WHAT TO EXPECT
Climate: The best time to visit Florence is between May and September when warm weather ushers in art festivals and open-air dining. Do keep in mind that August is the hottest month with temperatures going up to 31.5 C. Freezing temperatures can show up in Florence from November to April while November being the rainiest month.
Cash/Credit: Credit cards are used everywhere in Florence. Cash is also being used widely and it is easier to use when making small purchases. Therefore, do keep a few Euros in cash with you wherever you go.
1. Getting around
2. Where to stay
We highly recommend renting out an Airbnb apart in Florence. They are beautiful, luxurious and is easily accessible.
Here’s the link to ours: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/plus/18210823
Here are a few other recommendations
Four Seasons Hotel
Overlooking the Giardino Della Gherardesca, this luxurious, palatial hotel is a 15-minute walk from the Florence Cathedral and 3 km from Renaissance art at Uffizi gallery.
USD 720/ LKR 133,000
The St. Regis
Set near the river, this opulent luxury hotel is a 10-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella train station and 1 km from Florence Cathedral.
USD 475/ LKR 88,000
Overlooking the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, this upscale hotel is a 6-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella railway station and 7 minutes’ walk from the iconic Duomo di Firenze.
USD 515/ LKR 95,000
The Westin Excelsior
In a genteel building overlooking Piazza Ognissanti, this refined hotel is a 7-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella church and an 11-minute walk from the storied Ponte Vecchio bridge.
USD 320/ LKR 59,000
Set 8 km from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, this posh hotel in a 19th-century villa is 7 km both from the Ponte Vecchio and from the Galleria degli Uffizi.
USD 595/ LKR 110,000
Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo
This grand mansion hotel sits across from the Duomo di Firenze and is an 8-minute walk from both the Uffizi Gallery and the 13th-century Palazzo Vecchio.
USD 200/ LKR 36,000
Beside the Arno river, this high-end all-suite hotel owned by the Ferragamo family is a 1-minute walk from Ponte Vecchio, the iconic bridge, and 3 minutes on foot from the 16th-century.
USD 525/ LKR 97,000
Set along the Arno river near the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge, this plush hotel in the Oltrarno quarter is surrounded by Renaissance buildings. It’s 12 minutes’ walk from the 13th-century Duomo.
USD 330/ LKR 61,000
Source : https://www.luxuryhotelsguides.com/Luxury-Hotels-Florence & Wikipedia.
*All above amounts are approximate figures with foreign exchange rates from Oct 2020.
3. Where to eat
Established in 1977 by Stefano Bondi, this is one of the best places that serves delicious Tuscan Cuisine in the heart of Firenze. This is a must visit if you ever visit Florence. We are crazy truffle fans so for us it was heaven on earth as these guys have a separate menu on truffle infused pasta dishes!
PS: It gets crazy busy here with long queues to get in, therefore it is better if you make a reservation to avoid disappointment.
I Due Fratellini
This place is the epitome of the Italian Food culture. Opened back in 1875, this tiny sandwich shop specializes in bread filled with a combination of fresh local ingredients. Don’t forget to try their prosciutto and truffle panini with a glass of wine by the side of the road. You won’t regret it!
Mercato Central, Firenze
The Mercato Centrale in Florence is located between via dell’Ariento, via Sant’Antonino, via Panicale and Piazza del Mercato Centrale. The Ground floor of Mercato centrale still hosts traditional vendors offering fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. The food court upstairs offers food on the spot, with 500 seats to choose from. Here are some of the best places you can visit inside the market for some mouthwatering food.
You can taste the finest, seasonal black and white truffles in dishes like pasta, salads, sandwiches and various spreads. It will make you fall in love with truffle.
What is a trip to Italy without enjoying a delicious freshly made pizza? You can enjoy a perfectly crispy fresh wood oven baked pizza made with the best flour, fresh tomatoes, and melted chunks of mozzarella cheese!
The perfect place to enjoy both classical and creative dishes made by the Genoese pasta maker. Do not miss out on the unusual sweet and savory combinations served at Pasta Fresca.
Lampredotto is a traditional sandwich, only to be found in Florence and made of Beef tripe. You can watch the maker, as he creates this uniquely delicious sandwich.
Trattoria Del Pannello
This is one of Florence’s oldest restaurants dating back to the 1400s. They are famous for their delicious antipasto which can be enjoyed with a glass of wine during late evenings before heading out for a proper meal.
If you’re looking for that gourmet take on traditional trattoria eats, then this is the place for you! Run by an Austrian Royal family, the space boasts the perfect ambience for a romantic night out with candle lit tables and deep red wines served in beautiful glass decanters. Don’t forget try out their truffle and mushroom specialties. It is advisable to make a reservation before heading out.
Borgo San Jacopo
Are you looking to have a Michelin starred experience while taking in the views of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence? Then this is it guys! Part of the Ferragamo-owned Hotel Lungarno, Borgo San Jacopo sits right on the south bank of River Arno.
Northern Italian chef Peter Brune and his well-honed techniques and a large dose of creativity turn ingredients such as humble potatoes into stars; one of Brunel’s signatures dishes, in fact, is spaghetti di patate. Some dishes (pici pasta with wild boar sauce) come straight from a classic Tuscan culinary manual; others are more off-piste.
*check out @girlinflorence and @italyfoodprnfirenze for more food inspiration on Instagram
Source: https://www.timeout.com/florence/restaurants/best-florence-restaurants & https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-restaurants-in-florence
4. What to do
Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce
Santa Croce, rebuilt for the Franciscan order in 1924 by Arnolfo di Cambio, is the burial place for the great and good in Florence. This includes Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei. There is immense artistic wealth to be explored at Santa Croce. This includes beautiful frescoes designed by Gaddi (1380) and Giotto.
Trip to Piazzale Michelangelo
A visit to Florence should definitely include a trip to this beautiful place. It offers magical views of the Florence skyline during anytime of day. But we recommend you visit during sunset as it is truly magical, and you would never regret it.
Tip: Take a bottle of wine and some food so you can sit an enjoy the views of the magical setting sun. Also, as this not in the historic center of Florence we suggest you take a cab up there. You can easily catch a cab back to city as there are many parked up there.
Visit the Duomo Santa Maria Del Fiore
The prominent landmark of the Florentine skyline, and the third largest church in the world. Florence’s cathedral stands tall over the city with its magnificent Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, with the baptistery right across. It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo.
Tip: If you’re planning to take a few clicks in front we suggest you head there around 7.00 am as it gets pretty crowded during later in the day. Also entrance to the cathedral is free.
Visit the Museums
No trip to Florence is complete without a visit to the Accademia Gallery, the most visited museum in Florence. It is best known as the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture David.
The most famous art gallery in Florence is located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre. It is famous worldwide for its outstanding collections of ancient sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Modern period.
Tip: Florence is known as the “Cradle of the Renaissance” for its palaces, churches and museums, turning the city into an open-air museum that attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year. Hence pre-booking your ticket is highly recommended.
Here’s how you can pre-book your tickets,
By telephone, dialing the call center for state museums. The number is +39-055-294-883.
Online on the official website Or by arranging a guided tour through Viator For further information please head to: https://www.visitflorence.com/what-to-see-in-florence/booking-florence-museums.html
Roam Tuscany in one day
Famous for its wealth of art, history, striking landscapes and outstanding produce, Tuscany really does have the best of all worlds! This is something you shouldn’t miss out on.
Given the limited time we had, we booked a day trip to Tuscany on Viator which we highly recommend. The link is provided below for your reference and here’s a list of locations we explored in Tuscany.
Exploring the medieval town of Siena
Siena is located approximately 70 km away from Florence and the one-hour journey takes you through the vine covered hills of Chianti. It is best known for its colourful horse race called the Il Palio, conducted twice each year in the summer. And we happen to visit Siena the day after one of the races hence was lucky enough to witness the victory parades.
Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena
It is known to be the world’s oldest bank and the fourth largest Italian commercial and retail bank. You can walk around the square and snap a few clicks before heading on to the next place.
Duomo Di Siena
We think that the Siena Cathedral is one of the most beautifully designed churches in all of Italy. It has been designed in Gothic style of the medieval Italian era. From the time it was built, the church has been dedicated to the Roman Catholic Marian church and currently to Santa Maria Assunta. This place is definitely worth a visit.
Siena Piazza Campo
This is where the actual horse racing (the Il Palio) happens. Piazza del Campo is the principal public space of the historic center of Siena and is regarded as one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares. It is renowned worldwide for its beauty and architectural integrity.
Wine tasting and a delicious homemade Tuscan lunch
This was our favorite activity of the day! It was absolutely amazing. We were served with unlimited amounts of delicious Tuscan wines which pared well with all the home-made food that was served. We were given ample amount of time to walk around and explore the vineyards after the meal.
Exploring the beautiful town of San Gimignano
San Gimignano is an Italian hill town in Tuscany, southwest of Florence with uninterrupted views of the beautiful Tuscan Hills. We were given more than one hour to explore this beautiful town on foot. You can walk through the cobblestone alleyways up to the town square. There are many local shops selling art, cheese, wine, pottery etc. along these alleyways. Make sure to check them out, we are sure you won’t leave San Gimignano empty handed. Also don’t forget to try an ice cream from Gelateria Dondoli (which sells the best ice cream in the world).
Climb up the Leaning Tower of Pisa
This was the last stop of the day on our tour. And it was quite the experience going up the Tower. As you climb up, you can feel the tower slanting to a side. The views from the top were beautiful as the sun was setting in the distance.
Visit Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens is a historical park of the city of Florence that was opened to the public in 1766. This beautiful garden rises from the Florentine hills and offers incredible views of the entire skyline. The garden is made up of statues, benches and narrow winding paths making it a serene and relaxing setting waiting to be explored. You can buy tickets at the gates here.
Visit Ponte Vecchio
Known as an everlasting symbol of Florence, Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218.The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. There have been shops on Ponte Vecchio since the 13th century. Initially, there were all types of shops, including butchers and fishmongers, but today you will only find goldsmiths and jewelers selling goods. It is definitely worth a visit and just a 5-minute walk from the Boboli gardens.