Visitors looking to spend their 2017 holidays exploring Italy’s culture could choose no better destination. Florence is the birthplace of Dante, Boccaccio, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci, among others. With so much artistic heritage, and some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world, Florence has a place of honour in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites’ list and is the ideal destination for art enthusiasts and history lovers.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Italian
- Time Zone: GMT +1
- Average flight time: 2h 35m
When to go
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Known as the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is a 2,000-year-old city surrounded by hills and crossed by three rivers. Florence is so deeply rooted in history and art that it would be hard to find one street, piazza, palace, or garden devoid of historical significance.
Of course, you won’t want to leave Florence without paying a visit to Ponte Vecchio. This Roman-era arch bridge constructed over the Arno has stood since 1218 as a symbol of Florence. What’s more, no visit to Florence would be complete without heading to the Accademia Gallery, where Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and ‘Slaves’ are housed, or to the Uffizi, where Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ and ‘Primavera’, and Leonardo’s ‘Annunciation’ can be admired.
Wine and Dine
From Michelin-starred restaurants to rustic trattorie, gourmands spending their 2017 holidays in Florence will be granted a prime exposition to Italy's most traditional dishes.
At Il Santo Bevitore you’ll be offered an extensive wine menu, delicious food, and refined cooking, all in a picturesque setting. Friendly service, high standards and reasonable prices make this restaurant a favourite among both locals and tourists. To savour traditional home-made Florentine cuisine, head towards the Oltrarno and look for Ruggero’s. The popular cuisine offered by this typical family-run trattoria mixes Florentine specialities with a wide variety of meat dishes and a small selection of vegetarian meals. If you’re looking to experience dishes like ribollito, spaghetti all carrettiera or bistecca fiorentina, Ruggero’s the place for you.
For a more sophisticated ambiance, Florence also offers an extensive variety of Michelin-starred restaurants. Or for excellent meals at reasonable prices, hop off to Ristorante Ora d’Aria. Located near the Uffizi Gallery, Ora d’Aria is a modern one-star Michelin-starred restaurant that will delight anyone looking for a relaxed place mixing sophistication with home-style decor and friendliness. For more elegance, look for Il Palagio. Located inside Palazzo della Gherardesca, this Michelin-starred hotel is all about exquisite courses and Italian wines offered under vaulted ceilings in an atmosphere of sophistication.
And if you find yourself famished near Ponte Vecchio, while running in and out of museums, galleries, chapels and churches, head to Al Tranvai. This cozy restaurant is decorated to look like a tram car, and is a favourite among the locals. Delicious, no-frills Italian cuisine with a creative twist and excellent wines is offered by a staff renowned for its friendliness.
Families wanting to make the most of their 2017 holidays in Florence will probably find themselves looking to combine their visits to churches and historical palaces with kid-friendly activities that will keep the children entertained. Fortunately, Florentine museums have largely bypassed this potential dilemma by creating programmes and activities tailored to visitors of every age. Inside Palazzo Vecchio, you’ll be offered a Family Kit that includes hats and crowns, photo albums and binoculars. All sorts of activities will also make sure to keep everyone entertained. Anyone over eight years old can participate in the Fresco Painting workshop, where a teacher will guide you through the process of creating your own small frescoes, which you can take home at the end of the tour.
And if you’re visiting Florence with children, be sure to head to Piazza della Repubblica for a ride on the antique carousel. A red and blue wooden carousel with 20 horses and two king’s carriages, that dates back to the 20th century and is now owned by the Picci family, combines entertainment and history, and is a favourite among children.
Action and Adventure
Tourists looking to spend their 2017 holidays outdoors will find exciting adventures around the Florentine countryside. A train departing from Santa Maria Novella can take you to a tour of Cinque Terre. It’s a 12-hour long tour excursion through the villages of Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso and Rio Maggiore, where you can hike through the hills of Manarola, follow the trail to Corniglia, and climb its final 382 steps for a magnificent view. A 40-minute boat-ride along the Riviera will also give you the chance to swim in the waters of Vernazza and Monte Rosso.
The wine enthusiasts won’t want to skip a horse riding adventure through the Chianti region, where a landscape of olive groves and vineyards will provide plenty of opportunities to admire the Tuscan countryside. For even more of an adventure into Tuscany’s natural heritage, from Rimigliano Beach you can head off to the nearby nature park where you'll have the chance to join one of the treks through Tuscany.
Life's a Beach
For tourists visiting Florence during the summer, the city offers some of Italy’s most well-known beaches just a train-ride away. Departing from Santa Maria Novella, your nearest option is Viareggio, which will give your 2017 summer holiday the full Italian experience—deckchairs, beach volley, gelato, local sunbathing, and even yachts.
For a less-crowded beach, be sure to head to the Rimigliano Beach. Located a two-hour train trip away from Florence, Rimigliano’s is a six-kilometre-long Blue Flag expanse of fine sand along the Etruscan Coast. Due to its quietness and sheltered nature – you’ll find that this shore is scattered not with deckchairs and umbrellas, but shells and driftwood – Rimigliano’s is the ideal place for people wanting to experience the raw beauty of Italy’s untouched beaches.
After a day spent soaking up culture and history, Florence, with its crowd of students, travellers, locals, and tourists, offers to spice up your 2017 holidays with all-night dancing and loud music. At The Tenax Club, just 10 minutes away from the city centre, you'll be granted a taste of the local nightlife at its most typical – dance lovers moving in time to house and techno music, DJ sets and dramatic lighting until the early hours. A few metres away from Piazzale Michelangelo, Flo’ Lounge Bar is a classier venue offering drinks, cocktails, dinner and finger foods along with DJ sets, live performers and house music.
Couples wishing to enjoy some of Florence’s most scenic sights cannot pass the chance of walking up to Piazza Michelangelo and taking in the 360-degree view the Florentine skyline offers. For more romantic scenarios head off to Brunelleschi's Dome – while climbing its 463 steps, you can take in Vasari's frescoes. The exertion will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Florence in its entirety. You’ll be able to spy the likes of Giotto's Bell tower, Santa Maria Novella, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio clearly from here.
For a quiet evening of relaxation, head towards the Boboli Gardens. With a collection of statues ranging from the Roman period right up to the 18th century, it’s one of the largest parks in Florence and just a few minutes from Pitti Palace. Here you can have a leisurely stroll or a relaxing picnic.
Visitors wanting to spend their 2017 holidays taking in European culture can choose no better destination. Florence is the birthplace of so many famous names, like Dante, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. With so much artistic heritage and some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world, it will certainly be a trip to remember.
Be sure not to miss the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, also known as the Duomo. Constructed between 1296 and 1436 with a dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and a bell tower built by Giotto, it’s one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Stop by the church of Sant’Ambrogio, which houses works by Botticelli, Masaccio and Gerini, as well as the tomb of the Renaissance painter, Granacci, and a marble altar designed by Mino da Fiesole. And don’t leave without seeing the Florence Baptistery with its three bronze doors dubbed by Michelangelo, ‘The Gates of Paradise.’ Dante and members of the Medici family were baptised here.
Next to Piazza della Signoria you’ll find the Uffizi, one of Europe’s most important museums, with works by numerous artistic big-hitters such as Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Rembrandt. And don’t forget to check out the Basilica di Santa Croce either. This place has earned the title of ‘Temple of the Italian Glories’ for being the burial place of figures such as Michelangelo and Galileo. Plus, Pitti Palace is the place to go to admire works by the likes of Raphael and Pietro da Cortona. Located on the south-side of the Arno, it was bought in 1549 by the Medici Family and used in the 18th century by Napoleon. Today it houses 28 rooms and over 500 Renaissance paintings of the Palatine Gallery. Finally, make sure not to leave Florence without taking a look at Michelangelo’s David, inside the Academy of Florence.