Famous for its art, architecture and museums, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Florence is a must-visit when you’re in Italy. And throughout 2019, this historic city is hosting numerous events and exhibitions to commemorate 500 years since Da Vinci’s death. It’s an easy 2-hour drive from our hotels in Tuscany and makes for a great day trip, so lace up your shoes and get ready to explore…
Start your day the Italian way and pop into a local coffee bar for a creamy cappuccino. Try Pasticceria Nencioni and enjoy your morning caffeine with a fluffy brioche or a delicate cornetto, the softer and less buttery version of a croissant.
Once you’re fuelled and ready to explore, head to the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral first thing to avoid the queues. Built in the 13th Century, it’s known for its detailed, medieval architecture and iconic red-tiled dome. It’s the largest in the world and you can walk the 463 steps to the top for panoramic views over the terracotta roofs of Florence.
At ground level, stroll over to the Galleria dell’Accademia, where you’ll find a range of Michelangelo’s sculptures, including his world-renowned masterpiece, David. Wander through the main halls to see an array of works by various Italian artists, donated to the gallery by the Medici family, who ruled Florence during the Renaissance.
Tip: Book tickets ahead of time for individual museums or invest in a museum pass – it’ll save you spending time queueing.
Now you’ve worked up an appetite, tuck in to authentic pasta and try fine Tuscan wine at Trattoria Sergio Gozzi – just by San Lorenzo Market. Or if you’re keen to keep moving, then pick up a quick lunch at the market. It’s the largest and oldest food market in Florence, where you can see, smell and sample the local cuisine. Try seasonal truffles, buffalo mozzarella and grab a traditional tripe sandwich at a Lampredotto stand.
A traditional tripe sandwich
Once home to the powerful Medici family, the Palazzo Vecchio is now the city hall and has a 311-foot-high bell tower, which you can climb for views of Santa Maria del Fiore and the rolling Tuscan countryside.
And if you’re visiting before August 2019, it’s showcasing Da Vinci’s famous manuscript the Codex Atlanticus, scribbled with his own thoughts and ideas.
In the mid-afternoon heat, saunter down to the river bank and treat yourself to a scoop of cool, soft gelato. Check out Gelateria La Carraia, which has a variety of classic and fruity flavours, including the indulgent tiramisu mousse.
At the Uffizi Gallery you’ll find the ‘Leonardo Room’, which is dedicated to Da Vinci’s early works like the Baptism of Christ – made for the Church of San Salvi, Florence in the late 15th century – the Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi. In total, the enormous Uffizi Gallery has over 100 rooms to explore, so put aside a few hours to witness some of the world’s finest Renaissance paintings.
As the day draws to a close, Ponte Vecchio is the prime spot for taking in views of the rosy sky as the sun sinks beneath the hills.
Away from the tourist-filled piazzas, the authentic restaurants are perfect for ending your time in Florence. Head to Sano Spirito square, where you’ll find classic cafés, wine bars and some of the cheapest restaurants in town. If you’re splashing out for dinner, try La Bottega del Buon Caffé – a Michelin-starred restaurant that serves up heavenly food from its own farm in the Sienese hills. Make sure to try the perfectly-cooked tagliatelle with a dear sauce.
Take a day trip to Florence from the rural provinces of Florence and Siena.
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Author: Laura Clements
Published: June 14, 2019
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