Some cities don’t get near the attention they deserve (while others get too much!) and Florence is definitely one of them. Located in the heart of Tuscany, this Italian gem was home to the Renaissance and continues that tradition of artistic beauty and culture even through to today. Florence doesn’t have the pizzazz of Rome, the fashion of Milan or the surrealist layout of Venice, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has visited Florence and not fallen in love with it.
It starts simply enough. Most travellers enter the city from the train station and at first you may wonder what all the hoopla is about, particularly if you arrive at night and can’t see too much. Walking a few streets over will bring you face to face with the most out of place cathedral – the Duomo (while there are many duomos, this is the one worthy of being referred to as ‘the Duomo’). With it’s unique architecture that looks more like a giant 3-D puzzle than a very holy building, it’s definitely a structure to fall in love with and revisit throughout your time here.
Days in Florence are best spent wandering the streets and getting a little lost – for it is here that you discover what really makes Florence ticks and how it functioned in the past and today. You can see the hidden shops that largely cater to tourists now but many of which serve a purpose in the historic downtown. Hang out in the piazzas and marvel at how many people seem content to do exactly as you are doing – it’s a great way to spend your time.
If you’re a culture nut, there are no shortage of museums, galleries and churches to visit that will give you insight into not only the Renaissance but art in general. It is here that you will find Michelangelo’s David all over the city (but the real one is inside Accademia and needs a ticket bought to see it). Toss in a visit to Uffizi along the Arno river and you may see why a museum trip to Florence is no simple undertaking.
Shopping in Florence is something that is hard to resist even if you aren’t much of a spender. The thing most famous in Florence is leather crafting and there are no shortage of skilled artisans that make their living doing very much the same thing that has been taking place over all of Florence’s history. Whether it’s in a back alley, in the middle of a piazza or in a monastery, leatherwork is impossible to ignore in a visit to Florence.
Most important though, is how you should spend every night you possibly can while in this majestic city – gazing upon the city from atop Piazzale Michelangelo. It might even be argued that ahead of the Duomo, leather and David (but there’s a replica up there too!), this is the most famous attraction in the whole city. Soak up all the city is by watching the sun go down, framing the incredible scenery of this Tuscan gem. Best of all? It won’t cost you anything.
Really, it doesn’t matter what you do when you visit Florence as it’s guaranteed to be a great time. Be sure to stay downtown Florence to really get the full experience of the city comes to life with visitors from all over the world. If you need help in this respect, particularly when it comes to the confusing street numbering system for finding your accommodation, look to the good people at Oh-Florence.com to help get you started. It’s sure to be a city you’ll never forget and impossible not to fall in love with.