Florence is a city with something new and brilliant to see around every single corner. There are so many things to do and to see in Florence that it I am sure it necessitates multiple visits in order to soak up all of the lovely art, architecture and good food.
I often think that your lasting impression of a place is very much influenced by where you stay and Florence is definitely up there in terms of accommodation. I stayed at the Plus Hostel and it’s website says that there is ‘There is no hostel in Europe that can match the facilities of PLUS Florence’. I would certainly agree with that as it had a pool and sauna, very helpful staff and a great breakfast offering!
So, what should you do in this beautiful city?
The Uffizi Gallery
If I was to give you just one tip for Florence above all others, it would be to book in advance to visit the Uffizi gallery! We queued for MANY, MANY hours to spend only a relatively short time in the gallery and this experience taught me both many new games to play while waiting in queues but also that I should listen to people’s advice when they all tell me to book in advance.
Apart from the queue, the highlights for me were The Birth of Venus, Allegory of Spring and Venus of Urbino. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my favourite painting, La Madonna del Collo Lungo, which is in the Uffizi, owing to building works, but at least I still use the bookmark of it I bought every day.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, or the ‘Duomo’ as it is also known, with it’s unique pink and green marble exterior, is one of the most beautiful and unforgettable churches I have seen. When I was there, I noticed that the Cathedral itself was the centre of a lot of activity, from groups of artists sitting around it to sketch the facade, to a large gathering of nuns and people that, as we later worked out, were going to Lourdes.
If you ascend the dome, as we did, be sure to check out the frescoes representing the Last Judgement, especially the region of Hell in the lower part of the dome.
I would say remember to visit the Duomo when you go to Florence, but I think it is pretty unavoidable!
The Boboli Gardens is a large park with a lot of beautiful hidden treasures including the very photographable fountain of Neptune, lots and lots of statues to have posing fun with and the Grotta di Buontalenti which I found utterly fascinating and really creepy at the same time.
One thing to note, the Gardens are not free to enter but I would say they are worth paying for as you could spend a very enjoyable time wandering around them as there is so much to see. A bottle of locally sourced wine, some food from a market and an evening in the gardens sounds pretty ideal actually.
As I mentioned, we were spoiled for choice with great quality food in Florence and the market choices certainly didn’t let us down either. The Mercato Centrale has all the food you could possibly want to try and you have no excuse not to take something tasty home as a souvenir with so many options. We ate at the famous Da Nerbone in the market and although I have no idea what I actually ordered owing to my failings with Italian, I still remember how amazing that sandwich was! We even managed to get a table and eating among the workers on lunch breaks and locals doing their food shopping was very enjoyable.
Piazza della Signoria
Like the Duomo, it would be hard to go to Florence and miss the Piazza della Signia, but I will mention it just in case you do! The Piazza is historically a focal point of the city and a lot of key events in Florentine history have taken place there. Nowadays, it is best known amongst tourists for the many, many beautiful and prized statues which are all around the square and especially in the arches of the Loggia dei Lanzi.
Some of the statues you can see include a famous copy of Michelangelo’s David, Hercules and Cacus, and, my favourite, The Rape of the Sabine Women. I would recommend reading up on the stories behind all of the statues to really appreciate and help make sense of all you are taking in.
I really hope you enjoyed this overview of some great things to do in Florence, a city of plenty; art, food, culture and natural beauty.
Happy blogging, J 🙂