Florence, the city that is every culture lovers dream and the obsession of anyone who has had the profound joy of spending more than a day there. If you haven’t been to Tuscany’s capital, let me tell you that nothing can prepare you for the love you’ll feel for this beautiful city. From to-die-for food, to historic buildings and world renowned art, here are 10 reasons Florence is our eternal amore…
Florence is known as the “cradle of the Renaissance” for a reason, and it really shines through in it’s architecture. From the imposing yet stunning Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower, to the Bargello, there’s a beautiful building on every corner.
When the sun goes down in Florence, the fun goes up. There’s the hilarious karaoke bar with 1.5 litre cocktails loved by Contiki travellers, The Red Garter, the wild Space Electronic Disco, and countless cocktail bars with Italian’s starting impromptu dance floor session, PLUS every Piazza is filled with locals sharing a wine and chatting about the day.
It’s no surprise that Italian’s know their food, and some of the best of the best can be found in Florence. You’ll get amazing varieties of the usual suspects like gelato and coffee, but also find regional gems like Ribolitta and Schiacciata Fiorentina. Florence also boasts the best sandwich (AKA panini) shop maybe in the WORLD. Don’t believe us? All’Antico Vinaio is so popular they have two stores across from each other and both have lines down the block.
IF YOU LOVE ITALIAN FOOD: A THEME PARK DEDICATED TO FOOD IS OPENING IN ITALY & MAMMA MIA
The hidden gardens
Like any city, Florence can seem all bricks and mortar but don’t forget it was built by some of the most romantic people in history. Because of this, you will find jaw-droppingly beautiful gardens tucked away all across the city. Be sure to make time to relax in the Boboli Gardens (walk down the hill instead of driving) or Giardino delle Rose. Bonus points if you bring a picnic!
Florence dates back to 59 BC and has always been an important region for the Roman empire and people of Italy. As we mentioned, it’s the birthplace of the Renaissance and has seen countless famous philosophers, artists, aristocrats and royalty call it their ‘casa’. Does Leonardo da Vinci ring a bell? Ever heard of the Medici family? How about Michelangelo or Donatello (and not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle variety)? All hailed from Florence, and their achievements and fame have left a mark on the city that still lingers today.
Speaking of Michelangelo, his famous ‘David’ statue is perfectly naked and at home in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, and that’s just one of the many precious artworks that are kept there! There are a number of truly amazing galleries and museums in Florence, but if you don’t have time to see them all, the works of Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello are all on display in the Uffizi. There’s also AMAZING street art in Florence. Truly, it’s a must-stop destination for anyone who appreciates beauty.
Watching the sunset over Florence while the cityscape is reflected in the still waters of the Arno river is a scene you will never, ever forget. Take a walk along the river and let the view come to you. Everywhere you turn in Florence is beauty, but a trip up to the lookout at the Boboli Gardens will show you an almost birds-eye view of the terracotta rooftops and impressive church spires.
The hub of the community in Italy has always been the local Piazza’s, and it’s no different in Florence. They come alive after dark (and church) and it’s where the locals go to swap stories, meet for meals and just hang out! If you love people watching you’ll want to dedicate an afternoon to a good crowd browse in Florence’s three most popular squares: Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza della Signoria and Piazza di Santa Croce.
The ease of getting around
Many cities, especially older one’s like Florence, are confusing labyrinths that only a local could navigate. But Florence is different! For such a large city it’s surprisingly easy to get around and all the top spots are within a 10 minute walking distance of the centre. Having the river bisect the city is also helpful in getting your bearings and keeping you on track as you tick off the sights.
Did you even come to Italy if you don’t go home with divine leather goods? Florentines have mastered leather craft over the centuries so if you’re going to buy an iconic handbag that will last you a lifetime, this is the place to do it. Head to the San Lorenzo markets to browse endless stalls of leather goods and souvenirs, then if you’re feeling particularly flush, work your way back to Piazza del Duomo through the side streets and find everything from H&M to Chanel. We take no responsibility for your bank balance!
Convinced you need to give Florence your full attention and spend a good few days here? You’re in luck! Contiki’s new Independent Insider trips spend a minimum of 3-nights in every single destination, Florence included.