Few cities in the world have surpassed the test of time without losing their character and traditional atmosphere. One of those is surely Florence. This city in the center of Italy still retains much of its magnificent cultural heritage, and the possibility to easily walk around the historic center of Florence makes it a great destination for an Italy vacation. Add to that the opportunity to experience life in one of Italy Perfect’s vacation rental apartments where you can relax, cook and live the Italian lifestyle.
Start your first day in the majestic Piazza della Signoria, home of the city council through the ages. Florence was a republic in an age of monarchies and fiefdoms and the statue of Michelangelo’s David in Piazza della Signoria symbolizes Florence as David facing the Goliath of the French monarchy. The spectacular Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia dei Lanzi and the several statues carved by the greatest Italian artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello and Cellini make this square an open-air museum. Take the time to visit the inside of Palazzo Vecchio and you will still be able to feel the atmosphere and pride of the Republic of Florence. For a casual lunch, choose a delicious sandwich (the best in Florence) or “schiacciata” and a glass of local wine from All’Antico Vinaio (Via dei Neri, 74/R) and then walk to the near Piazza San Firenze, where you can see the Bargello museum, the oldest public building in the city, from 1255. This marvelous museum is well worth a visit. The next stop is Piazza del Duomo, home of the monumental Santa Maria del Fiore, better known at “the Duomo”, the city’s main Cathedral. We recommend an audio guide to help enjoy the wonderful aspects of this landmark piece of architecture. Climb to the top of the cupola if you can, appreciating the construction of the dome; the first made without supports as it was constructed, and then enjoy a spectacular view of the city, for a magical and unforgettable experience. The Baptistry across the from the cathedral is quite wonderful for, among many fine works, scenes of Hell.
On your second day Piazza Santa Maria Novella is a good starting point. Here you can admire inside and out the church that dates back to 1279. Walk to the nearby fragrant Officina profumo farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (Via della Scala, 16), considered the oldest pharmacy and herb shop in Europe; their unique potpourri is most wonderful. Stroll back towards Piazza della Repubblica and stop for a casual lunch on via della Spada at Trattoria Marione or La Spada restaurants. After lunch walk towards the church of Santa Croce, a prestigious symbol of Florence where the “gods” of Florentine art, culture and science are enshrined. En route stop at deservedly famous gelateria Vivoli. Meander towards the Arno river and you’ll see the Ponte Vecchio bridge, another symbol of Florence with its jewelry shops. Close the day with a cocktail from the rooftop café of La Rinascente department store in Piazza della Repubblica. We like the amusingly named Pensavo Peggio restaurant at Via del Moro 51, which name means “I thought it would be worse!”;-)
For your 3rd day, provided there’s no rain, enjoy Florence’s lovely formal gardens with carefully organized greenery, fountains and sculptures: Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens) or the Giardino Bardini (Bardini Gardens). Choose a sunny afternoon for an invigorating walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a dramatic view of the city. Just behind the piazza is the beautiful Romanesque San Miniato church where, at 4:30 or 5:30 pm depending on the season, the church resonates with monks singing the ancient Gregorian chants.
Start your 4th day early at the Uffizi Gallery getting in before crowds. Book ahead; it is one of the most popular museums in the world, official booking site on this link. The visit will take a few hours; have a coffee or lunch at the café located inside the museum while enjoying a privileged view of Palazzo Vecchio. In the afternoon, it’s time to discover the other side of the Arno river, known as the Oltrarno. Walk to the characteristic Piazza della Passera and then to Piazza Santo Spirito, often animated by local markets and a vibrant nightlife. If you want to try some of the best ice cream in town and still have some energy to walk a bit more, head towards Piazza Tasso and look for La Sorbetteria (Piazza Tasso, 11r): so delicious! For lunch or dinner, experience the homey and characteristic atmosphere of La Casalinga (Via dei Michelozzi, 9).
Your last day starts at another well-known Museum: Galleria dell’Accademia (Via Ricasoli). The original statue of the David by Michelangelo and the dramatic Bound Slaves are worth contemplation For lunch, try Il Desco Bistrot (Via Cavour, 27) and then walk to Piazza San Lorenzo for experiences of many kinds: the church of San Lorenzo is home to the dramatic Medici chapel with sculptures by Michelangelo and you can’t miss the great market all around the church for leather, t-shirts, souvenirs, many things! Nearby is the Mercato Centrale, the Central Market, where downstairs you can enjoy the farmer’s market and upstairs a great Tuscan food court.
The compact size of Florence makes it easy to explore almost all the city on foot. While you’ll only scratch the surface of Florence in five days, its beauty and art is sure to make a lasting impression.
By Petar Milošević – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36617497