Florence is the capital city of Tuscany in Italy and is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. It attracts millions of tourists a year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 due to its ‘Outstanding Universal Value’.
Top Places to Visit
Piazzale Michelangelo – This is a relatively recent addition to the monuments in Florence, as it was created by Giuseppe Poggi, a Florentine architect, in 1869 when they were restructuring the city walls. The most impressive thing about this is not the piazza itself, but the panoramic view it offers over the city.
Along with its awe-inspiring views, it also offers a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David and the Ristorante La Loggia which has both a coffee bar and full fledged restaurant with terrace.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – This is the main church of Florence and it took 140 years to build, from 1296-1436. The Cathedral is one of Italy’s largest churches and the dome is the largest brick dome ever constructed. It also contains several stunning frescos and is notable for its 44 stained glass windows, which was the largest undertaking of its kind in Italy at the time.
A ticket costs €15 which also grants access to Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum. Your ticket is usable for 48 hours from the first passage and allows you to visit each place once.
You have to book in advance if you want to visit the dome. It’s also recommended you book in advance for the Bell Tower and the Museum, but it’s not mandatory.
Accademia Gallery – This gallery was founded in 1784 and is best known for housing the original David by Michelangelo. It also offers other sculptures by Michelangelo and a collection of Renaissance paintings including works by Sandro Botticelli.
It’s open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday : 8:15am-6:50pm, Tuesday and Friday: 8:15am-10:00pm. The tickets cost € 8,00 and it is suggested you pre book your tickets, either online or by phone, to avoid large queues.
Other attractions include: The Uffizi Gallery which has a large collection of Renaissance art, including Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’, and the Piazza della Signoria which has many impressive statues and is the political hub of the city.
A Place to Stay
Portrait Firenze – This five star hotel is right in the heart of the city, 30 yards from the famous Ponte Vecchio. It’s within walking distance of many historical attractions and shopping areas making it ideally located for any visit.
The Portrait Firenze also offers five different places to eat and drink, including La Terrazza Lounge Bar where you can look out over the Arno River while sipping a French Martini. And while it does not have its own facilities, guests are able to use the nearby White Iris Beauty Spa, in their sister hotel Continentale, for a wide variety of spa and beauty treatments.
A Place to Eat
La Bottega del Buon Caffè – This Michelin starred Tuscan restaurant is well known for its six or eight course tasting menus and the paired wines that are available are highly recommended. As part of their ‘Farm to Plate’ experience they use ingredients harvested from their own kitchen gardens to ensure everything is fresh. The menu is available online so you can see what’s on offer and get your tastebuds ready.