12 min read
After our Travel Expert Roxana spending 48 hours in Bucharest and bringing you some amazing travel recommendations, our Travel Expert Ellis takes you on a journey to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance.
What do you get if you add beautiful architecture, artistic excellence and a zesty atmosphere and times it all by a few too many gelatos? A holiday of your dreams in Florence!
If you are visiting this enchanting city, prepare to spend the weekend constantly scooping your jaw off the floor after it has dropped in amazement at the wonderful sights, sounds and tastes of Tuscany’s capital. Forbes has ranked Florence as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but don’t just take their word for it, check the magnificent metropolis out yourself!
Located in the centre of Italy on the banks of the River Arno, Florence’s history dates back to the Romans and in the middle ages it rocketed to prominence under the rule of the Medici family. Nicknamed ‘the cradle of the Renaissance’, Florence is one of Europe’s greatest art cities brimming with masterpieces from legends such as Michelangelo and Botticelli. Alongside the amazing museums and monuments are quirky shops, charming eateries and magnetic bars. This all lies within a walkable area, making Florence the perfect destination for a 48-hour trip – how convenient!
Just read this guide and you will be ready to say Buongiorno to Florence!
After a 2 hour and 15 minutes flight from London Gatwick, I land at Florence Airport, Peretola (the main airport in Florence ). I want to make the most of my time in the city so I jump in a taxi and head straight to the 4.5* Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio to drop off my bag.
Located in the historic center of Florence, just 7 meters from the Ponte Vecchio, this hotel is the ideal starting point for visiting, admiring, loving Florence and its cultural and artistic heritage.
On the 6th floor, you will find a breathtaking view to enjoy in the morning during breakfast and at sunset for dinner.
With an average rating of 4.5/5, I'm sure it's going to be a great stay!
Undoubtedly the best place to begin is at the Piazza del Duomo. In this square, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto's Campanile, and the Baptistery of San Giovanni will rival for your attention. Start by beating the queues to climb the 414 steps to the top of Giotto’s Campanile. Dating back to 1334 and 84.7m tall, this majestic bell tower offers amazing views over Florence and its sea of terracotta rooftops.
Photo Credit: @michele_disei
Next, get a closer look at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore which has become such an iconic landmark of the city that it is commonly referred to as The Florence Cathedral. A gem of Italian gothic architecture, the cathedral was completed in the 1400s after a whopping 200 years of construction. Its white and green marble façade is as quirky as it is mesmerising and the rust-coloured dome that crowns the cathedral is the largest masonry dome in the world. The Florence Cathedral, or Duomo, is free to enter so stick your head in and have a nosey at the exquisite decorations inside including statues of the apostles and Vasari’s fresco of the Last Supper.
Photo Credit: @wonguy974
Next door is the Baptistery which is decorated in the same inlaid marble style as its neighbour. It is the Baptistery’s imposing bronze doors that steal the show here. Otherwise known as ‘The Gates of Paradise’, the doors are embossed with large, impressively detailed reliefs of scenes from the Bible which glint in the Italian sun. The Baptistery is even more wonderful inside with golden mosaics adorning its walls and domed roof.
Photo Credit: @elisabettadigiugnoarthistorian
Squeeze in a visit to the nearby Cappelle Medicee or Medici Chapels to bring your morning to its end. The chapels contain the elaborate tombs of several members of the Medici dynasty, decorated with some of Michelangelo's most moving sculptures.
Photo Credit: @bargellomuseums
After that busy morning, you deserve to gorge! One of the best places to do this is at the Mercato Centrale. So much more than a food court, the Mercato Centrale is a veritable paradise for foodies. Under its wrought iron roof are 26 splendid restaurant stalls serving every Italian speciality you could dream of from delicious pizzas topped with Italian sausage to hearty bowls of tagliatelle drizzled with truffle oil. Since you’re on holiday, its only right to wash your meal down with a lovely glass of Tuscan red wine.
Photo Credit: @poppyfood
The tour continues with a visit to Florence’s famous Uffizi Gallery. Brace yourself for an afternoon of marvelling at arguably the world’s greatest haul of Renaissance art. Among the thousands of masterpieces held here you can find Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s The Holy Family and da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi. Understandably, flocks of tourists crowd to this museum to have a look at the treasures it houses so make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment and try and get ‘skip-the-line’ tickets if possible.
Photo Credit: @florentinelivelike_locals
Reward yourself for all that walking through the Uffizi with a scoop (or two) of gelato from the Gelateria dei Neri. You’re in Italy, it would be a crime not to! Ice cream in hand, meander over to the Basilica di Santa Croce to pay your respects to Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, all of whom are entombed in this incredible fresco-filled church.
Photo Credit: @digintothedish
I can safely assume that you agree it’s definitely time for a drink! Cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge, stopping of course for some Instagram pics with the river and sunset in the background, and you will quickly reach the Golden View Bar. Order an Aperitivo of chianti wine if you want to drink in true Florentine fashion.
Photo Credit: @natalija_abramova
Italians dine late so don’t worry about hurrying for your dinner. Neromo and Il Santo Bevitore are both nearby and both brilliant options. In the rustic, brick-lined dining rooms of Neromo, the focus is on simple but mouth-watering dishes of pizza and pasta.
Photo Credit: @tastentell.florence
In Il Santo Bevitore, you can delve deeper into Tuscan cuisine with meals such as mushroom risotto with guinea fowl and roast suckling pig on the menu. Il Santo is hugely popular with locals and in-the-know tourists so make sure to book in advance if this restaurant tickles your fancy. Both eateries are right on the doorstep of one of the best late-night haunts in the city, the Piazza Santo Spirito. Mix with the locals at an al fresco gig in the square or hop from bar to bar soaking up the friendly atmosphere.
Grab a fresh coffee and a cornetto (Italy’s version of a croissant, with a custard filling) and make your way to the Ponte Vecchio. Erected in 1345, this Roman arched bridge, lined with shops, was the only crossing not to be destroyed be fleeing Germans in the Second World War. Since its earliest days, the bridge has been a hub for small jewellery shops, and you will be dazzled by all the gold and precious stones that are being sold here today.
Photo Credit: @frascafu1977
From the bridge it is a lovely stroll to the Boboli Gardens which surround the Palazzo Pitti. This was once the private escape of the Grand Duke of Tuscany but nowadays, the immaculate lawns and enchanting fountains are open to all. Spend some time relaxing in the glorious gardens and admiring the Palace’s exterior before entering. In the Royal Apartments you will be blown away by the grandeur of 17th century furnishings, the lavishness of pieces of Roman glassware and works of gold.
Photo Credit: @priiscillaguerra
In the Palace’s Palatine Gallery, magnificent artwork by greats such as Titian, Veronese and Botticelli line the walls. Bring your morning to a close with a re-energising lunch at Olivia where you can expect a delightful ambiance and some of the most terrific food you’ll ever eat.
Photo Credit: @vally_1313
I hope you are fuelled up because you have an uphill walk ahead of you. Your final destination is the Piazzale Michelangelo but make sure to pass the Forte di Belvedere en route. The fortress was built to defend the city in 1590 during the reign of Grand Duke Ferdinand I. Take a break as you inspect the structure’s massive bulwarks and then pop your head inside to have a look at the temporary exhibitions that are hosted in the space.
Photo Credit: @valdelsanet
As you continue your way up, the views of the river will become more and more spectacular, and you should pass some ancient ruins reminding you just how rich the history of this city really is. Once you arrive at Piazzale Michelangelo, you will be greeted by an absolutely stunning panorama of the Florence skyline. Dating back to 1869, the square was designed by local architect Giuseppe Poggi and it is the best viewing point in the city. The Duomo dominates the cityscape with the Tuscan hills and distant mountains in the distance.
Photo Credit: @mg98photographer
Make your way back down to the waterfront for a glass of prosecco aboard a traditional wood barchetta as it travels down the River Arno. This is a relaxing way to end your day in style and as the sun begins to set, Florence becomes beautifully lit up creating a romantic atmosphere that you will remember forever.
Photo Credit: @lli57
For dinner, head to one of the oldest classic trattorias in Florence for an authentic culinary experience that will have you savouring every bite. With wood panelled dining rooms, smiling cooks in the kitchen, and specials up on a blackboard, this is a charming slice of relaxed Tuscan life that will make you fall even deeper in love with Florence. You may have had your last dinner in Florence, but the night is not over yet! Squeeze the most out of your remaining hours with a drink and a dance at one of the many bars that dot the Via dei Benci and end your holiday with a bang!
Photo Credit: @florentinelivelike_locals
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.
I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Florence and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Ellis King (Travel Expert at BeRightBack)
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