10 Things You Must Do When Visiting Florence
Cobblestone streets, history, shopping and homemade pasta galore…yes that’s Florence! Florence was my first European vacation five years ago, so perhaps I’m biased but it remains my favorite European city today as I truly love how walkable, quaint, and charming it is! Florence is the heart of the Tuscany region with endless things to do so let’s go over my favorite ten things to do when visiting Florence.
By Kristine Forbes
Piazzale Michelangelo should not be missed! This is my all-time favorite city skyline view! Located south of the historical center, across the Arno River, Piazzale Michelangelo can be reached by foot or by taxi...the walk does endure a steep uphill climb. I personally enjoy the walk from the historical center, along the picturesque river. There are different points to stop along the way and catch your breath and take in the sights. When you reach the top be prepared for breathtaking views! If your trip allows for it, I’d recommend visiting once during the day and again at sunset/night.
Climb the Brunelleschi Dome! While entering Santa Maria del Fiore or the “Duomo” is free and merely requires you to wait in line…the Dome climb requires tickets with a scheduled time slot. If you’re visiting in the summer and trying to avoid some of the midday heat, I’d recommend booking a time in the morning or at sunset. We climbed the 463 steps at 9am (no elevator in case that wasn’t obvious). Along the climb you will reach the base of the cupola which puts you inside Santa Maria del Fiore along a walkway to admire the painted ceiling. After this short break, it’s up to the top to take in those impressive city views!
Giotto Bell Tower
Climb the Giotto Bell Tower. The bell tower is located next to the Duomo and is another great option for city views. This also requires a ticket for entrance but no time reservation, merely first come first served. While both climbs provide city views, the bell tower climb is unique as you get to look directly at the dome from a different viewpoint. This climb is slightly less rigorous with only 398 steps and allows for more places to stop, rest and take in the sights.
The Accademia Gallery
The Accademia Gallery is an art museum most famous for…you guessed it, that chiselled man, the Statue of David! Carved from a single piece of marble, seeing the Statue of David up close was breathtaking. Make sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time as they do sell out or book a guided tour for entrance.
Farmacia Santa Maria Novella
Visit the Farmacia Santa Maria Novella, the oldest Farmacia in the world. Now you may be asking why do I need to visit a Farmacia while in Florence? One of the most fascinating things I learned on my guided walking tour of the city was how the Farmacia played a major role in the history of Florence. The Farmacia is more than just a perfume shop, selling additional items such as lotions, scrubs and soaps. The story behind the shop and the perfumes dates to Catherine Medici who was from Florence but set to marry a King in France. Catherine wanted a smell, a reminder of Florence to take with her on her voyage to France and commissioned the first modern perfume to be invented. In addition, rose-scented water was also created to clean oneself and both original recipes can be purchased here today.
Boboli gardens are located behind the Pitti Palace and are the largest gardens/park in Florence. Once home to the Medici family, this park now serves as the largest green in Florence, home to fountains, statues, caves and trellis walkways. If you have plenty of time you can always bring a picnic lunch to enjoy amongst the luscious greenery!
Visit the Ponte Vecchio or “the old bridge” found on the Arno River. This bridge stands out from the others for its beautiful exterior colors, the jewelry shops and for being a pedestrian bridge. Of course, you should spend time walking over the Ponte Vecchio, but make sure to visit one of the neighboring bridges. The views of the Ponte Vecchio are lovely during the day and at night once it’s lit up!
Shop, shop and shop some more! Florence is known for leather goods. Leather goods can be found in boutique storefronts or in various “leather markets” which are outdoor stalls. My personal favorites are Misuri located in the Santa Croce square for purses and wallets, Madova and Martelli for leather gloves located on either side of the Ponte Vecchio, Davide Cerasi Leather Boutique for leather jackets along the Arno near the Ponte Vecchio and Rive Gauche Shoes for handmade leather shoes across the Ponte Vecchio. The leather markets are great to hunt for a great keychain, coin purse, passport wallet and other leather souvenirs.
Enjoy the Local Cuisine
You are in Italy after all, and the food is unbeatable. I learned that Italians eat at least one of the 3 “P’s” every day… pizza, pasta and panini. There is no shortage of options, you can find some of the best Italian you will ever eat in Florence! I may be biased but there were no bad snacks or meals here.
Grab a Drink!
Yes, I know where your mind went…straight to the wine! But Italy is known for its fabulous morning cappuccino, afternoon Aperol Spritz and yes, of course, wine! We would wander the streets until we stumbled upon a place, we wanted to grab a drink. While grabbing a drink may not register as a thing to do on your itinerary, aperitivo is a pre-dinner snap and drink and a very classic activity for Italy.
About Kristine Forbes
Hi, I’m Kristine, New England girl born and raised in Connecticut, and lover of all things fashion, family, and travel! I am an accountant by day and all things travel by night. I got married in 2017 to my amazing husband Kevin, who is of course my favorite travel partner and traveling is a passion we love and share together. Friends and family always refer to me as the world traveler and ask where the next adventure is and in 2021, I decided it was time to create a travel blog to share my trips, experiences, recommendations, and thoughts to help make travel planning less stressful and more enjoyable for other travel lovers! My biggest piece of advice to new travelers is always…Book the Flight!!!
Travel Blog: https://kristinestravelingpassport.com