Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and an art (and wine) lover’s dream destination. Located in the Tuscany region, this is exactly where you want to be to indulge the senses. With so much available, here are our top 10 ‘must-do’ experiences:
1. Visit Ponte Vecchio
This remarkable bridge over the Arno River is laden with jewellery shops and while up close it might not seem so spectacular, viewing it from a distance, you’ll see why it’s one of the most photographed icons. The best photos are from Ponte Santa Trinita.
2. Visit Piazzale Michelangelo
Enjoy the very best panoramic city view from this spot in Oltrano just in the historic district. The square, dedicated to artist Michelangelo showcases bronze sculptures of many of his famous pieces found in the museums of Florence, including the famous ‘David’.
3. See Michelangelo's David
Visit the Accademia Gallery, located near Piazza San Marco for the authentic sculpture of ‘David’, you’ll find a few replicas throughout the city including the most photographed on Piazza della Signoria, and at Piazzale Michelangelo, but this one is the real deal.
4. Eat, Eat, Eat
Visit the San Lorenzo Market or the Mercato Centrale and eat, eat, eat (then have some gelato). You’ll find a huge assortment of regional produce and street food vendors serving up more than you can imagine possible. Mercato Centrale’s upstairs food court is foodie heaven.
5. Tuscan wine tasting
Whether you’ve organised a formal day tour, a walking wine tour visiting some of the city’s more popular enotecas, or creating your own wine itinerary, Florence is full of boutique wine bars. Many of them have wine cellars with bottles by the hundreds.
6. Go to the Duomo
Considered the heart of the city, The Duomo, bell tower and Baptistry are all here. These impressive architectural masterpieces are pretty fascinating even if you aren’t religious. Don’t miss the bronze door of the Baptistry or ‘Gates of Paradise’. Entry to the Cathedral is free.
7. Wake up early
Wake up bright and early well before the tourists do. You’ll likely be awake with jet lag anyway. Put on your walking shoes and stroll the city with your camera. You’ll get your best photos of the city when it's quiet, still and empty.
8. See the masterpieces
Enjoy the Renaissance classics at the Uffizi Gallery where you’ll find so much artwork you’ll need a full day to get through it all, so plan accordingly or strategically. More popular pieces include Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ and da Vinci’s ‘Annunciation’.
9. Take a cooking class
You’ll find plenty of different classes to choose from, some include full day tours to farmhouses and produce markets others are local inside the Mercato Centrale. Either way, you can learn how to make the signature Florentine steak, pizza, gelato, classic pastas and more.
10. Wander and shop in Oltrarno
The quieter side of Florence on the other side of the river is the historic centre and a quaint local neighbourhood full of shopping, galleries and cafes. Visit Boboli Gardens; an 11 acre park and botanic garden that’s full of outdoor sculptures and a grotto.