tower is the most eloquent example of 14th-century Gothic architecture in Florence. Clad in white, red and green marble like the cathedral adjacent to it, the majestic square bell tower, considered to be the most beautiful campanile in Italywas begun by Giotto in 1334.


Uffizi Gallery

The “Galleria degli Uffizi” is one of the most famous museums in the world given the rich amount of unique artworks and masterpieces conserved within its walls, the majority from the Renaissance period. The main part of the collection was left by the Medici to the state of Tuscany.


The Uffizi Gallery hosts works of art by great Italian artists such as Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raffaello, just to name a few of the most famous. Its large collection has works from all centuries but a large part dates back to the periods between the 12th and 17th centuries. The Uffizi, together with the Vatican Museums in Rome, are the top two most visited museums in Italy by visitors from all across the world.


After viewing the magnificent art, visit the rooftop café to drink your coffee on the outdoor terrace and admire the stunning city views.

TIP: To avoid long lines, purchase tickets in advance HERE to enter at a specific time.


Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio offers Roman ruins, a Medieval fortress, and amazing Renaissance chambers and paintings. There are some places that seem to transcend history. The Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, with its maze of secret passages and rooms, is definitely one of them. Take the Secret Passages Tour and see it all for yourself. Discover the hidden Studiolo and the Tesoretto. Marvel at the Hall of the Five Hundred ceiling. And explore the palace that was the seat of Florentine government and private residence of the Medici family.


Palazzo Medici

The first Medici palace, the home of Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent and the workplace of artists of the caliber of Donatello, Michelangelo, Paolo Uccello, Benozzo Gozzoli and Botticelli. The Renaissance house… where it all began.



Galleria dell’ Accademia

This museum houses one of the Renaissance's most iconic masterpieces, Michelangelo's David. 


The subtle detail – the veins in his arms, the leg muscles, the change in expression as you move around the statue – is impressive. Carved from a single block of marble, Michelangelo's most famous work was his most challenging.

TIP: Get here early to view before the crowds arrive.

***Free Admission on the 1st Sunday of every month.


Cappella Medicee 

The Chapel of Princes was conceived to celebrate the power of the Medici dynasty which had successfully ruled Florence for several centuries. The chapel ceiling is the masterpiece of Pietro Benvenuti and depicts stories of both the Old and New Testament. The concepts of Power and Death, as formulated by the Catholic, are captured here. Six of the Grand Dukes are memorialized in the Chapel of Princes. The 1st floor has a magnificent burial chapel covered in marble floor to ceiling and contains Michelangelo's elaborate sculptures - A Must See!


Piazza della Signoria

The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century with the prominent Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the square. The sculptures in Piazza della Signoria bristle with political connotations, many of which are fiercely contradictory. The David (the original is in the Galleria dell'Accademia) by Michelangelo was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio as a symbol of the Republic's defiance of the tyrannical Medici. Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus to the right of the David was appropriated by the Medici to show their physical power after their return from exile. The Nettuno by Ammannati celebrates the Medici's maritime ambitions and Giambologna's equestrian statue of Duke Cosimo I is an elegant portrait of the man who brought all of Tuscany under Medici military rule. After years of restoration, the original splendor of the fountain has returned and it will be impossible to not admire it from up close walking through the Piazza.


Basilica of Santa Croce

Santa Croce, rebuilt for the Franciscan order in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio, is the burial place for the great and good in Florence. Michelangelo is buried in Santa Croce, as are Rossini, Machiavelli, and the Pisan-born Galileo Galilei, who was tried by the Inquisition and was not allowed a Christian burial until 1737, 95 years after his death. There is also a memorial to Dante.


There is immense artistic wealth in Santa Croce; frescoes (1380) by Gaddi in the Cappella Maggiore tell the story of the holy cross, "Santa Croce", and beautiful frescoes by Giotto in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels show scenes from the life of St. Francis and St. John the Evangelist. An unusual relief, the Annunciation, in gilded limestone by Donatello decorates the south nave wall. Don't miss the memorial to the 19th-century playwright Giovanni Battista Niccolini to the left of the entrance said to be been the inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.


Piazzale Michelangelo

Florence seen from above is a memorable experience. Not just a perfect photo opportunity, but a moment of wonder. You are looking at the city that gave birth to incredible artists, amazing scientists and enthralling history of discovery and power that has filled novels and movie theaters.

No matter what time of day, you will find that Piazzale Michelangelo truly offers a stupendous lookout over Florence.


Basilica of San Miniato al Monte

The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte in Florence is located above Piazzale Michelangelo, in one of the highest points in the city, offering a wonderful view of the historic center. The basilica, built between the 11th and 13th centuries, is a masterpiece of Florentine Romanesque architecture: the white and green marble façade is splendid, boasting a mosaic at the center that depicts Saint Minias, the Virgin Mary and Christ.


The view at the top of this hill is quite similar to Piazzale Michelangelo, only a bit closer and at a slightly different angle. However, this place is definitely off the beaten path and not as crowded at sunset!


Piazza della Libertà in Florence

Piazza della Libertà in Florence is found on the most northern apex of the old city walls. It was constructed in the 19th century when the old walls were demolished and the ring roads were created, where 7 roads and 3 avenues meet. In the center of the square there is the Triumphal Arch of the Lorraine.


In Piazza della Libertà you can still find the Porta San Gallo from 1285 with sculptures and paintings dating back to 1300s. Historical colonnaded buildings in the Neoclassical and Renaissance styles stand around the edge of the piazza.


Bardini Villa and Garden

A green and elegant oasis in the heart of the city of Florence

Villa Bardini, with its wonderful garden, is located in one of the most spectacular points in Florence and is an exhibition center home to the Capucci Museum, Annigoni Museum, and other temporary exhibitions and special events.


The Bardini Garden, which is part of the Boboli museum network, extends for around 4 hectares and includes three different areas that once were part of the Villa: the large, central, Baroque staircase, the English garden to the west and the farming area to the east.


The staircase leads through the terraced garden to the overlook from which visitors can admire all of Florence and, in the spring, the spectacular blossoming of wisteria, not to mention the numerous varieties of iris flowers and the delicate Bengal roses.


Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio, or "Old Bridge," was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. This bridge feels very touristy, with goldsmith and jeweler shops along the walkway.

TIP: Enjoy the view of Ponte Vecchio from afar, on the Ponte Alle Grazie. This lovely bridge is peaceful with few tourists and is the longest in Florence with its 9 arches.



BEST PLACES TO EAT IN FLORENCE


Bar Pasticceria Cucciolo

Every city has its beloved local cafe, one where you can enjoy delicacies of the area. Memories of Florence include this quaint pastry bar, serving the iconic Bomboloni, a fluffy Italian donut with a sugary crust, filled with rich vanilla cream. While in Florence, we popped in this local cafe each morning, like the locals, and I dreamed of what life would be like in Italy. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀



SandwiChic

Handmade cured meats from Italian farms, fresh creams prepared with seasonal vegetables and cheese. SandwiChic highlights the quality of the ingredients and the special attention that they give to combining just the right flavors for a fabulous result. This little sandwich shop proposes select products, ranging from artisan salumi to homemade sauces and creams. Their menu has encompasses many delicious options, but if you are having trouble deciding - then you can have one tailor-made for you!


Alimentari Uffizi

Run by the charming, sweet Alessandro who has carried the torch of this family-run deli, his dad and grandfather both owned Alimentari previously. This deli is great for sandwiches and meat/cheese platters with simple local house wine. Little benches inside ensure a comfy local lunch with organic products from their family farm. The cured meats and high-quality aged and fresh cheeses, plus marinated vegetables are truly an incredible taste!


All'antico Vinaio

A historic wine shop in Florence with superb ratings. Known for "the world's best sandwich" served with local, fresh ingredients. Across the street, there is the “osteria”, for those who prefer a sit-down restaurant with an authentic Tuscan menu


I Due Fratellini

The little sandwich shop “I due fratellini” (the two brothers) has been in service since 1875. Since then, it has maintained the old tradition of preparing sandwiches with top-quality Tuscan products combined with an excellent glass of wine.


La Prosciutteria

Respecting traditions of the past and taste combinations is key to the owners of La Prosciutteria. Just asks your panino maker for ideas of pairing, from finocchiona salami with soft ricotta or simply devour prosciutto on its own, they can recommend the best taste matches. You can buy to take away or grab a seat in this cozy restaurant. There are also food products to take home including pasta, sauces, wines, and olive oil.


Semel

This little place is close to Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, and uses the traditional flavors but with a gourmet twist. If you are curious to taste local exotic meats, sandwiches made with ragu (classic Italian meat sauce), or cacciucco (Livorno style fish soup), all this accompanied by the ever-present glass of red wine, go to Semel.


BEST GELATO IN FLORENCE


Gelateria La Carraia

The gelato here is super creamy and soft. The display is also a feast for the eyes!


Edoardo Il Gelato Biologico

The first certified organic gelato in Tuscany! Using fresh fruit and seasonal flavors, this is a new hotspot for Gelato lovers.


Vivoli

Since 1930 the same family has created and produced homemade gelato with high-quality ingredients. This passion has been handed down to 4 generations. In addition to the historic shop, since 2013 Vivoli has opened two ice cream parlors in the United States, one in New York and the other one in Orlando.


Mordilatte

Mordilatte's philosophy is based on using the best, freshest local ingredients, particularly for the fruit. They explicitly say they make no use of preservatives at all. They also offer milkshakes and smoothies.


Perchè No?

The name means "Why Not?"... and it matches the philosophy of a gelato place perfectly! Why not enjoy some more delicious gelato?? Specialized in homemade gelato since 1939, they make their gelato with all-natural ingredients, with vegan and soy options as well. I've heard the coffee crunch and creamy milk-based gelato sweetened with honey and sesame seeds are quite a special treat!

They have a special taste of the day every day, from pine nuts, rose and English trifle on Mondays to ginger, cheesecake, apple pie, and matcha green tea on other days of the week. You'll want to go back every day to try them out!


*TIP - Metal lids are usually a positive indicator of high-quality gelato, not open-air bins.


Classic Tuscan Dishes


  • Bistecca Alla Fiorentina - Florentine Steak is a T-Bone steak that is served very rare, or "al sangue." True to the Tuscan tradition of simplicity, it is typically enjoyed with just a bit of olive oil and salt to let the natural flavor shine.

  • Trippa & Lampredotto - Trippa and Lampredotto are good examples of the "cucina povera" tradition in Tuscan cuisine. When times are hard there isn’t a Bistecca alla Fiorentina on the table every day, so peasants learned to utilize every part of their livestock. Trippa (or Tripe) is the edible lining of a cow’s stomach, and Lampredotto is a cow’s fourth stomach. Lampredotto in particular is a Florentine street food specialty!

  • Castagnaccio - Castagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan dessert made with Chestnut flour, raisins, and pine nuts, seasoned with a bit of salt, olive oil, rosemary. The ingredients are mixed with water and baked to make a thin, dense cake. It is eaten warm or cold, and is perfectly paired with a sweet Tuscan dessert wine!

  • Schiacciata all’Uva - Schiacciata all’Uva is only available for a few weeks from mid-September to early October, during the grape harvest. Sweet Canaiolo grapes are used to turn Schiacciata, a tasty and savory flatbread, into a sweet doughy specialty.



  • Ribollita - "Ribollita" literally means "reboiled" and was traditionally made by reboiling leftover minestrone. It is a hearty, filling soup made with black cabbage and other seasonal veggies, beans, and stale bread (a good Tuscan chef wastes nothing!) and is usually enjoyed during wintertime.

  • Pappa al Pomodoro - Pappa al Pomodoro is another thick bread-based soup, this time prepared with tomato and basil, among other seasonal vegetables. It is often served as another warm winter time comfort food, but since it can also be served room temperature or chilled, it is a popular choice for buffets and appetizers!

  • Panzanella - Since Tuscan bread goes stale within a few days if not eaten, Panzanella is yet another way to make use of it, this time as a salad! The bread is soaked in water and vinegar, squeezed dry, and mixed with fresh chopped cucumber, onion, tomato, and basil. It’s perfect for summertime since it doesn’t need any cooking and is served refreshingly chilled.

  • Truffles - Not quite "cucina povera," Truffles are a specialty in Tuscany but are much more attainable than they are in other parts of the world. Truffles cannot be cultivated, so they must be hunted for in the woods using a dog or pig to sniff them out. Truffles can be saved and used year-round, but October and November provide the perfect truffle-friendly climate, making them a traditional Autumn ingredient. They are perfect with fresh handmade Pappardelle, and if you’re in Tuscany during the last three weekends in November, don’t miss the White Truffle Festival in San Miniato!

  • Crostini di Fegato - Crostini di Fegato is slices of warm bread with a spread of chicken liver pate. The pate is typically prepared with butter, anchovies, capers, onion, and broth, and the crostini are served as an appetizer or snack.

  • Coccoli Prosciutto & Stracchino - Coccoli, salty fried balls of dough, are quintessential Tuscan comfort food - the name translates to cuddles! Who wouldn’t want to wrap themselves in the warm embrace of fried dough? They are often eaten as an appetizer and served with Prosciutto and Stracchino, a fresh soft cheese.

Dishes provided by Kiss from Italy



ACCOMMODATIONS IN FLORENCE


Apartment in the Heart of Florence

From $78/night

Superhost, entire apartment has an indoor fireplace, 1 king bed, bathroom, kitchen, and lounge area.


Entire Apartment Near Duomo

From $48/night

Superhost, entire apartment has a kitchen, double bed, bathroom, and lounge area.


Central Studio Apt with a View of The Medici Chapels

From $68/night

Superhost, studio has a kitchen, double bed, bathroom, and lounge area.


CLICK HERE TO USE MY AIRBNB LINK TO RECEIVE $40 OFF YOUR FIRST TRIP! IF YOU ALREADY HAVE AN AIRBNB ACCOUNT, YOU CAN SIGN UP WITH A NEW EMAIL AND STILL RECEIVE THE DISCOUNT.



TRANSPORTATION

Florence is a very compact city and all major tourist attractions are walkable. You can walk from one end of this historic city to the other in about 15 minutes or less. Florence's main sights are located near the city center. Take your time to explore this charming destination and you'll discover the true Tuscan culture.


ItaliaRail - Discover Italy By Train

The best way to get around Italy is by train. The Italian rail network connects just about every major city in Italy, runs like clockwork, and often includes spectacular views of the countryside.

Driving in Italy, particularly in Italian cities, can be confusing, chaotic, stressful and, for the uninitiated, even dangerous. Traveling by train is quick, efficient, and inexpensive. Click here to purchase your tickets.


Here’s a list of Italy’s major train stations and they’re abbreviation:

  • Rome Termini (central station) –> ROMA TE

  • Naples Centrale (central station) –> NA C.LE

  • Florence Santa Maria Novella (central station) –> Fl.SMN

  • Venice Santa Lucia (on the island) –> VE. S.L.

  • Venice Mestre (on the mainland) –> MESTRE

  • Milan Centrale (central station) –> MI C.LE

  • Genova Piazza Principe (central station) –> GE P.P.

  • Genova Stazione Brignole –> GE BRIG

  • La Spezia Centrale (central station) –> SPEZIA

  • Pisa Centrale (central station) –> PISA C.



BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT FLORENCE

April

In April, you'll experience temperatures in the 45- to 65-degree Fahrenheit range, making a light coat necessary – although the Italian sunshine still beams brightly. During this time of year, you also have a higher chance of scoring a deal on a hotel. But you also might contend with children on school trips and more rain showers.


May-September 

Florence is alive at this time when the vibrant sunshine, festivals and open-air restaurants lure travelers. But just as temperatures (upper 80s) and tourist crowds rise, so do hotel rates. Book your room several months in advance to secure your place. Note that many Italians go on vacation in August, meaning some shops and restaurants may close for a few weeks at a time. However, most businesses around the center of Florence will likely remain open to appeal to visiting tourists.


Key Events


November-March 

Temperatures between the mid-30s and upper 50s keep tourists at a minimum. But if you're willing to brave the cold conditions – sometimes icy and windy – you'll enjoy fewer lines at major attractions and reduced hotel rates.


Key Events


October 

The fall sweet spot, October, features mild weather with warm days and barely chilly nights – average highs linger in the low 70s. Plus, the city will have emptied a bit after summertime's tourist rush.



DRESS / ATTIRE

Florence is considered an important fashion city in Italy, and once you are done wandering through museums and historic sites (or sampling the city’s famous gelato), make your way through the many cobblestone streets, flitting in and out of some of the city’s most stylish shops.


Italian style is highly envied. Nowhere else in the world do women know how to dress in a way that oozes feminine appeal while still looking effortlessly cool – matching Italian sensuality with silhouettes that are simple, comfortable and even sometimes verging on modesty.


There is an element of glamour to Italian style and the women channel in Florence. The materials are luxurious: think soft merino wool and leather as smooth as butter. The palettes are natural and romantic, drawing on the colors of the beautiful vistas that surround the town. Bring your most stylish clothes for your trip to Italy.


Italian women really know how to pull a slightly extravagant but truly fashionable look, and they achieve that by starting their outfit from one statement piece.That can be either the top with tons of ruffles or some bright colored pants which catch the eye and create visual interest like no other piece of your outfit.


It can also be accessories like huge earrings, shoes or a purse. But the rule is that you should keep just one bold item while others are more neutral and quiet. This way you will not overshadow that one incredible piece you have and achieve real Italian style as well! We tend to buy a nice outfit and save it for some special occasion that might never come! Don’t do that, say all Italian fashionistas – every day is your special occasion and you should celebrate your life by dressing up.


A Gentleman's Guide

There is something incredibly stylish and distinctive about the way Italian men dress. In part, this could be because they are regularly exposed to high-end fashion. Italian men pride themselves on their appearance, and on the attention to detail included in their outfits. One of the most important aspects of dressing like an Italian is to ensure that each piece you wear fits perfectly and is tailored to perfection. Men choose to wear their shirts fitted to their bodies. The key to ensuring your suit fits well is to have the right fit on the shoulders. As for pants, avoid picking a pant leg that is too long: a very common mistake. The hem of your pants should barely touch the top of your shoe. For a more modern and youthful Italian feel, you could even wear your pant hem a little higher, revealing all of your shoe and a generous portion of your ankle. If your pant legs are longer than your actual legs then they will become baggy, breaking the natural line of your outfit and creating a very untidy appearance.


Fit is absolutely essential to nailing Italian style and creating a crisp and sharp look. If you look at the feet of any passing Italian men then you will notice that nine times out of ten they are wearing loafers. Buttery soft loafers in a wide array of colors and shades are an Italian man’s staple and they are almost always worn without socks, and with ankle-grazing slim-fit trousers. Italian men have two things: swagger, and the ability to pull off almost any color! The hot Italian sun means they don’t often choose black tailoring, instead opting for beige and brown suiting, white fitted trousers, and blazers in a wide array of shades from navy, to periwinkle blue, and even lavender.


Many religious sights require modest dress, covering shoulders and knees for both men and women. Be sure to bring at least one church-appropriate outfit with you, and if you think you’ll be visiting basilicas on more than one day, consider throwing a scarf or cardigan in your day bag so that you’re able to transform into a church-ready outfit in an instant.


Comfortable shoes are an absolute must! Walking the cobblestone streets of Florence requires flat comfortable shoes. Leather boots or stylish flats are sleek, yet comfortable.


My top choices for stylish flat shoes are Birdies and Allbirds!

Birdies are classic shoes that offer the style of a designer flat and the luxurious comfort of a slipper. Birdies are perfect for every day and feel like you’re walking on clouds. Your feet will thank you. Use my link HERE to receive $20 off your first order.

Birdies invented a new category of footwear merging luxurious style and ultimate comfort with their exclusive 7-layer cushion technology. Their shoes combine the support of a sneaker, the softness of a slipper and the style of a designer flat. Check out their website HERE.

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