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Things to Do – Florence

There are many things to see in Florence. There are some of Italy´s best museums, beautiful cathedrals and churches as well as interesting streets and squares with elegant buildings and shops.

Piazza della Signoria is the top attraction among the most important squares. It is Florence´s primary meeting place for locals as well as tourists. Concerts, fairs and rallies are held here during the whole year. The piazza gets its name from the towering Palazzo Vecchio whose original name is Palazzo della Signoria. The square is decorated by some of the most famous Florentine artists. Almost all of them are copies, the originals have been moved indoors. The most famous of the piazza´s sculptures is a copy of Michelangelo´s David which stands watch outside the Palazzo Vecchio. The other sculpture which is a must to see are two statues by Giambologna, the statue of Grand Duke Cosimo I and Rape of a Sabine, and Cellini´s Perseus and Medusa.

Il Duomo or the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiore is the icon of the city and it is also one of the most recognizable symbols of Renaissance architecture. Inside it could be said, it is a vast space which contains only a few works of art. There are 44 stained glass windows which were designed by some famous Renaissance artists, such as Donatello and Paolo Uccello. For a small fee, you can also see the crypt which contains the archaeological remains of the ancient cathedral of Santa Reparata. A tour of the dome also allows visitors to walk around the outside of the dome with spectacular, panoramic views of Florence and Tuscan hills.

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the top museums in Italy. All of the famous names from Italy´s rich artistic heritage, including Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio and Raphael are represented here. The gallery is in a long narrow building and it houses much of the private collection of the Florentine first family – the Medici. A visit here is one of the greatest pleasures when visiting Florence. Therefor you are advised to reserve tickets in advance, so you avoid long queues or disappointment.

Boboli Garden and Pitti Palace is a huge part on a hillside in the middle of Florence behind the Pitti Palace. You will find beautiful gardens and fountains where you can enjoy a great view of Florence from the Forte Belvedere.

The Campanile or Bell Tower is a part of the Duomo complex. Therefore it is also decorated in white, green, and pink marble. But where the Duomo is expansive, the Campanile is slender and symmetrical. You should know that there are 414 steps to the top of the Campanile and there is no elevator.

Booking Hotels in Florence

It is not a problem to decide where to stay in Florence especially walking through the centre. It is like every house, apartment block or palazzo is masquerading as a hotel or pension. However, finding a good rate can be something different. Mainly if you are checking out the tempting residenze d´epoca, upmarket B&B´s that can cost more than a luxury hotel.

Novecento is an attic apartment, a bit cramped, but the rooms are comfortable. There is a surprise for you, a wonderful rooftop terrace which is so close to Brunelleschi´s Duomo that you feel you could reach out and touch it.

Sani Tourist House is located in the heart of medieval Florence, just by the house where Dante lived where you can get a room at a very reasonable price. The owners do not serve breakfast, but you can get a voucher for the nearby Cantinetta dei Verrazzano, a historic wine bar.

Hotel Universo is a rarity in Florence. It is a bright, modern hotel with much more affordable prices. The concept running throughout the hotel is a vintage 1970´s sty, from the wallpaper to the furniture.

Hotel Relais II Cestello was a typical B&B which was changed into three – star hotel while prices remain reasonable. There is an ancient stone fireplace and wooden-beamed ceiling in the lobby which was doubled and now used as the breakfast salon.

Hotel Scoti is a maintained old-fashioned family-run pension. The prices have gone up recently, but it is worth to stay here, just to be able to use the charming communal sitting room decorate with quite incredible 17-th century frescoes.

Ciao hostel which used to be called Harmony Hostel is located in the centre of Florence. As the city centre is relatively small, it is possible to just walk everywhere. It is a great choice for backpackers, students and families. The hostel is a good, clean and cheap place for everyone who is not looking for a luxury accommodation.

Having Dinner in Florence

There are many inexpensive places where you can eat, if you know where to look. If you want to avoid paying a lot, you should know that many places charge a higher charge for outdoor table service. Therefore locals eat inside, often at a place which is a kind of a cross between a restaurant and a bar or sandwich shop.
Trattoria Dante is the best place if you are looking for an enjoyable and tasty meal. It is always crowded, therefore be sure you book a table in advance. The striped macaroni and gnocchi are the two best personal favourites and take tiramisu as a dessert.
ZaZa is an American-friendly pizzeria which has a perfect outdoor patio for those warm Florence nights. The menu here has a wide selection of entrees.
Trattoria 13 Gobbi is a smaller restaurant which offers you an intimate and cosy setting to enjoy a meal especially if you are looking for true Florentine steak.
Acqua al Due is a place which understands the hardest part about eating out in Florence which is deciding what to order. You read the menu and you slowly begin to feel the pressure of choosing just one dish as the waiter comes to take your order. They offer you the ultimate solution – the assagio which is a taste of heaven. It is a series of small mouth-watering dishes of which the menu is changed from night to night. It is available for each course.
Florence is well-known for its gelato. The best one is Gelateria Santa Trinita which you can find in Piazza Frescobaldi. It serves all the classics but it is their original flavours that will completely change your life. Those ones which is a must to try: buontalenti al mascarpone.

Explore Florence

Florence is one of the most beautiful historical towns in the world. It is filled with museums, palaces and churches. Florence is a treasure trove with so many things to see that a few days will not be enough. The town is well serviced by the railway network as many main European cities are directly connected to Florence via Eurocity and Euronight trains. There is also an airport which is small but well connected to the main historical centre of Florence which can be reached by taxi with a 15 minutes ride.
Florence is a perfect place for tourists as it offers such a variety of touristic experiences. When visiting this town, you will be influenced by a series of variables like time, personal taste and budget. You can enjoy classic tours that include the most touristic itineraries and the most visited attractions. Your other choice is non-conventional tours that will bring you to the hidden spots of Florence, places that only few people know about.
The best time to visit Florence is spring. At this time, it is relatively warm, but it is not as hot as usually in the summer. Moreover, you can more enjoy the town as it is less busy than during the rest of the warmer months. Summer is very hot and quite humid. Do not forget to bring a hat and visit regularly the stores or cafes to drink plenty of water when you get hot while doing your sightseeing. Summer is also the busiest season, so expect crowds, long queues, higher hotel rates and a lot of tourists. In case you want to visit Florence in summer, choose August as the locals go to the sea, so much of the city is empty. However, have in mind that some restaurants and shops will close for the month. Autumn is the best time for food and wine. There is nothing better than a glass of Chianti to warm you up at night. If you like holidays in winter, Florence offers you a fair amount of rain, but it is not so much cold.