Since returning, so many people have asked us which city was our favourite. Without hesitation Jenny and I have always answered; Florence. While we have previously brushed over some highlights of Florence in a previous post, this post will cover different highlights in more depth to help out our fellow travellers that have shared their own tips with us.
So what makes Florence our #1? Its a combination of the following:
- Oodles to see; it seems like half the world’s famous art pieces are here (plenty to keep you busy)
- Accessibility: the historic centre is small and pedestrian friendly (15-20min walk would get you to most places)
- Reasonably affordable; the prices are are a midway point between Western and Eastern Europe
- Great vibe; the city feels alive, full of life, beauty and history around every corner
- Fantastic local products; from their Florentina Beef right through to their famous bags and other Italian leather goods.
The Duomo – This church is gorgeous, with plenty to explore from the bell tower, the huge dome itself, the church interior/exterior, crypt and stunning seperate baptistry with its neck straining but amazing golden mosaic ceiling that rivals the big dome. A whole day of adventures (just make sure you get the museum pass to skip the lines!)
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (The Duomo Museum) – Most of the church’s original pieces have now been swapped out and are stored in the Duomo’s museum. Here you’ll be able to see the gates of paradise, reconstructions of the construction process & a number of impressive art pieces including that of Michelangelo. A definite highlight that we recommend!
The Baptistry – Beautiful and striking. The baptistery should not be missed!
Michelangelo’s David – If this trip around Europe has taught me anything, its that Michelangelo is actually phenomenal. Michelangelo’s David is no exception -> while you could get away with being the replica in the town centre (outside Palazzo Vecchio –which is pretty decent), there is just something extra special about this piece!
Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella (Monastic Pharmacy) – A monastic pharmacy selling to the public since the 16th Century, this place acts as both shop and free museum. Witness the sights, smells & sounds for a full trip of the senses!
Central Market – Downstairs hosts some excellent spots to grab an affordable bite to eat & upstairs holds the restaurant version of a food court – perfect for late night catch ups with friends!
Leather Bags -Florence & leather bags are almost synonymous with one another, a great selection of excellent quality – don’t believe anyone who tries to prove validity with the ‘leather doesn’t burn to a flame’ test (it does), its all about finding the rough back of the leather!
Florentina Steak – Perfect for any meat lovers out there; a T-bone steak served thick and rare with a light seasoning, matched with a local wine. Absolutely delightful! We reccomend checking out Rubaconte Restaurant for a great food/deals! (We had a 1kg steak, with grilled veggies, wine, fresh bread and balsamic reduction for $36 for the both of us)
Uffizi Gallery – Vast & impressive; holding many of world’s top pieces from the likes of Leonardo Di Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo & Rembrandt. Give yourself plenty of time to see everything (& harness the power of the Museum Pass to skip those killer lines)
CLET’s studio – We’re big fans of street art, so having seen his work throughout Europe, we were very excited to visit his studio and meet the man himself! A creative talent whose work appeals far and wide & stretches even further.
Vivoli Gelateria – We’ve said it again, we’ll say it again, if you go Florence, definitely check out Vivoli Gelato Store, the home of the best Gelato we’ve had in europe – be adventurous, try something you normally wouldn’t 😉
Palazzo Vecchio – The Hall of the 500 is big and grand (with secret messages hidden in paintings), secret passages & impressive sights. This was mostly a highlight (but soon became obvious that the reception staff are not kept well informed of openings/closures – so go upstairs to the entry of the Hall of the 500 to enquire with them before parting with your pretty pennies). Also enquire at the reception about adding on a secret passages tour to your entrance fee, relatively its not much more and meant to be pretty cool!
Academia – While seeing Michelangelo’s David is pretty impressive, we hadn’t realised that 1) Academia is reasonably small & 2) that its all religious art (which I’m partial to, but large doses start to become repetitive) – Its only really worth it with the museum pass that will allow you to skip the monster line.
Boboli Gardens – It’s certainly huge, and there are a few things you can spot from Dan Brown’s Inferno, overall we found the garden to be less impressive than we’d expected.
Dante Museum – Dante was a notorious character of Florence’s past & played a central role in Dan Brown’s Inferno; we assumed the museum would be as interesting to match…but how wrong we were…
Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi – Right across from the Dante Museum you’ll find a small chapel dedicated to to Dante & his true love Beatrice. Which is famous for having a basket filled with notes pleading for help sorting out their love life next to Beatrice’s grave… overall, we found the church to be a little underwhelming and the size & quality of the basket to overstated.
Get the Museum Pass! Yes its expensive, but so is staying a couple of extra nights to get through everything you want to by lining up. The pass was super straightforward; saving us time and money and allowing us to visit bonus attractions we otherwise would have missed!