ULTIMATE Travel Guide to Florence, Italy

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Florence is the capital of the Tuscan region in Italy. As the home to many awe-inspiring Renaissance masterpieces, ancient cobblestone streets, and the iconic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, this city is undeniably alluring. Use this travel guide to Florence, Italy as your leading light while visiting this magical city.

Visit Famous Art Masterpieces In Uffizi Gallery Of Art

The Uffizi is home to famous art pieces from the Renaissance era. If you have ever taken an art appreciation class you have probably studied at least one of the masterpieces in the Uffizi.

While in Florence, Italy seeing world-renown artwork at the Uffizi is a must.  I took an art history class and had access to the Uffizzi for three months. Needless to say, this was an incredible experience. Since the museum so popular, the key is to arrive early before the doors open to the museum and wait in line outside. Trust me, it is worth the wait.

Top paintings to see in Uffizi Gallery;

You can purchase a Uffizi Card by clicking here – Uffizi Card

Divulge in Ice Cream by the River 

You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t indulge in a scoop or two of gelato while visiting Italy. As a hub for activity and gelaterias, Florence is undeniably the place to eat gelato! While strolling the cobblestone streets enjoy the sweet and creamy dessert.

Read about my favorite places to get gelato in Florence, Italy in the link below.

The best places to get gelato in Florence.

gelato in Florence

Grab A Cup Of Coffee at Oblate Library

While it is tempting to experience Florence as a tourist some of the best spots can only be discovered off the beaten path. I visited Oblate Library for an Italian literature class. This library has some of the best views of the Duomo in the entire city. I can’t believe people casually grab coffee and study next to such dreamy views of the cathedral. The best part is you can too.

Duomo in Florence

The local library Marucelliana Library  (Biblioteca Marucelliana)

While we are on the topic of libraries, I am convinced this library might have been taken straight out of the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast.  It was complicated explaining to the woman at the front desk that I wanted to take a tour. After ten minutes of embarrassingly trying to speak broken Italian, she understood I didn’t have a library card but I wanted to look around. It was worth the awkward struggle.

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Wander around the outside the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) 

The Duomo is the centerpiece of Florence, much like the star on a Christmas tree.  The grandeur of the Duomo’s exterior continues to dazzle guests every year. It is hard to believe that such a structure was built hundreds of years ago because it has stood the test of time. Take a full lap around the Duomo and soak it all in.

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First time visiting Florence

Italy guide to Florence- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) 

Last day I visited Florence

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Purchase Florentine designed clothing

While in Italy I dressed like an Italian, and yes they have mad style. To join the trend I purchased a pair of Italian plaid pants and they became my most worn clothing piece over the next couple of months. European fashion is sleek and stylish. I had to jump on board.

Street Doing Vintage Couture – This vintage shop was a lucky find. One afternoon while strolling the streets of Florence I stumbled upon this gem.

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This picture was from Milian, but these are my Italian pants!

Coffee Coffee Coffee

Italy is where the cappuccinos are good, cheap, and available on every street. Add on a pistachio cream croissant too and you have yourself the ideal Italian breakfast.

Caffe Rosano – When I wanted to enjoy a cappuccino and watch the crowds admire the majesty of the Duomo I always went to Cafe Rosano.

Snag A Panini Or Slice Of Pizza

Pizza is the embodiment of Italian culinary achievement. The aroma of delicious panini’s and large slices of eggplant pizza fill the streets. Pizza places are on every corner in Florence, and while in Italy you must enjoy the savory goodness of Italian pizza.

I Raddi di Santo Spirito 

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Enjoying panini’s at I Raddi di Santo Spirito

Convent of Sant’Apollonia

This attraction might not be on your travel guide, but it should be. The Museo di Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia was once a convent for nuns. The nuns had the painting ‘The Last Supper’ committed by the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea del Castagno because they wanted something to admire while they ate dinner.

Andrea del Castagno was one of the most influential painters in Florence at the height of the Renaissance era for his naturalistic depictions of figures and his use of perspective. Although the fresco is hundreds of years old the colors remain vibrant.

Convent of Sant'Apollonia

Santa Maria Novella Church

In Italy seeing the inside of a church is equivalent to seeing an art museum. Santa Trinita Church does not disappoint with the vast amount of artwork and frescos plastered along the walls.

One day it was raining and I found myself in the prayer room of Santa Trinita. In the heart of this bustling city, this room is religious, quaint, and sacred. This tranquil church will have you confessing your sins and drooling over the ancient art.

Santa Trinita Church Florence, Italy

Santa Maria Novella Church Florence, Italy

San Salvi

The church San Salvi is located on the outskirts of Florence and is the old home to monks. Although Florence is a lively city inside the San Salvi is a tranquil sanctuary away from the crowds.

Stroll the piazza with the fake David statue (Piazza Della Signoria) 

This is not fake news the fake David is amazing. What I mean by the fake David, is the replica of the original David statue by Michelangelo. You will probably recognize the square as the set of several famous movies such as Room with a View. This piazza is where the original David stood.

Along with the large replicate statue of David, there are several other cultures from Greek mythology and history. Not to mention this piazza is a hub for eateries all around.

Palazzo Vecchio (town hall) 

Florence’s town hall is not your average town hall. Nope, most town halls do not have paintings secret paintings by Michelangelo. Yup, you heard that right. The town hall has ginormous murals demonstrating Florence’s history, behind one of the mural’s is one of Michelangelo’s earliest painting only discovered a couple of years ago.

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Hang out with Real David in the Academia

It would be wrong to exclude this famous masterpiece in any travel guide to Florence Italy. Ever since I was a little girl I have heard about Michelangelo’s masterpiece The David.

To be honest, since I was so familiar with the artwork I wasn’t expecting to be impressed. I had seen the David statue in pictures far before I ever flew to Italy. Yet, as soon as I walked through the entryway I stood in awe of the magnitude of the statue.

Michelangelo the David

Shop for fancy jewelry on Ponte Vecchio Street

Local artists, antique sellers, and goldsmiths craft fine jewelry for visitors all over the world. If you are looking to get a present for your mom this is the street to buy it on. Ponte Vecchio Street, which means ‘old bridge’, is a medieval stone bridge over the Arno river. The charming bridge is a great spot to view the Arno river and is a must-see while in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio Street Florence

Take a hike overlooking the city- Piazzale Michelangelo

The absolute best views of the city require some effort. After walking uphill for several minutes you will find yourself at Piazzale Michelangelo with a view of the duomo and mountains surrounding Florence, Italy.

These views are simply stunning. To give you a perspective this is where Kim Kardashian-West tied the knot to rapper Kayne West for a glamours destination wedding.

Florence- visit Italy

 Local flea markets

In my opinion, an excellent way to get to become familiar with a city is to wander around until you get lost. One afternoon I found myself just admiring the city streets when I stumbled upon the local flea market. There are many open-air markets in Florence. If you keep walking I am certain you will stumble upon a few.

Check out Mercato del Porcellino for all your leather goods and souvenirs.

Visit the old orphanage (Ospedale degli Innocenti)

The orphanage dates back to the early Renaissance period as a humanitarian effort on behalf of Florence’s abandoned children. The orphanage museum has several frescos, pretigious art pieces, and more that date back to this period.

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Take a tour of the Duomo’s interior

After spending three months seeing the outside of the Duomo once a week I finally decided to take the free tour of the inside. The simple interior contrasts the dramatic exterior of the Duomo. The inside of the church is so sacred and tranquil it will make even the non-religious feel spiritual. Be sure to look above the altar at the painting on the ceiling is a fresco called ‘The Last Judgement’ by Giorgio Vasari.

Motorcycles everywhere

The streets in Florence are tight. The sidewalk often bleeds into the streets. One morning I was bumped gently by a car. The man looked at me and said, “Sorry, I am sleepy this morning”. Thankfully, I wasn’t injured but the cars small to fit on the street. For this reason, motorcycles and mopeds are extremely common.

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The Pitti Palace

The Pitti Palace is home to world-famous masterpieces. Once owned by the wealthy Medici family this museum has artwork from the height of the renaissance revolution. Works from Rembrandt, Filippo Lippi, and many others will make any art lover swoon. While the paintings are simply breathtaking, don’t miss the sections on fashion and jewelry.

Travel guide Florence Italy-The Pitti Palace, Florence

Giotto’s Bell Tower

If you visit the Duomo you can miss Giotto’s Bell Tower in front of it. After purchasing a ticket, you can climb to the top of the bell tower. If you look closely in the picture below you will see people looking outside the tall windows of the tower. This is where visitors are allowed to visit.

Giotto's Bell Tower- Florence Italy

San Lorenzo Market

The San Lorenzo Market consists both of an outdoor and indoor section of the market. The indoor market, Mercato Centrale, has dried strawberries, limoncello, leather goods, parmesan cheese and more. It has everything you could need to purchase for Italian cooking and dining. My favorite fruity treat to purchase is dried strawberries. They taste like candy. The closest thing to compare it to is the American candy Twizzlers, but better. Additionally, the San Lorenzo Market is the location where I purchased the richest parmesan cheese to bring back to America. Fruit and veggies in Italy do not have the preservatives in them, like American produce, so you can rest assured you are getting the yummiest ingredients.

Travel guide Florence Italy-San Lorenzo Market FlorenceIMG_7314.jpeg

Walking upstairs you will find a food court with several eateries to order from. I found a place that sold delicious vegan burgers made with sweet potatoes and vegan mayo. The food court is a new hot spot for Florence residents to bring enjoy a date on a Friday night.

Street performers

Similar to many larger cities Florence has street performers. Not as regularly as a city like New Orleans, that is known for its sidewalk serenades but don’t be surprised if you start to hear a lullaby or two while strolling the cobblestone streets.

street performers in Florence Italy

Look for these street signs then go to CLET studio 

Ever noticed something unusual about the street signs in Florence? The French artist Clet Abraham is known around Florence for adding his art to street signs. After finding a few of his signs around Florence be sure to visit his studio.

IMG_9234.jpgClet Abraham art Florence, Italy

When it comes to Italian cities, it doesn’t get much better than Florence. Use this travel guide to Florence, Italy as your blueprint for making the most out of your Italy experience.

Other articles you may like: 

Everything Americans Should Know about Italy Before Living Abroad

A Chilly Fall Day In The Tuscan City Of Siena, Italy

7 Things NOT to do In Florence, Italy

 

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