How to spend a day in Florence
Famous for its art, architecture and museums, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Florence is a must-visit when you’re in Italy. 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.
THINGS TO DO IN THE MORNING
What better way to start your day with a proper Italian coffee? Visit Pasticceria Nencioni and enjoy your morning pick-me-up with a fluffy brioche roll 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 the red-tiled dome is the largest in the world – walk up the 463 steps to the top for panoramic views over the terracotta roofs of the city.
Back at ground level, stroll over to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see a range of Michelangelo’s sculptures, including his world-renowned masterpiece, David. Wander through the main halls to admire 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.
WHAT TO HAVE FOR LUNCH
Now you’ve worked up an appetite, tuck in to authentic pasta and fine Tuscan wine at Trattoria Sergio Gozz. Or if you’re keen to keep moving, pick up a quick lunch at the nearby San Lorenzo market – the largest and oldest food market in Florence. Try seasonal truffles and buffalo mozzarella and grab a traditional tripe sandwich at a Lampredotto stand.
WHERE TO GO IN THE AFTERNOON
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.
In the mid-afternoon heat, saunter down to the river bank and treat yourself to a scoop of gelato – check out Gelateria La Carraia, which has a variety of classic and fruity flavours, including indulgent tiramisu mousse.
At the Uffizi Gallery, you’ll find the Leonardo Room, which is dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci’s early works like the Baptism of Christ – made for the Florence’s Church of San Salvi in the late 15th century. In total, the enormous gallery has over 100 rooms to explore, so put aside a few hours to see some of the world’s finest Renaissance paintings.
HOW TO SPEND THE EVENING
As the day draws to a close, Ponte Vecchio is the prime spot for 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.
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