Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, 1. Entrance free to interior of cathedral. Thu, 9am-2pm ; Oct-Mar: The original shopkeepers — a malodorous mix of butchers, blacksmiths and tanners — were banished by Ferdinando I in , and a more palatable collection of jewellers and goldsmiths moved in; trades that are still there today. Be sure to set the alarm and visit at dawn.
Not only will you avoid the crowds, but at this time of day the sunlight dancing on the surface of the Arno is simply magical. Unless you want to queue for hours, book in advance online. Or you can simply pop in just before closing. Booking is essential in high season. T he 15th-century artist, Fra Angelico, lived and worked in this convent between and and left some of his most famous spiritual paintings here.
Look carefully at the Linaiuoli Tabernacle and you will see that it is bordered by delightful images of musical angels that have appeared on many a Christmas card. F or a very different perspective on Florence, you can sign up for a trip on one of the traditional wooden barchetti that used to ply the Arno as transport for building materials.
The boats have a capacity of around 12 passengers and each minute tour accompanied by an English-speaking guide passes many landmark buildings and monuments en route, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio and the very grand Palazzo Corsini. Tours run May-Sept, times vary considerably. In the summer months, the courtyard hosts an eclectic programme of arts and cultural events, including performances in music, theatre and dance.
Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm; Sat, 9am Saint Jerome in His Study with a lion is particularly appealing. Mon and Sat, 9am-1pm Price: But the final rooms are what most visitors come for: O ne of the most important fresco cycles in Florence is hidden away in a tiny side chapel off the Baroque church of Santa Maria del Carmine. These were started in by Masolino and Masaccio and completed some 50 years later by Filippino Lippi. The scenes portray a naturalism that was revolutionary for the time; the images of Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden are positively harrowing.
They are currently housed in the city of Ravenna, his final resting place, after being exiled from Florence. This is, by far, the most famous view overlooking the city and has been reproduced on countless postcards and photographs. You will also find a bronze replica of David that is thought to be safeguarding the city. If you choose to walk to the Piazzale, make sure you wander through the Oltrarno, the neighborhood on the other side of the Arno river from the duomo, which is all too often overlooked. At night, it can be quite romantic to take in a local musician busking at the center of the bridge, while gazing upon the city lighting up the river.
The castle-like building was built in — as the original seat of government. It contains the greatest collection of Renaissance sculpture in Florence and is one of the best collections in Italy. Lined with bars and a more bohemian style crowd, this is where you will find the locals. It is a stunningly beautiful minute bus ride through the Tuscan countryside to the small village of Impruneta where you will find this gourmet treat. It is quite hip and the award-winning bartender turned owner, Dario, will be sure to take good care of you!
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The bartenders are friendly and eager to show off their skills! If you are looking for a great drink and good quality food for an aperitive, this is your place! My favorite thing to do in Florence at night is to explore the sites! Visit the museum in Palazzo Vecchio at night and you will get a treat like you never imagined!
No lines, no crowds, and a beautifully quiet view of some of the greatest masterpieces in the world! Stop into Dolce Vita for a cocktail and a little aperitivo and enjoy a lovely tour of the city under the stars! It is not central, so you can avoid the crowds and all the night-time noise. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. There is WiFi, free parking and gluten-free menu options. Family owned and operated, it is really a wonderful place to stay.
The best things to do in Florence
Bellavista is located in the quaint village of Impruneta, just a 30 minute countryside drive or bus ride from the city. Owned and operated by the Becucci family for over years, authentic Tuscany is what you will find here. There is always someone ready to answer any of your questions and help you in any way. Comfortable rooms, gourmet cuisine, and as the name implies, beautiful views! The village of Impruneta is a gem all to itself! Here, you will find beautifully quaint streets lined with the biggest names in high fashion.
For a comprehensive calendar of major events, go to the events page in Life in Italy.
This is where I get all my Italian news and information. This is an incredibly informative site if you are planning a visit. Almost any site can be reached on foot. Just be sure to wear your most comfortable shoes, it will be worth the investment! The brick streets and uneven walkways are not conducive to small heels. The bus system is quite reliable. Getting around by bus is pretty easy too, you just need to know where to get your tickets and what the routes are. The Santa Maria Novella train station is conveniently located in the city and fairly easy to navigate. As with any train station, be aware of your belongings at all times.
Top 10 Things to Do in Florence (According to Jessica)
I have never had any problem finding a bar the Italian name for cafes that offer free wifi to customers. I usually just get a coffee and a pastry and have a seat outside. The city of Florence now offers free WiFi in 12 piazze and parks. Access is via password in compliance with Italian laws, and limited to one hour a day.
The summers can be quite hot and horribly crowded. The winter is a bit cold, but you will not encounter many tourists at all. Visiting in the off-seasons will give you a much deeper experience to not have to fight the crowds and it will be significantly less expensive all the way around, especially the airfare!
Taking a drive through the Chianti, home to the most well-known Italian red wine in the world is something every Tuscan visitor should do. Extending over the provinces of Florence and Siena and covering all of the area between, Chianti offers a unique landscape with green, rolling hills covered with fields of vineyards and olive groves, small stone villages, and countryside homes in stone.
You will want to find yourself in Sienna at the end of your drive. Second only to Florence in importance in the history of Italian art, Siena is a must see in Tuscany. Stop and people watch in Piazza del Campo, one of the most beautiful piazzas in all of Italy, as you soak in all that Siena has to offer. Take a virtual tour of Siena and get a taste of how magnificent this city really is!
If you do not want to hire a car and drive yourself, you can take a bus or hire a day excursion driver to bring you there. I prefer to fly Luthansa. With layovers in Germany, I find the airports to be accommodating and easy to navigate and the airline to be reliable. I try to avoid a layover in Paris whenever I can, getting stuck in a massive airport can easily make you miss your connection. My favorite 3rd party travel booking site is Skyscanner , I have saved hundreds of dollars booking through them.
You can also take a bus or a train in, which will bring you to the Santa Maria Novella station, right in the middle of the city. I love walking down random streets and experiencing the true quaintness of less-traveled paths. Just remember to be safe and always carry a map! If you get really lost, just ask anyone to lead you to the Duomo. Palazzo Strozzi — Here you will find a constant rotation of exhibits.
It is often overlooked because the current exhibits will not be listed in the guide books. With all exhibits in english as well as Italian, the breathtaking presentations are certainly an underrated gem of the city. You will not be disappointed!
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Every time I visit this remarkable city, I fall in love all over again! From the food to the culture, the architecture and the art, the language and the people. She is a travel and portrait photographer, writer, and owner of Capturing Tuscany, an authentic Tuscan touring company. Laurel is currently writing a book about the people of Giglio Island, Italy and their experience with the Costa Concordia disaster.
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Fantastic article and pictures — so extremely helpful and informative. Thank you so much for your great feedback! I wish you the best on your journey to finding your way to Italy, please keep in touch. It has been 30 years since I have been over there and Florence was always my favourite place of all.
I have got acres of travel books which just send your head into a spin.
What to See in Florence: Top Tourist Attractions in Firenze, Italy
I love this post of yours as it is so personal and makes everything to do with visiting Florence sound easy, comfortable and enjoyable. I hope you find Florence to be quite the same as it was 30 years ago. Have a wonderful trip! Great summary of Florence. I was just there and enjoyed many of the things Laurel mentions, including Palazzo Strozzi. Their Thursday night events with free entrance and the outdoor cafe scene are great!! Such a beautiful place. It would be great to go back in the Spring and appreciate it more.
Thank you so much! Indeed, visiting off season is quite a different experience. Florence has been on my list for a while, but your endorsement really makes me want to go! Florence is an amazing city! Once you go, you will find yourself wanting to return again and again! What a terrific summary of what to enjoy in Florence — thank you!
One day in Florence: 10 things you HAVE to do! | Visit Tuscany
We get there as often as we can, and are eager to share this favorite with new Music and Markets guests later this month. Seems like you know how easy it is to fall in love with Florence! Thank you for your great feedback! Florence is a really great city, but I never had the chance to visit Chianti. Indeed, the entire Tuscan countryside is quite the wondrous place! I really believe that when a place is as wonderful as Florence, it just sells itself. Thanks again for your comment. Thank you for your comment, Reena. Yes, Siena is more quiet than Florence, especially in the off seasons.
I was able to remove a bucket list item this past summer at the historic Palio race in Siena not a time to avoid crowds. It was an experience I will hold with me for the rest of my life. Siena is in my top three towns in Tuscany, for sure. You can read my story on the Palio here- http: Really nice and informative post about Florence and its surroundings like Chianti area and Siena.
What a wonderful post! We missed Florence on our recent trip to Italy but we have plans to visit on our next trip for sure. Your post contains so much valuable information on Florence and the surrounding area that I feel well prepared for our visit, thank you so much! I loved the photography too. There are so many wonderful places to see in Italy, it would take a lifetime to get them all. Hopefully, you will make it to Florence next time.