Walking the sights of Florence
Ponte Vecchio – The perfect stroll through Florence begins with a walk across the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, north toward the center of town. Admire the jewelry stores on the bridge, but beware the prices.
Piazza della Signoria – Heading north from the Ponte Vecchio, you will see on your right the Piazza della Signoria, the location of the Palazzo Vecchio (the seat of local government, dating back before the times of the Medici family). This piazza, or square, is the location of a dizzying number of famous statues that tell stories of Florence’s history.
Piazza della Repubblica – Continuing north from Piazza della Signoria, you will reach the Piazza della Repubblica, a wide open square with a carrousel in the middle, surrounded by nice shops and cafes where you can take a break to enjoy a cappuccino.
Il Duomo – Keep heading north from Piazza della Repubblica until you run into the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Duomo, the famous dome that dominates Florence’s skyline. Take in the beauty of the multi-colored marble and, if you are so inclined, enter the building to look around and climb to the top.
San Lorenzo Market – Continuing north from the Duomo, you will soon run into the San Lorenzo Market, where local merchants sell inexpensive goods in booths lining the street as far as the eye can see. This is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs.
Santa Croce – On your way back south to the Arno river from San Lorenzo Market, be sure to veer to the east and aim for the next bridge over from the Ponte Vecchio, the Ponte alle Grazie. You will pass many great shops and cafes until you reach the beautiful Santa Croce Church. The large piazza out front is often the site of outdoor concerts and other events.
Piazzale Michelangelo – South of the Arno River and a little bit east of the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is essentially a large outdoor square, hovers high above Florence and boasts the best views of the city. It is a bit of a climb to get there, but well worth the effort!
Eating in Florence
The dining experience in Florence is one to be treasured. There are countless amazing options, and almost any pizza stand on a corner will serve to delight the palate. Please contact us to access our ever-expanding list of favorite eateries around town.
Shopping in Florence
If you love to shop, or even just window shop, Florence has much to offer. The city is known for its leather goods and other beautiful fabrics, but also has designer boutiques and fantastic street markets. Don’t miss the large open markets around town selling local fresh food and locally-made goods. There is the recently-renovated Mercado Centrale, whose main floor houses the meat vendors and delis, while upstairs you will find fruit and vegetable sellers. Locals visit the market to do their grocery shopping and/or to grab a quick bite of lunch. The Sant’Ambrogio market across town is similar but slightly smaller, and will give you a taste of true local Florentine life. The San Lorenzo Market is a huge spectacle of booths that fills the streets around San Lorenzo Church, just north of the Duomo. This is a great place to go and find inexpensive leather and other goods that make nice souvenirs. Bargains can be found, don’t be afraid to haggle.
There are many wonderful museums in Florence. Some highlights are listed below.
Uffizi Gallery: Once the offices (“uffizi”) of the ruling Medici family, this building is spectacular to view even before you notice the artwork. But do take your time touring the art and watch the Renaissance unfold before your eyes. Reservation highly recommended. Closed Mondays.
Galleria dell’Accademia: This museum houses some very special works but is most famous for several sculptures by Michelangelo, including David. Reservation highly recommended. Closed Mondays.
Palazzo Pitti: When the Medici moved their residences across the river into the Pitti Palace, they built a secret passageway from the Uffizi, across the Arno river and to the palace. (When you look at the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, you’ll notice an enclosed second floor). Now the palace houses some lovely artwork, including a fun costume gallery. Behind the palace are the Boboli Gardens, which are nice to walk while admiring the statues. Some sections of the palace are open daily, including the gardens, and some are closed Mondays.