First Timer's Guide To Florence, Italy
First-time in: Florence
The capital of the Tuscan region in Italy, Florence boasts a seemingly endless number of Renaissance masterpieces and architecture. Aside from the many historic landmarks, interesting museums, scenic landscapes and lively piazzas, you can also expect to find a myriad of Tuscan cuisine that’ll steal your heart.
If you’ve never been to this wonderful city, here are just a few of the highlights in Florence.
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Klook activities in Florence
Tour is inclusive of:
Meet-up time: 4:30pm
Meet-up location: Uffizi Gallery, in front of Door #1
Tour is inclusive of:
Meet up time: 2:15pm
Meet up location: Duomo Complex Ticket Office, Piazza di San Giovanni, 7, 50123 Firenze FI
Tour is inclusive of:
Meet up time: 9:15am
Meet-up location: Via Romana, 43 RED number
Please note that in Florence, there are 2 types of house numbers: red and blue. Red is for commercial activities and blue is for houses. You may find 2 equal numbers in a road that differ only for the color.
To get there, take bus 11 to Romana Station then walk down Via Romana for about 130 meters.
Serving as the main and most famous piazza in Florence is the grand Piazza della Signoria. With a dominating town hall, Palazzo Vecchio, this square is certainly hard to miss! Throughout the year, you can find this bustling square alive with plenty of activities as well as the occasional concerts, events, or fairs.
Surrounding the squares are numerous sculptures and galleries. Perhaps the most eye-catching ones are in Loggia dei Lanzi, a gallery of statues right by the piazza. The square is also a hub of sorts with the adjacent Uffizi Gallery as well as a connection to Palazzo Pitti via the Vasari Corridor.
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Right at the historic center of Florence is a prominent piazza in the city, Piazza del Duomo. It’s a major hotspot due to the surrounding landmarks around the square, namely the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile), the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) and more.
Many like to scale the height of the bell towers to witness the stunning view from above. It can be difficult to find your way in the crowd, so it’s worth to join a guided tour with a fast track entry.
Easily one of the world’s oldest and most visited gallery is right here in Florence, which is the Uffizi Gallery. It’s home to masterpieces of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Botticelli, Giotti and many more.
With a wide collection of the greatest works produced during the Italian Renaissance, it’s easy to spend hours in there. For an even more immersive experience, a guided tour will take you all the important artworks and give you great insights.
A feast for all your senses right at the heart of San Lorenzo, the Mercato Centrale is a must-visit spot when you’re in Florence. On the ground floor is a delightful hodgepodge of fresh produce essential to Tuscan cuisine from fruits and vegetables to seafood, cured meats, cheeses and other delicatessen goods.
As you wander to the upper floor, you’ll find a huge food court tempting you all sorts of local favourites like freshly-baked pastries, loaded sandwiches, homemade pasta dishes and more food than your belly can contain! Besides that, surrounding the outside of Mercato Centrale is the San Lorenzo Market where you can find leather, clothing, shoes to souvenirs stalls lining the streets.
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This larger-than-life 15th century palace is a stone’s throw away from Florence’s iconic medieval bridge, Ponte Vecchio. At the time of construction, the Palazzo Pitti was the largest private residence in Florence.
Also referred to as Pitti Palace, it was at one time the residence for the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Easily one of the more grandiose buildings in Florence, it’s also home to several monumental museums and galleries.
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Another major draw to the palace is the garden that is at the back of the building, the Boboli Gardens. Loved by locals and tourists alike, this green oasis is home to a number of important sculptures. It’s the perfect place for a nice stroll and to seek refuge from the sun during hot summer days.
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Arguably one of the top lookout points in Florence, Piazzale Michelangelo boasts a fantastic panoramic view over the city either day or night. Although you can get there by a car or bus, most people prefer to venture there by foot.
Getting to the top is a bit of a hike but it’s surely well worth it and the journey to the top is just as wonderful. Just below and to the left of Piazzale Michelangelo, you’ll find the Rose Garden, otherwise known as Giardino delle Rose.
Photo Credit: https://oddviser.com/italy/florence/piazzale-michelangelo
If you can, do make a quick pit stop at the garden where you’ll find over 350 varieties of roses during the right season. From the garden, you’ll also be able to enjoy the magnificent view while being surrounded by the lovely blooms.
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One of the liveliest parts of Florence, the Piazza Santo Spirito is lined with local restaurants, bottegas, local artisans and more. During evening time, it truly comes alive when the trattoria, cafes and nightclubs open.
The piazza is great for dining al fresco and do some people-watching. You can also find the square filled with people hanging out around the fountain or on the steps of a nearby church. It’s also the go-to spot for events and concerts from time to time.
Photo Credit: https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-monuments/piazza-santo-spirito.html
On the other side of the Arno river, you will find a charming neighbourhood of San Niccolo. With its prominent towering Tower of San Niccolo, the area is also home to a number of there attractions.
The vibrant Piazza San Niccolò, lively Arno Beach, grand Porta San Miniato, just to name a few, are part of San Niccolo’s charm. If you have the time to spare, walking around and getting lost in the area is a great way to discover some hidden gems.
Photo Credit: https://palazzosanniccolo.it/
If you’ve had enough dose of history and art, the Tuscan region also boasts great landscape with lustrous nature in the countryside. Away from the heart of Florence, you can find peaceful hills, scenic winery estates and even more stunning hillside villas.
Getting to the countryside may not be the easiest and straightforward, but a relaxing day tour can bring you to the best spot, away from the crowd. Sipping wine and relishing in the fresh air - this is the life!
A popular day tour when in Florence is to the Cinque Terre National Park. The breathtaking colourful seaside towns on Cinque Terre will captivate you in an instance. The clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, vibrant buildings, winding pathways and rustic villas simply look like they’re from a fairytale.
Make sure to pack along your swimsuit because the water by this scenic, centuries-old seaside village is lovely for a swim. Get those cameras ready too because something tells us, your fingers will be very trigger happy!
Must-try food in Florence
As the name suggests, which translates to Florentine Steak, this one is for the meat-lovers! It’s a cut of T-bone weighing anywhere from 1 to 4 kg, that’s fire-grilled over roasted chestnuts. It may have only simple seasonings of salt, pepper and lemon but that’s all it needs!
Also, we heard that it’s rude to request for the chef to cook it to your liking. So it’s best to leave it to the chef to prepare the Bistecca alla Fiorentina the way it’s supposed to.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
A popular street food that you can find at food carts in Florence, this dish seems to have many people divided. It’s typically made with tripe as the filling and paired with a crusty bun dipped in cooking broth or sometimes served separately on a plate. Some variations also come with the addition of spicy red sauce or herbal green sauce.
A dish for the Florentinian common folks during the medieval times, it’s a must-try even if you may be slightly squeamish!
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Although you can find gelato at almost every corner in Italy, you can find some of the best ones in Florence itself! This city is home to not only artisanal gelato but also some very unique flavours and flavour combinations.
A tip when looking for good gelato, avoid any vivid, artificially-coloured ones that are piled high up for display. If you can find a place which makes them in small batches, it’s bound to be a winner!
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