Florence, Italy, is a great place to visit
; this beautiful city built around the River Arno is the capital of the Tuscany Region. Florence has numerous beautiful Renaissance style buildings including palaces and churches to visit and explore.
If you are arriving by plane you will probably have chosen the Florence “Vespucci” Airport which is about 5km from the city centre, many charter and scheduled flights also fly to Pisa Airport which is around 95km west of Florence. There are shuttle buses which leave Pisa Airport taking passengers to Florence alternatively you can opt to journey by train.
Florence is a fairly easy city to find your way around, walking is probably the best way of getting about and seeing the sights, and experiencing the timeless beauty of the place, traffic is partially banned in the historic centre and many of the popular museums and sights are north of two central bridges in the area around the Duomo.
You will find walking tours are on offer with English speaking guides giving you the opportunity to learn a little of the history and culture of the city they take in the main city highlights. There are also various bus tours available which may be of interest stopping at some of the visitor attractions and allowing some time for a walk around.
Some of the Tourist attractions
that might interest you are as follows: - The historic Plazza del Signoria which has been the centre of Florence’s politics since the 14th century. This important square has many striking statues relating to the city’s historic past and is dominated by the Palazzo Vecchio which was completed in 1322, originally used for city meetings it is still in use today as Florence’s Town Hall. It is well worth taking a guided tour of the building as you get to see some parts you would not normally have access to.
Florence’s cathedral the Duomo towers above the surrounding buildings, as you wander through the nearby streets you will catch sight of the red tiles of its dome which is visible from many parts of the city. In the interior of the cathedral is the fresco of The Last Judgement plus other significant historical and religious treasures. Underneath the nave are the excavated remains of a 6th century church the Santa Reparata which stood on the site prior to the Duomo. You should take the opportunity to climb the dome apart from some outstanding views you will get an insight into the engineering brilliance of the inventor Filippo Brunelleschi.
If you are feeling energetic you may want to climb the 414 steps to the top of the cathedral’s detached bell tower, the Campanile, and one of the best bits for many visitors to Florence.
To the west of the Duomo is Florence’s Baptistery, documented in 897 the interior is beautiful with mosaics and black and white marble cladding. The East doors are known as The Gates of Paradise.
The Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo located behind the east end of the cathedral houses many important vulnerable works of art including original sculptures from the cathedral, religious paintings, 16th century marble relief’s, vestments, fabrics and much more.
There are more museums close by and a little further from the Piazza del Duomo that may be of personal interest to you, the Museo Del Bigallo is supposedly the smallest in the city. If you would like more information on the galleries, churches and museums you should get in touch with the Tourist Office in Florence who can give you up to date details of opening days and times etc. Many of the main museums close on Mondays.
As you explore the city and wander through the winding streets of the Santa Croce area you will come across restaurants, souvenir and craft shops. There are plenty of restaurants and eateries to choose from and as a general rule look for one that is popular with the locals, in some of the tourist eateries the food is not great and they can be more expensive! There are a selection of wine bars where you can enjoy a glass of wine and a snack, if you prefer try one of the many cafés relax with coffee and cake.
For those of you who like to shop there are many designer shops, department stores and shops selling top quality shoes and leather goods. The busy shopping streets are Via dei Cerretani; via dei Calzaiuoli Street and via Roma, markets are also popular with locals and visitors alike. Nightlife in the city varies from open air venues in the summer months to a variety of clubs and bars some with a variety of live music and dancing until late.
Accommodation is fairly expensive and you must book in advance especially in July and August the main holiday months, there are choices if you book early from basic rooms, apartments and hotels of all types depending on your budget and needs.
There is a lot more to see and do in Florence than we have been able to cover, you should find something to suit you in this historic and beautiful city.