Tucked away among the mountains and rivers of Tuscany is an ancient town best known as the birthplace of the Renaissance and gelato. Hel-lo, Florence! Since its foundation by Julius Caesar himself some 2,000 years ago, Florence has enchanted travellers with its beautiful sites, breathtaking art, rooftop views and – of course – freakin’ delicious gelato. Here, blogger and Florentine local, Alice Salani, shares her 10 favourite city stops.
Even as a born and bred Florentine, the city never ceases to amaze me. The streets are soaked with history and culture, there are plenty of events to check out and, of course, there’s the kick-ass Florentine cuisine.
“FLORENCE IS ONE BIG OPEN-AIR MUSEUM, THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW TO UNLOCK AND DISCOVER.”
Let’s go on a tour of my top 10 Florence experiences, shall we?
#1 THE PANORAMIC VIEW FROM PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO
Did you know Piazzale Michelangelo offers the best view of Florence? It’s an obligatory stop! The ideal time to visit is at sunset, when the atmosphere is as vibrant as the colourful sky. Needless to say, it’s one of my favourite spots in the world.
#2 A CULTURE FIX AT VILLA BARDINI
If you’re a culture lover, Villa Bardini is the place to be. This 17th-century villa and adjacent garden is now a space dedicated to culture, art, history and music, and hosts a lot of interesting exhibitions. The garden is a true hidden gem, especially when the wisterias are in bloom.
#3 TIME FOR REFLECTION AT THE DUOMO
The Duomo is the fourth largest church in Europe, and is located on one of the most beautiful squares in Florence. The cathedral is hard to miss, not least for its iconic Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The ‘Dome’ – otherwise known as Cupola di Santa Maria del Fiore – is truly the heart of the city.
#4 CLIMB CAMPANILE DI GIOTTO, THE BIG BEN OF FLORENCE
You won’t have to travel far from the Duomo for this next icon. The Campanile di Giotto is considered the most beautiful bell tower in Italy, and it’s located right next door to the cathedral. Likely designed more for decorative than for functional purposes, the tower is as breathtaking on the outside as it is on the inside (literally!) – climb the tower’s 400 steps to be rewarded with a great panoramic view.
#5 SEEK LITERARY REFUGE AT BIBLIOTECA DELLE OBLATE
Biblioteca delle Oblate is the public library of Florence, also a stone’s throw from the Dome. The beautiful rooms create a relaxing refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. On warm sunny days, the top-floor terrace is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
#6 VISIT PIAZZA DI SANTA MARIA NOVELLA
This Piazza has been around since 1287 and is one of the main squares in Florence. The Renaissance facade of Santa Maria Novella is an impressive backdrop for the many fairs and festivals held in the square throughout the year.
#7 AN ITALIAN COFFEE BREAK AT PIAZZA DELLA REPUBBLICA
#8 SEE PONTE VECCHIO, THE MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE SITE IN FLORENCE
Ponte Vecchio is a medieval arch bridge and one of our main city symbols. It was the only bridge crossing the Arno River until 1218. The artisan shops lining either side of the bridge are great places to buy souvenirs.
#9 STROLL THE LUNGARNI
Florence is one of the most photogenic cities in Europe thanks to the lungarni – the roads lining the Arno. Stroll the riverside and take in the atmosphere by day or the dazzling reflection of lights on the water at night.
#10 STAY AT THE STUDENT HOTEL
The Student Hotel (TSH) Florence Lavagnini is located in a monumental building, which used to be known by the locals as The Sleepy Palace. TSH woke it up with state-of-the-art co-working, accommodation and event spaces that are fun and welcoming for everyone.
Keep an eye out for their calendar of events – and, like so many places in Florence, the best views are from the rooftop (with obligatory pool, of course)!
Are you curious at heart and want to discover more about my beautiful hometown? Check out the Florence summer deals right here and rediscover summer.