Offering an abundance of sites for visitors, in particular boasting some of the world’s best in fashion and art, Florence is one of Italy’s most versatile cities.
It is the home of Renaissance architecture with remnants of the Medici family who once ruled this city found all over the place. Florence (or Firenze in Italian) was also the capital of Italy when it was a Kingdom many years ago and its long history is why this entire town is a UNESCO world heritage site no doubt.
Piazza della Signoria is pretty much the central point of Florence. This plaza has many sculptures which are worth a close look at, including a copy of Michael Angelo’s famous David. One of the recognisable features in the piazza is the Fountain of Neptune.
Fountain of Neptune
Fun fact, if you jump into the Fountain of Neptune alarm bells may or may not sound as my friend might’ve discovered en route back to our hotel after a night out, which included some karaoke fun at the Red Garter bar.
This cute dog was enjoying a stroll across the Ponte Vecchio
Not too far from our mate Neptune, you’ll find the famed Uffizi Gallery and the iconic Ponte Vecchio.
The Ponte Vecchio bridge joins the two sides of Florence across the River Arno at one of its narrowest points and was used to house lots of butchers, its stores today however are more of the fashion variety, predominately jewellery.
Florence has a great deal of museums to choose from besides the aforementioned Uffizi, there’s even the Museo Gucci for fashion lovers.
A paining from the Accademia
I quite enjoyed my visit to the Accademia, which has a beautiful collection of paintings but is probably best known for this man.
Michael Angelo’s David
The real David lives here and for this reason there is usually a long queue to get in, however you can reserve tickets ahead of time.
My group did this very easily from one of the stands around town that offer this service. I’d ask your hotel or hostel for directions on where to find these – it saved us hours of lining up in the heat!
One of Florence’s other best known sites is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its impressive duomo, or dome.
The sheer detail on the facade is almost incomprehensible and the entire building took almost 150 years from start to finish.
It takes a long time in peak season to wait in line to climb to the top but the views are worth it, the ceiling of the dome itself is beautifully painted also.
View from the top
Be warned though, there is only one small staircase for most of the way up and it is the same one for going down too which means be prepared to get squished in awkward positions as people attempt to go in both directions. Add 35 degree heat and it makes for a fun experience that’s for sure!
For a view of the duomo and Florence itself from a high vantage point, the Piazzale Michelangelo located across the river from the Cathedral is where you want to go.
The ceiling of the duomo
This city also has a reputation for its leather goods and I don’t think I saw a single street without a store selling some. It’s also possible to watch leather making demonstrations at certain places too.
Leather diaries on offer
There was a large vintage store not too far from the duomo that had some decent brands in stock too and for quite reasonable prices.
Just a casual row of Prada shoes at your local op shop in Florence
If you’re like me and prefer good markets over glitzy brand name stores (of which there’s no shortage in Florence) then check out the Mercato Nuovo (New Market).
Street art near the markets
You’ll know you’re near if you spot this guy called the Porcellino, give his nose a rub for good luck too!
Lastly I can’t finish a post in Italy without a mention of food. Florence is the only place you’ll find a sandwich called lampredotto, essentially a roll with tripe (taken from the fourth stomach of a cow) that has been cooked in broth. There are small street vendors around the place selling these.
It is apparently very delicious and although I’ve eaten my fair share of strange things I wasn’t game enough to give that one a go, instead opting for a normal beef sandwich, which was very delicious.
Later that same day I also had the best lasagne I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant so Florence gets a thumbs up in cuisine from me.
Also while gelato is amazing basically anywhere in Italy, there are some darn fine gelaterias in Florence.
There was even one adjoining our hotel lobby – needless to say this was my nightcap and it was a fantastic way to finish each day in this fine city!