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Florence, Italy

  • Photo of Florence, Italy
  • Photo of Florence, Italy
  • Photo of Florence, Italy
  • Photo of Florence, Italy
  • Photo of Florence, Italy
Photo of Florence, Italy
Photo by flickr user Spigoo

Florence is the mother of the Italian Renaissance and its cathedral, the Santa Maria del Fiore, embodies both the period and the power and wealth of the city. Stroll along the Arno River through the old city and admire the architecture of the buildings along the way, eventually reaching the medieval Ponte Vecchio, its host of shops lining the edges with jewellers, art dealers and souvenir shops, but also offering a pleasant view down the river. Stop in at the cathedral and stare into the dome at the renaissance art, illuminated by lights, and then climb to the top for a view of all of Florence.

Head straight into the heart of the city and meander around the historic centre, where Bartolomeo Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune can be found in Piazza della Signoria, resting for a while in one of the cafés. Sitting at a table outside the café a waitress will bring a steaming espresso and biscotti, while the pigeons flock around the square, in search of crumbs. Later, pop into the Uffizi Gallery, which hosts a daunting collection of art, and after hours of perusing its contents, wander home through squares and alleys, often strung with twinkling lights and scattered with children avoiding bed time and young couples out for a romantic evening.

Top Florence attractions

We know a total of 53 attractions in Florence. See all Florence attractions.

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Other expert and press reviews

“Florence”

The cultural and historical impact of Florence (or Firenze) is overwhelming. Close up, however, the city is one of Italy's most atmospheric and pleasant, retaining a strong resemblance to the small late-medieval centre that contributed so much to the art… Read more...

Written by press. Lonely Planet

“Florence”

By Frank Partridge for the Independent. First Published 9 August 2008 Europe's capital of Renaissance art is a great weekend break destination in late summer – and the fine Italian food on offer will fuel your quest for cultural nourishment...Expl… Read more...

Written by press. See the full article in The Guardian, 9 August 2008

“Florence, Then and Now”

By Adam Begley for The New York Times. First published 30th November 2008.... Enjoying Florence — a hard, forbidding city (“a city of endurance,” Mary McCarthy called it, “a city of stone”), handsome but not pretty, a chall… Read more...

Written by press. See the full article in The New York Times, 30th November 2008

“Florence, Italy: the fine art of vintage shopping ”

By Tim Jepson for The Telegraph First Published June 13, 2009 Florence is a superb shopping centre: better than Rome and with all the big fashion names of Milan but in a more manageable grid of Renaissance streets. One of the city's best retail p… Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on telegraph.co.uk

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Tourist Friendly Firenze

Out of all of the amazing cities of Italy, Florence is the one I will never tire of visiting. It comprises all of the reasons people visit Italy into one compact city; art, architecture, scenery, shopping and cuisine. I consider Florence to be sort of the "one stop shop" of Italy. This is not to say that you should not visit the rest of the country, but for those who only have time for one then Florence should be it.

1 Reply

Hey Jessica - thanks for your comment, and I entirely agree! I lived there for nine months and had an incredible time.

Florence

No travel guide to Florence fails to wax lyrical over this holiday destination - a spectacular example of a well preserved medieval Italian town, where modern urban planning has succeeded in preserving the spirit and historical fabric of the downtown area. Cars and buses are largely banned from the centre - to the frustration of grumbling (and crumbling) tourists who disgorge from tour buses several hundred metres from where they want to be. Like Venice - this is the main challenge for the city - how to accommodate the huge numbers of people who visit the city from all over the world. But despite the crowds - and the heat in the summer, when the tall stone buildings and narrow streets trap the scorching heat and thicken the air - the medieval streets and alleys are well worth exploring. Most tourists stick to a well worn axis - Santa Croce to the Piazza Signoria to the Ponte Vecchio, with a detour to the Duomo and Michealangelo's David in the Accademia. You can see them coming - 50 or more led by a flag waving guide, hurriedly taking pictures before fleeing to the air conditioned comfort of the leather 'factories'.

So armed with a map, it is fairly easy to avoid them, except where you need to interesect at the main monuments. For eating, get away from this axis and find the places the Florentines eat. And at night, stay as centrally as you can, as most of the bus tours stay out of town, and the streets take on an altogether different air after dark. South of the Arno, too, around the Pitti Palace and the Piazza Santo Spirito, is much less touristed.

UNIQUE experience for seasoned travelers in Florence, Italy

I have been working in the tourism business all over Italy since 2003. I am hard to please and have pretty much seen and done all there is to see and do in this country. I came across something unique and fun that I highly recommend to other seasoned travelers- taking a tour as a driver in a restored vintage Fiat 500. I took this tour to see for myself: gorgeous views, nice route, beautiful villa with pleasant wine tasting experience- I realized while driving that my face hurt from so much smiling. Try it and see. Have a good time.

The best gelateria in Florence

Gelateria Badiani (20 Viale dei Mille, tel: 055 578 682). As hotly debated among Florentines as where to get the best artichokes in season or which is the best pizzeria is the eternal debate about the best gelateria in town. Ice cream – like so many comestibles in Italy – has been raised to an art form, and just good is not good enough. Those who really know head out of the city centre to Gelateria Badiani, famous for its Buontalenti flavour – named for the Renaissance architect Bernardo Buontalenti and unique to Badiani. The mass of Florentines crowding the pavement on a hot summer night bears testament to the Badiani’s superiority.

Adventurous fun way to see Florence in a vintage fiat 500

I had a wonderful time going on a tour of Florence in a Vintage Fiat 500! If you are looking for a different way to see the city, I would definitely recommend this. The guide was very knowledgeable and pointed out many interesting things about the sights that I would not have read in the guidebooks. We also stopped at some amazing viewpoints. (Piazzale Michelangelo is fantastic!) Doing the tour in the Vintage Fiat also made us somewhat of a tourist attraction ourselves. The Italian locals and tourists alike really enjoyed the cars. I went in the car with the guide, but if you are the adventurous type, you can follow the guide in your own car.

Historic Centre of Florence

Built on the site of an Etruscan settlement, Florence, the symbol of the Renaissance, rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the Medici in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity can be seen above all in the 13th-century cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore), the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace, the work of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Copyright © UNESCO/World Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

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