If you are visiting Florence for a short break then there are certain things you definitely must see or do, these are my top 5 to help you plan your trip…
Hop-On Hop-Off Tour of Florence
The hop-on, hop off bus is a great way to see the whole city in 24 or 48 hours. You can see all the major sites such as the Duomo, Santa Croce, Ufizi, Piazzale Michelangelo and the Ponte Vecchio. It also provides expert commentary and you can of course hop on and off wherever takes your fancy. In the high season the buses run every 30 mins from early in the morning till late evening. There are 2 routes. One of the city centre taking about 1 hour for the full loop. The other route takes in the outer areas of the city and the beautiful village of Fiesole, taking about 2 hours.
It’s great value at about £22 for 24 hours, or £24 for 48 hours. You can also use your tickets on local buses. As the historic central part of the city is not accessible for buses there is a free guided walking tour included in the price.
This square is situated high above the south bank of the Arno river and offers amazing views of the city of Florence. Its quite a trek on foot particularly in the summer months when it gets very very hot (35+ when we were there in June). I would suggest you use the hop-on hop off-bus, both routes take in the Piazalle Michelangelo. It’s also where you can switch from one route to the other. Alternatively you can get the local bus number 12 or 13 or take a taxi. Its definitely worth it for those amazing views. As the name suggests the the piazza is dedicated to Michelangelo. There are replicas of some of his statues including the famous David (the original can be found in the Academia in the city centre) located in the square.
The central market is definitely a must for food lovers. It is huge with stalls selling fresh meat, fish, bread & pastries, fruit & vegetables. And then there’s my favourite – the deli stalls, with free tastings of Italian cold meats, pates and cheese. There are also pasta stalls with chefs preparing fresh pasta in glass walled kitchen to allow you to watch the experts at work. On the second floor is a vast food court serving pizzas, pastas, steaks, fish….. in fact every food you can think of freshly prepared and cooked. We were there at lunch time and it was packed with locals and tourists alike. The pizzeria in the market also makes my list of favourite places to eat in Florence (see the list here), and is perfect for a casual lunch. Outside the central market is a huge outdoor market specialising in leather goods, superb quality and great value.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Flore, better known as the Duomo, is a magnificent sight. It is situated in the heart of the city and towers over the streets of the historic city centre. The magnificent red tiled Dome designed by Brunelleschi sits atop the main cathedral which stands alongside the campanile or bell tower. You can climb both, but the queues are huge in high season even if you pre-book. Your best bet is to book a guided tour taking in the museum, Baptistry, the Duomo itself, including the 463 steps to the top!
The heat in the city of Florence can get quite uncomfortable in the summer months. A trip out to the village of Fiesole with its cooler temperatures can bring some welcome relief and the village also merits a visit in its own right. Fiesole is situated in the hills above Florence about 7 kms from the city centre.
The ride out to Fiesole passes through the most affluent residential suburbs of the city with beautiful renaissance style villas in lush gardens, with far reaching views over Florence and its surrounding hills. Fiesole has a famous archeological site with a 7th century BC temple, a Roman theatre and baths and a museum. If you are lucky you could see a live performance during the summer months. There are also some beautiful churches without the crowds of central Florence. There are a selection of restaurants and cafes available for a leisurely lunch with the stunning views of Florence. You can get to Fiesole on the hop-on hop-off bus or local buses from central Florence.
The Guestbook’s Comment: “This is just my top 5. There are so many things to see and do in Florence that you will never cover them all in one visit. Thats why I will definitely be returning in the future, but next time I will avoid the hot summer months.”