Florence is the capital of the Italian region of Tuscany and attracts millions of visitors each year. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a center of art and culture since medieval times. Best of all, Florence has many attractions to suit just about anyone.
Where to Stay
Whether it is a bed and breakfast place, an apartment you rent from an individual owner or a hotel room that you are looking for, Florence has it all. There are three areas where you can find accommodation. The historic center, the larger metropolitan area outside the old center and the outskirts and hills surrounding the city. Each area offers a very large variety of different types of facilities.
The most popular choice and therefore the most expensive as well is the historic center. It’s a relatively small area, a district of breathtakingly beautiful old buildings surrounded by a large boulevard built in the place of the old city walls.
Outside the old city, accommodation is cheaper, but not less cozy and well equipped. It is the best choice if you come by car and you need a safe place to park your vehicle. It will also let you sample what residential life for the locals is really like.
Finding a place in the hills surrounding Florence is best for visitors who want to combine sightseeing in the city with the exploration of Tuscany. Accommodations here will allow you to do both.
Where to Eat?
Florence gives you restaurants with international kitchen as well as the very best of Tuscan cuisine. You can find simple, delicious and very hearty authentic dishes in any trattoria. Hit the square behind the Mercato Centrale, the central market and you will find lots of great and friendly places. One place is the Trattoria da Mario that offer the best food and the most extraordinary wine selections for very reasonable prices.
If you like beef, you should also try the world-famous Florentine steak. It’s a huge chunk served in modest restaurants and prepared by world-class chefs such as in Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco.
If you prefer modern places, you can check the Piazza Santa Croce and hit Oibo. This place offers cocktails, an eat-all-you-can buffet and a sleek, modern environment for very reasonable places.
What to Do?
Florence is as varied in terms of the activities available, as it is when it comes to food and accommodation. Start by going on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour and see the most beautiful buildings created by Renaissance masters. Then go around the place on foot and create your own itinerary. It must include the Ponte Vecchio, the bridge linking the two sides of the Arno. You will find small and extraordinary jewel shops, museums such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art or the Galleria dell’Accademia that gives home to Michelangelo’s David. Still not done, do not forget to check off palaces such as Palazzo Vecchio and cathedrals such as Santa Maria del Fiore or Santa Trinita.
If you love the arts and not only the visual arts and architecture, but music, too, you can attend one of the numerous opera performances in the historical center. Many of them are free. From June to September, you can enjoy free jazz concerts all over the historic center as well.
If you feel you would like to relax after visiting the busy city, the hills of Fiesole offers a completely different kind of entertainment. You can go for walks, hike, visit villas or just find a spot and take in the view.
City Explorers Tip
If you want to explore a place that looks like nothing else in Florence and is also a quiet place not very frequented by tourists, go to the Oltrano, just across the river Arno. The small district is more bohemian and even more relaxed than the rest of the city. It offers not only a wide choice of restaurants and cafes, but also an excellent opportunity to buy some souvenirs.
A Day off the Beaten Path
If you are looking for some unusual things to do during your stay in Florence, you can plan your own itinerary and make your holiday truly unique.
Start the morning by grabbing breakfast at one of the extraordinary brunch places downtown such as the Moyo, right next to Santa Croce. Then, go on to explore some unusual sights such as the Vasaro Corridor, a secret passageway that links the Palazzo Vecchio and the palazzo Pitti. The corridor starts under the Uffizi and runs for about a kilometer, with walls lined with renaissance art. When you come out at the other end of the passage, you can go straight to the Giardino Bardini. This garden is full of tiny grottos and colorful blooming flowers. Afterwards, enjoy a cup of real, Italian coffee at the peak, in the Kaffeehaus.
Continue your day like locals do. Only tourists finish their day early on, so take your time, stroll around a bit more, then get an aperitivo in a bar. The day is far from over, if you are not exhausted, go to Eby’s Bar in the Via dell’Oriundo. There you can enjoy the fruit plate Eby himself prepares for you and the orders he shouts out to you about how to eat your plate.
Florence is a city that shows an entirely different face during the night than it does during the day. The center is very crowded during the day, but at night everything becomes more relaxed, the building are all beautifully illuminated.
If you would like to try authentic local cuisine and a traditional Italian dish that may not be to the liking of many, but it is a must-try, you should check out one of the places that sell tripe sandwiches.
Sold from tripe carts in most squares in the city, these large sandwiches are available with or without salt. When Italians say salty, they mean really, really salty! Beware, hot or cold, with or without a salsa sauce, whichever version you choose, it will surely be among the most memorable dishes you have ever tried.
What about you? Share your Travel Tips and Recommendations for Florence in the comments below. Thanks!