In the lead-up to our big summer Europe trip I’d done lots of research regarding how we might spend our time in certain areas but didn’t make it to planning our visit to Florence (outside of accommodation and transport in/out) – we ran out of time to do so and because of this, the city was to be quite a surprise for us.
We’d heard many positive things about it from friends and family but what would we make of Florence?
Firstly, Florence is beautiful, I don’t think there’s any doubting that. This old city is known the world over for its art, architecture and the beautiful vistas just outside of the city, throughout Tuscany (of which it is the capital).
The city itself manages to balance culture and its sense of history with the lighter side of life. It’s a beautiful place to wander the streets, soaking in all of the sights (plus it doesn’t hurt that it’s a relatively flat place so your feet will come away happy). For us, it didn’t compare to Rome but did have its own special charm.
What Can I Do In Florence?
Besides walking the streets and squares, eating your way through the city, there are a series of key points that are worth hunting out.
Take in the Best View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
After a little hike up from the river (well it’s not that little, but it is manageable) you’ll find yourself at Piazzale Michelangelo – a square that offers the most gorgeous views of Florence. We started here on our first morning in Florence to help orientate ourselves and suggest you do the same if you can. From this point you’ll get fantastic views over the Ponte Vecchio (Florence’s medieval bridge, with shops spanning it on either side) and of the Cathedral, along with the beautiful city itself.
The most recognised of all buildings in Florence, the Duomo or Cathedral is absolutely gorgeous – both Nathan and I commented that it was one of the most striking churches we’d ever seen.
You’re able to get inside the church without charge (which is practically unheard of in these parts of the world) but because of this, there are often large lines.
With the searing heat and long lines, we decided against entering the church or climbing the dome but should you wish to, you’ll find some information about gaining access to the dome and to the bell tower through these respective sites. We were more than content enjoying the views from outside of these stunning structures.
Florence is home to one of the most famous statues of all time, Michelangelo’s David, created between 1501 and 1504 during the Renaissance period. This towering statue can be found at the Accademia Gallery where is stands at an impressive 5.16 metres high, weighing in at 5,660kg of marble! We didn’t make it to see the original David ourselves but did spot the bronze replica in Piazzale Michelangelo. You’ll also find another copy at Piazza della Signoria in the exact spot where the original used to be.
Other incredible artworks can be found all around the city, both classic and modern. If you’re looking to spot some statues on mass, head over to Piazza della Signoria, where you’ll find countless figures. It’s funny though, one can’t help but notice how our idea of art has changed over the years…
So, Is Florence Really Worth Seeing?
If you have plenty of time available to you, absolutely. It’s a beautiful city that’s very walkable and offers up everything you’re looking for in Italian culture (which let’s face it, means you will be able to eat all sorts of yummy food).
If you’re short on time, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was our favourite place in Italy – I couldn’t even say that it was our favourite city. We absolutely fell in love with Rome and Venice was so wonderfully unique, that although we enjoyed spending time in Florence, I don’t think I could recommend it over either of those other two spots. We’ve also since visited the amazing beaches of Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, and if I had a limited timeframe, I think I’d visit Rome and pick one of those two coastal areas instead of heading further inland to Florence.
Have you been to Florence? If so, what did you think of this Italian city? We’d love to hear whether you agree or not…