No matter where you are in Florence, you feel as if you're walking through a romantic Italian novel. The wide cobblestone streets and boulevards leading up to the important monuments, to the perch on Piazzale Michelangelo where you can have an epic view of the city. This Florence quick guide will highlight the best of what to see and do in this famous Italian city and ensure you make the most of your time.
Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and so it's history is centered on art. Make sure to leave time for a museum or two. I also best enjoy this city in the early morning or towards sunset by taking a stroll. Unlike Rome, this city is very walk-able, so it's easy to see it all in a few days. You're in Tuscany, so don't forget to check out the countryside or take a wine tour.
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Can't Miss Florence:
I suggest that you get a Firenze card to skip the lines and ensure you can see everything. Below I list off the top sights in Florence, in order of importance. Here are my recommendations:
Duomo – One of the most intricate and ornate cathedrals in the world. No matter where you look, the Duomo is stunning. Leave time to climb up the Cupola or Giotto's Campanile, the free standing bell tower next to the Duomo. Make sure to tour the separate Baptistry. Make sure to go to the Duomo museum to learn more about the history and artwork of the cathedral. Note: the Duomo's Dome is 462 steps, the Bell tower is about 400.
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Uffizi Gallery – The best collection of Italian paintings on earth! The museum is located in the heart of the city and is right next to the lovely Piazza della Signoria.
Academia – This is where you'll see Michaelangelo's David!
Ponte Vecchio – This often crowded bridge connects over the Arno River and is lined with jewelry shops. The first mention of the bridge dates back to 996. During WWII the bridge was not destroyed by retreating Germans unlike the rest of the bridges in Florence. At night, you can see the city light up and catch an impromptu concert.
Palazzo Vecchio – This striking and tall building is the town hall of Florence. Make sure to take a look at the copy of David outside.
Mercato Centrale & Market – This is one of my favorite places to go to get a good bite to eat. You can find all different Tuscan and Italian cuisines at the market. Then, you can stroll the leather market after. Leather has been sold here for 1,000s of years and this is where nearly all my purses come from! Don't forget to bargain.
Michaelangelo Piazza – The best place for a view of Florence, perfect for sunset.
Galileo Museum – If you have time, check out this incredible and interactive museum in Florence. It's filled with some of the most important scientific instruments and gives more of a history of Galileo.
Pitti Palace – Though not particularly beautiful, this palace holds a lot of history. The Medici family bought it in 1549 and this became their chief residence. During their reign, they collected many works of art, jewelry, and luxurious items.
What to eat:
“Lampredotto” sandwich – found at food stands. This is a Tuscan delicacy and can be found at Mercato Centrale.
Florentine steak – you simply must have this hearty meal while in Florence.
Panini Toscani – This is one of the best places to get a delicious panini.
Trattoria al Trebbio – A relaxed, and casual atmosphere yet somehow upscale. One of the best truffle pasta dishes I've ever had. Also try their steak.
L'Angolo Del Mare – a bit out of the way, but worth it for the delicious seafood.
Gelateria La Carria – best gelato in the city (and price is good too!). Often, you will overpay for gelato in Florence, try to find something under 2 euros a scoop.
Riviore – Breakfast or coffee in the square of the idyllic Palazzo Vecchio.
Shake It Up – If you want a real, hearty breakfast this is a great spot.