One of the most alluring cities in Italy is Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region, brimming with remnants of Italian historical and cultural heritage. Visiting Florence for the first time you get the feeling that you are in a grand, open-air art museum. Every nook and cranny of the city showcases a brilliant collection of Florence’s much-lauded artworks and historic heritage.
This enchanting city offers some of the best historical marvels and architecture in all of Italy. That’s not all; this beautiful city offers more than art. Wander around the city and you will see a whole new perspective of the Italian dolce vita. If you are visiting for the first time, then these pointers will help guide you.
“Must see” places when you visit Florence for the first time
The Uffizi Gallery
An important attraction when you visit Florence for the first time is the Uffizi Gallery. It is among the world’s prominent art museums. You can marvel at awe-inspiring works of famous artists including masterpieces of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Raphael. Housed in a renaissance palace, located next to Piazza Della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery is also one of the oldest art museums in the world.
The museum is open from 8.15 am till 6.50 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Admission cost is 20 Euros per person. It is advisable to buy your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment as well as the incredibly long queues.
Not sure what to see? Read : What to see at the Uffizi
Duomo and Piazza Della Signoria
It’s hard to miss the most significant landmark which instantly distinguishes Florence. Brunelleschi’s Duomo – a massive red-tiled dome on top of the Florence Cathedral that dominates the city skyline and is just one of the many subtle beauties of Florentine art that you will encounter in the city. The Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria are two popular spots to visit that reflect the Renaissance heritage. A stroll through these squares embarks on a journey through the grandeur of the city. A trip to Florence would be incomplete if you missed visiting the Duomo, Battistero, Palazzo Vecchio, the Fountain of Neptune, and Ponte Vecchio.
The Accademia is another world-famous museum that is home to some of the most popular works of Florentine artists and especially a collection of Michelangelo’s famous works. Here’s where you can view the sculpture of David. The museum is one of the most visited art museums in the world and offers an insight into the meticulous and creative world of the Renaissance art scene.
It is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15 am to 6:50 pm. Admission cost is EUR 7 per person. The first Sunday of every month is free so if you are on a budget plan to visit then.
A floral oasis amid the renaissance antiquities, the Boboli Gardens is a refreshing change from the colour palette from the city’s amber and orange-hued architecture. Located behind the Pitti Palace, the gardens are like an alfresco museum in itself showcasing a splendid collection of Renaissance sculptures, statues, and grottos throughout the park. This sprawling, lush landscape offers a relaxing respite for travellers to enjoy nature amid ancient oak trees, flowers in bloom and fountains. The Boboli Gardens is open for visitors daily from 8.15 am till early evening. Admission cost is around 10 Euros per person.
Florence’s cuisine is an integral part of discovering what the city has to offer. It is a combination of the freshest locally produced ingredients, excellent Tuscan wines and delicious regional dishes.
Embark on a journey that lets you indulge in some of the most scrumptious Tuscan gourmet delicacies as you head to Florence’s oldest food market – Mercato Centrale at San Lorenzo. Here you will find pizzas, paninis, gelatos and a variety of seafood.
Some of the food stands to check out are La pizzeria, Pasta Fresca, and Il Ciocolato e il gelato. The outdoor precinct of San Lorenzo is packed with stalls lined around the winding streets. The area around the market is also quite famous for leather goods, clothing and souvenirs.
Where to dine
After enjoying a day exploring Florence’s heritage, it is time to indulge in some Tuscan food. Florence has numerous ways to tantalize your taste buds, but if you are looking for a refined epicurean experience, then the city offers an excellent choice.
Check out IO Osteria Personale, Cibrèo, Il Canapone and Oliviero which are some of the premium gourmet restaurants in Florence. If you are looking for a hearty, value for money meal, then head to Trattoria Orto or Trattoria Giovanni, where you can enjoy a scrumptious meal for 10 to 12 Euros. Don’t forget to indulge in some Italian gelato at Gelateria La Sorbettiera at Piazza Torquato Tasso, My Sugar Gelateria, San Lorenzo or Carapina at Piazza Signoria to name a few.
DISCOVER: HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST GELATO IN ITALY
Where to shop in Florence
Go on a shopping spree and splurge with some retail therapy in Florence’s extensive network of shopping streets that house some exquisite stores amid old-world charm. The most famous streets to visit for shopping are:
Via de’ Tornabuoni – This is the most famous street to shop in Florence and stretches from Piazza degli Antinori to Ponte Santa Trinita. This is your hub for the ultimate luxury shopping experience. The charming centuries-old buildings have been transformed into boutiques showcasing top Italian designers and international fashion brands.
Via dei Calzaiuoli – Get the best of branded items in this street that runs from Duomo to Piazza Della Signoria. This is one of the busiest streets for shopping in Florence and offers classic Italian fashion items.
Via del Parione: Florence is famous for its handcrafted items and leather goods. You will find similar items as well at Via del Parione. It is packed with artisanal shops, souvenir stalls, and high-quality Italian leather brands.
IF YOU ONLY HAVE 2 DAYS READ: HOW TO SPEND A WEEKEND IN FLORENCE
Helpful tips when visiting Florence
Once you have your Italy visitors visa it is essential to plan the details of the trip so that you have a memorable holiday.
Plan in advance. In Florence, there are a few tourist spots that you shouldn’t miss on your trip. However, these points of interests are usually crowded most of the time. Hence to avoid any disappointment, make sure you schedule ahead and pre-book your sightseeing tickets, especially for the Uffizi and Accademia. Don’t plan your city tours on Monday as most attractions and museums are closed on Mondays in Florence.
Get a Firenze Card. You will be travelling a lot in the city and visiting the museums in Florence. The Firenze Card offers access to most museums in Florence at a cost of roughly EUR 80. Upgrading to a Firenze Card + offers additional benefits for public transport (Ataf & Linea buses and tram) and discounts at selected food and drink services and tourist services.
Keep a travel guidebook, maps and an Italian phrasebook at hand so that you can consult your directions on your own. The phrasebook will come in handy if you face any language problems while asking a local for information. You could also download Google translate on your phone to make things easier.
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Priya (Travel World) is an avid travel writer who specialises in adventure travel writing. Her blog posts and articles give an insight into various tourist places and act as a perfect travel guide for someone who is travelling to a place for the first time. Her writing, researching and editing skills make her an easy read. She has blogged extensively about her travel experience while travelling to several places like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore , Europe, Dubai , USA, Canada.
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