Hello everyone. I hope you’re well and staying safe wherever you are. I am using this time to update my blog with all my travels before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. I hope you will enjoy my travel tips.
We visited Florence just before the Covid-19 lockdown. I am not sure what the city will look like now, but if you are itching to jet off, do your research before you go.
Florence is a romantic heaven for lovebirds. The city is beautiful and alluring. Rekindle your romance as you meander in and out of the many museums and churches. There are many places and many things to do. If you are on a 3-day break like we were, I recommend you plan very well, so you can see most of the popular sights.
Here are 9 top places you must visit when in Florence.
1. Piazza del Duomo
This square is home to the famous Florence’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is named after Santa Marie del Fiore (Our Lady of the Flower). Standing tall in all its gothic magnificence above the city skyline, it is one of the most popular sights for tourists.
The Dome weighs 40,000 tons, making it the biggest dome in the world. Wow! Very impressive indeed. Challenge yourself by climbing the 463 steps to top of the Dome and be rewarded with the most incredible view of Florence. You will spot some of popular landmarks such as the Ponte Vecchio and Santa Croce from this vantage point. The cathedral, which is the fourth largest in the world is elegant both inside and outside.
It can be very crowded, depending on the time of your visit. It is free to get in but you can book a guided tour if you want to avoid the line.
2. Uffizi Palace and Gallery
This is simply heaven for art lovers. The collection is staggering. Even if you are not an art lover, you will still appreciate the collection of art here. The vast and impressive building which was once intended for use as governmental offices and for art studies, stretches along the river.
Skip the queue by getting an e-ticket. If you truly want to understand and fully appreciate the art and the history, go for a guided tour. Whichever way you decide to go, you will surely take something away.
3. Piazza della Signoria and the Loggia dei Lanzi
You will find this broad square filled with tourists as well as locals. Aside from being the centre of power in Florence, it is also the social centre. You will find the Neptune Fountain here, the Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia dei Lanzi, which is an outdoor sculpture gallery. Wander hand and hand and take in the surroundings. The popular Michelangelo’s David is right in front of Palazzo Vecchio. This is of course, a copy.
4. The Academy Galleria (Academy dell’Accademia)
The original Michelangelo’s David is housed in a glass in this gallery. You will also find other important pieces here, both finished and unfinished. The Academy Gallery is a popular tourist attraction. Book a tour, if you can, to avoid the long line.
5. Ponte Vecchio
Head to The Ponte Vecchio, a beautiful arch bridge spanning the Arno river. With its arches, wide arcades and a jumble of shops, to me, Ponte Vecchio is pretty indeed. Stroll along the bridge and enjoy the bustle of tourists and locals shopping, or simply gaze at the dazzling display of jewellery in the shops. Better still, you can walk through the bridge and enjoy the amazing view of Arno river and Florence, as you head to the Pitti palace on the other side of the river.
6. Baboli Gardens
Your romantic break is not complete without a visit to the Pitti Palace Complex, where you will enjoy, amongst other attractions, the Boboli gardens which stretches behind the palace. Once here, you will understand why it is a model for royal gardens in Europe. There are fountains all over the garden. As you climb the terraces alongside the gardens, you are rewarded with sweeping views of the city.
7. Santa Maria Novella
A lovely church covered with some of the finest frescos. There is also a marble pulpit. Browse the convent’s historic family pharmacy for floral lotions and herbal balms.
8. Mercato Centrale (Central Market)
With all the talk about art, cathedrals, and museums, you will be forgiven to think that’s all Florence is all about. No! There is more to Florence. Head to Mercato Centrale to experience the rich, everyday food the Florentines enjoy. Once inside this giant and vibrant market space, immerse yourself with the exotic fragrance of different flowers, herbs, and varied garden produce like olives. Then head to the 1st floor for a foodie heaven.
This is the best place to sample Florence’s street food. Yummy! My husband and I enjoyed the famous T-bone steak with sweet onions and potatoes, washed down with one of the best Tuscan red wines. I strongly believe the best way to immerse yourself with the culture of a place is to sample the variety of cuisine on offer.
The famous San Lorenzo Market is just a few steps away. It runs through several streets. You will find everything from lovely cheap scarves to expensive leather bags. Be careful not to spend all your money here.
9. Piazzale Michelangelo (also spelt Michelangiolo)
This is one of the most popular sights for tourists. It offers a panoramic view of Florence from an elevated position. The view stretches to landmarks such as the Ponte Vecchio, Pallazzo Vecchio, The Duomo, and the bell tower of Fiorentino.
Luckily, it is easy to access both by foot or by bus 12 or 13 from the city centre. We decided to walk. It took us about 25 minutes from the Southbank of the Arno river to get to the top. I found climbing the stairs a bit challenging though, but my Fitbit was happy for it! We stopped along the way to admire the lovely views of the city as we made our way there.
It was a perfect way to end our romantic break. It was crowded with tourists, but who can blame them? The entertainment, sweeping view of the city below, especially the sunset, made our trip one to remember. It was magical. If you are ever in Florence, this is one sight you cannot afford to miss.
Bonus: How to get around Florence
Florence is not particularly a large city. If you enjoy walking, discovering, and appreciating the art that is Florence, walking is the best way. Better still, you can hop in and hop off the tour buses, which will take you to almost all the top attractions.
Finally, with its historic squares, museums, cathedrals, Renaissance statues, rich food and piazzas, Florence is certainly a city to visit, especially if you are on your honeymoon or simply taking a romantic break.
Have you been to Florence? Share your views.
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