Date of stay: Lived between Sep06-Feb07. Numerous visits since.
I believe Florence really doesn’t need an introduction, or even a review for that matter. Simply put, the word ‘captivating’ comes to mind when the name is mentioned.
The most stunning city in Tuscany, if not all of Italy, Florence has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And all the praise is thoroughly deserved.
This is where the Renaissance all started, and evidence of this is everywhere you look. Simply walking through the city streets is like being in one giant open air museum, with stunning architecture, beautifully carved statues and grand churches on display to all.
If you prefer to be indoors, museums like the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’ Accademia will satisfy your inner artistic side with hundreds of masterpieces painted by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli and countless other masters of the brush. Not to mention the world famous statue of the David.
But you don’t have to be an art aficionado to appreciate what this city has to offer. Florence has a unique feel to it that anyone who visits immediately senses. It is less frantic than many other tourist hotspots in the world, but does have its fair share of tourists in numbers during the peak season. I recommend you go in May or September, when the weather is still hot (and a little more bearable) and the crowds have thinned a little.
In Florence you get a feel for real Italian life. The people, the language, the culture, the food, the music; it’s all so rich and wonderful that you can’t help getting caught up in it all.
I recommend hiring a bike and riding around the city. Even though it’s easy to access most places by foot, a bike will allow you a bit more time to explore and you’ll even be able to venture further out into the Tuscan countryside.
With regards to food, you will not be disappointed here. But as with everywhere in Italy, avoid eating near very touristy places if you can help it. Chances are you won’t taste the best that Italy has to offer. There are 3 places that I can recommend that immediately spring to mind:
- Aqua al 2, click here - well priced and the food is stunning. Try the bruschetta platter for starters
- il Latini, click here - insanely popular. No menus here, just sit down and immediately dozens of plates of food are thrown in front of you along with bottomless carafes of Chianti. Booking is essential
- La Giostra, click here - or those with slightly deeper pockets, this is another wildly popular place, and the food is simply magnificent. You’ll be served by so-called ‘princes’ oozing with character. Don’t miss the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the biggest and juiciest T-bone steak you’ll ever have.
When you finally give yourself a slap and get yourself to Florence once and for all, aside from the obvious things to see, make sure you don’t miss these off your itinerary:
- Churches. Go inside all of them. You will not be disappointed! (e.g. many miss this, but Basilica Sante Croce is home to the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli!)
- Climb the Duomo or the neighbouring Campanile for stunning views over Florence
- Walk/bike to Piazza Michelangelo for another breathtaking view of Florence
- Sit and have a coffee in Piazza Della Signoria and admire this artistic wonderland
- Apertivo! Head to one of the many places along the river in the evening, buy a beer/wine any day of the week and then enjoy a free all you can eat buffet.
- Head south of the Arno and sit on the steps of the basilica in Piazza Santo Spirito for a beer.
If you haven’t been to Florence yet, do yourself a favour and go. It is a city that has captured the hearts and minds of millions who have visited, and never let go.
I left a piece of my heart there all those years ago. Which reminds me, I should go back to pick it up someday.
If you have any comments/questions about Florence, please leave them below.
Points to highlight:
I’m not going to often give cities a 5/5, but this one thoroughly deserves it. And I could just copy all the above and paste it here as pretty much everything should be highlighted. All I can say is, spend at the very least 2-3 days in Florence if time allows, and just let the city sweep you off your feet.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Overall rating: 5/5
By: Luke Falkner