Is there more magical and romantic piece on Earth than Tuscany? This part of Italy is definitely one of the places you need to visit. The capital of this Italian region is Florence. Famously dubbed as ” the Athens of Italy” because of its cultural and artistic importance to the country. The name, Florence, was given by Julius Ceasar and it means “the city of flowers”. This city is settled by the river Arno and spreads all the way to the Tyrrhenian sea. The heart of Tuscany, Firenza, is the city of wine, cheese, art and beautiful sunsets.
Remember the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”? Since I first saw this movie, I started dreaming of Florence. I imagined it sunny, warm and friendly, with amazing tastes and aromas. “I eat a hot grape from the market, and the violet sweetness breaks open in my mouth. It even smells purple.” That Diane Lane’s famous line from the movie was on my mind when I was driving through Tuscany. It really smelled purple. When I visited this glorious city, I realized I’m living my dream and that Tuscany is all I was dreaming about.
There are so many things to do in Florence starting from visiting famous art galleries and famous royal palaces, till the amazing food and wines you are going to taste here. There are some moments that you need to feel during your stay in Florence, like listening to Italian language spoken by real Italians, watching people on the streets trying to learn how to live like them, watch the sunset on Piazzale Michelangelo and spending the evening with your friends by the Arno river under the Ponte Vecchio.
These are just some basic things to do and see in Tuscany, and if you love art, wine, and delicious food, Florence is one of the top places to visit in Europe and one the most important historical destinations in Europe.
The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence, Italy
Galleria Degli Uffizi
One of the places you need to see in Florence is Galleria Degli Uffizi, one of oldest and the most prestigious art museums in the world. Besides Galleria Degli Uffizi, another important gallery and museum are Galleria dell’Accademia. If you are planning to visit one of these galleries, book your tickets in advance. Otherwise, you will be standing in the row for a long, long time, especially during the spring and summer season and on weekends. Florence is the best city in Europe when it comes to art and art galleries. Here you can see paintings and sculptures by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Goya, Rubens, Velázquez, Rembrandt, El Greco and the other great masters.
TIP: You can skip the line at the Uffizi if you purchase the ticket before hand so you don’t have to wait for long. There are so many things to see in Florence after all!
Visit Piazza Della Signoria
If you are traveling as a part of a group or even when you are your own travel guide, the square is one of the first places you are going to visit. Piazza Della Signoria and the whole historical center of the city is under the protection of UNESCO. When you enter into the L-shaped square you will feel like you have entered into the museum. Where ever you look around you will see masterpieces of Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez, Rembrandt, El Greco. On the Piazza del Signoria, around the Neptune’s fountain, there are numerous statues and pieces of art that together make the Loggia Dei Lanzi, adjoining the world famous Uffizi Gallery.
The main building in the square is Palazzo Vecchio. This palace was the home to Florentine rules and today it is the city hall. During the history, this building had changed its name many times – Palazzo del Popolo ( People’s Palace), Palazzo Dei Priori ( Prior’s Palace), Palazzo Ducale ( Duke’s Palace). Today’s name, Palazzo Vecchio was given after the Medici family moved to their new palace, Palazzo Pitti, by the river Arno.
While you are enjoying the surroundings and the beauty of Palazzo Vecchio, you think you are looking at the best of Florence. But your adventure is just starting. Take a moment and enjoy listening to Italian music, practice it and live the moment. This square is always full of people, walking and enjoying the scenery.
Enjoy Tuscan food and take a cooking class!
Italy is one of the best travel destinations in the world when it comes to food. There are so many different dishes you need to taste. There are numerous variations of pizza, pasta, and lasagna that every tourist need to try. The most famous dishes of this region are Schiacciata, Cantucci, Zuppa di Fagioli, Panzanella, gelato, Ribollita, Pappardelle with cinghiale sauce, Olive Oil, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, Lampredotto and so on!
I have always dreamt of learning how to cook like real Italian woman. Is there a better way to do it than taking a cooking class at the Tuscan farm or household. If you decide to take this class, you will be learning from Italian grandmas, the world greatest chefs and using the ingredients that are coming from the local market or from the gardens of the farm. After all, spending some time learning how to cook, eating amazing food and meeting new people is the best way to spend a pleasant afternoon in Tuscany.
Go to a local market
Going to a local market is the most amazing and fun thing you need to do during your travels. When you are planning your trip and thinking what to visit in Florence, do not forget to add Mercato Nuovo to your list. This market is also known as Loggia del’ Porcellino, because of a copy of a bronze wild boar by Pietro Tacca originally made in the sixteenth century. Why is this statue so important? Well, there is a popular tradition that rubbing the nose of it will bring you the fortune and you will come back to Florence. Another thing you need to do after rubbing the nose is to put a coin in the mouth of the boar and make a wish. If your coin tumbles through the grate whence the water flows, your wish will come true. The original of this statue you can find at Palazzo Pitti.
Besides doing this superstitious thing, here you can buy all sorts of goods, like clothing, shoes, jewelry, bags, food, fruit etc. This is the new market in the city and the old one, Mercato Vecchio, was located at today’s location of Piazza Della Republica.
Visit Duomo Cathedral
Another thing you need to do or places to see in Florence is Duomo Cathedral. Florentine cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore or simply, Duomo – an absolute architectural masterpiece. The name “Duomo” comes from Latin expression “Duomos Dei” which means “the house of God”. Santa Maria del Fiore is the fifth largest cathedral in Europe, with the length of 153 meters. The construction began in 1296, but considering that building of the dome was so complex and hard to build, the cathedral was finally finished 173 years later, in 1436.
Duomo is one of the greatest tourist attractions and one of the most amazing places to visit in Europe. The fact that you are standing in front of the 800 years old building takes your breath away. Just imagine the scene of its constructions and think for a moment that this building is here in front of you today.
Take a walk along the Ponte Vecchio
When you think of Tuscany and what to see in Florence, the first place you think of is Ponto Vecchio. This bridge is one of the most photographed and one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The old bridge” was built in 1345, on the narrowest point of Arno river. If you decide to take a walk along this bridge you will have the opportunity to visit numerous shops here. It is considered that these shops were here since the bridge was constructed. The reason why so many shops are located here is very simple. If the shops were on the river, on “no man’s land”, the owners didn’t have to pay the taxes to the city and government. Today, here you can find shops owned by jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir sellers.
Visit the Chianti region
If you are wondering what is the best place to visit in Italy to taste the best wine in the world, visit the world famous region in Tuscany, the Chianti. You have probably heard of Chianti wine. Well, this is the place where it is made. Spend a day or maybe a week on the Tuscan estate, in vineyards, picking grapes and making wine in a traditional way. At the end of the day, take a glass of Chianti wine and enjoy the sunset. This region of Tuscany is the perfect choice for a holiday and romantic destinations in Europe.
Visit Palazzo Pitti
This enormous Renaissance palace is one of the best places to visit in Italy if you are history and art fun. The palace was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi or his student Luca Fancelli for the powerful and ambitious Florentine banker, Luca Pitti. He wanted to build a palace that will be more beautiful, bigger that the palace where lived the ruling family of Florence, the Medici family. He died in 1472 before the construction of the building was finished. In 1539, Medici family bought this palace. Since then, this palace was the residence of the Great Duke of Florence and Medici family.
This palace is located on the south side of the Arno river, near to Ponte Vecchio. Today, this is a huge art gallery that consists of 7 museums. There are 140 rooms open for visitors. Besides Uffizi Gallery and Galleria Della Accademia, here you can also see the masterpieces of the great artist like Titian, Raphael, and Rubens.
Go cycling and explore the city
Florence is not the big city. It plays an important part in the historic, artistic and cultural center of Italy, but the city is not that big itself. So, one of the best things to do in Florence, if you want to explore the city and see all these cute little streets is rent a bike! Renting bicycles in Florence is not that expensive and it is one of the best ways to explore the entire city, especially during spring and summer. This is also perhaps a cheaper alternative to travel around the area and see the best of the city on your own!
Visit the Basilica di Santa Croce
The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence and the biggest one in the world. This building is the pride of the city. Here are buried some of the most important Italians of all time, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, composer Rossini.
This basilica is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell’Itale Glorie). Because of this, Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most historically important and one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
For the end of the day spent in Florence, take a walk to Piazzale Michelangelo. On your way to this panorama point, you will enjoy the beautiful scenery full of Tuscan villas and vineyards. When you get to the Piazzale Michelangelo, you will be amazed. The view from here is one of the best in the world! You will see the whole city of Florence embraced by the red sky. If you are wondering what to see in Europe? This view is one of the things you need to! You will always remember that evening you spent watching the sunset and drinking wine with your friends.
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are so many things to do in Florence, art galleries and museums to visit and delicious dishes to taste. Millions of people come to Italy every year knowing exactly what they want to see in Italy. But what can you see in Florence? Well, this list consists of places to visit and things to do in this Italian city. These are just some of the amazing thing you can experience during your stay here. Florence is a perfect travel destination for a romantic or weekend getaway in Europe.
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- Which things to do in Florence you’d like to try when you visit?
- Let me know in the comment section below!
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