Florence is one of my absolute favourite cities, not just in Italy, but the WORLD. It has a laid back charm that even the harden planning freak can’t help but find infectious. Be prepared to walk a little slower, sleep in a little later, and spend many an evening soaking up the atmosphere… and the local wine!
Florence may be small but it is PACKED with things to do. In fact I found it pretty hard to narrow it down to just five, however here they are, my five must do’s in Florence, Italy.
Walk to Piazzale Michelangelo
You were expecting me to mention the Duomo here, weren’t you? Go on admit it! As amazing as the Duomo is Piazzale Michelangelo tops my list. I think the view speaks for itself as to why.
Situated on the south of the river, Piazzale Michelangelo is located on the top of a hill, one that feels pretty massive in the summer heat. It’s all paved and very easy once to get going, but there is also a bus running if you’re not feeling particularly brave or if mobility is an issue.
As the top, apart from the views, you’ll find a few cafes and sometimes a small market. Visit in the late afternoon and you may be lucky enough to watch the sunset.
Visit the Duomo
You can’t possibly visit Florence and not visit the Duomo, it’s simply stunning. Be sure to go early if you can as queues do get large during the day. Be sure not to miss the steps down under the main church to see the archeological excavation down below.
Be sure to head up Campanile di Giotto to truly appreciate the Duomo. The stairs are not for the faint hearted though, there’s a very good reason why there is a first aid centre at the top! I didn’t take any photos of myself at the top as I resembled a huge rasberry, I don’t think I’ll be attempting it again myself, but it was certainly an experience!
Visit the Uffizi Gallery
My favourite Gallery in Florence. Even if you don’t like art you can still appreciate the building and the setting.
For art lovers, it’s a paradise. With artworks by Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and my favourite, Botticelli, you’ll be completely spoilt for choice on where to look next.
My big tip here, and it applies to Florence in general, is to get the Firenze Card, it’s not cheap (€72 for 72 hours) but if you plan on doing lots of sightseeing over a few days it more than pays for itself. The front of line pass you get for the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia to view David saved us HOURS of queuing.
As an example, here’s the queue for the Accademia 30 minutes before it opened..
yeah, you’ll want to skip that! Still get there early though, the “fast” queue was still pretty eyewatering at midday.
Try a traditional Florentine meal
Florence is famous for it’s “Bistecca alla fiorentina” a large T Bone steak often served rare. We enjoyed ours at Ristorante Pizzeria Il Teatro, where we enjoyed a two course traditional meal and a bottle of wine for €30.
The steak was obviously the stand out dish, but the garlic potatoes and tuscan beans served alongside it were delicious as well, as was the wine it came with… we ordered another bottle!
Grab a bite to eat at the Mercato Centrale
The Mercato is exactly that, a market. Spend some time exploring the stalls, it feels a little touristy so don’t expect many bargains here, although there are some great stalls for meat and cheese if you wish to try some.
The surprise is upstairs where the area has been converted into a series of bars and food stands offering a variety of dishes.
Much of the renovation was government funded and there’s even a cookery school here that on certain days you can book a table to be the student’s practise guests.
There are of course many, MANY, more places to visit, including some amazing churches but these 5 are my not to be missed recommendations. What do you think, what would have made your top 5?