From world-leading art galleries such as the Uffizi to some of Italy’s finest food, Florence is an unbeatable destination.
Birthplace of the Renaissance, one-time home to Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, and an Aladdin’s cave of artistic masterpieces, Florence is a cultural powerhouse. From world-leading art galleries such as the Uffizi to timeless masterpieces including Michelangelo’s David, via some of Italy’s finest food, Florence is an unbeatable destination.
Florence was not built for the car, and you’ll find it’s much easier to get around by bike or on foot. This is a compact, walkable city, especially if most of your sightseeing takes place in the Centro Storico.
Florence’s public transport system is based around its buses, easily recognisable by their colours – orange, purple or blue. Tickets are priced according to a timing system. A single ticket valid for 90 minutes costs €1.20; a two-ride ticket €2.40; a four-ride ticket €4.70; and a day ticket €5.
Another option is to buy a Firenze card, which costs €72, lasts for 72 hours and includes access to many of the city’s most famous museums. It also allows you to travel on buses.
There’s also a single tram line from Santa Maria Novella train station in the centre of Florence to Scandicci, south-west of the city. Bus tickets are valid on the tram.
There are always plenty of taxis doing the rounds but they cannot be flagged down – you need to go to designated ‘taxi stations’.
The Duomo: for history
The area around Florence’s famous cathedral is packed with historic and cultural sights. The Duomo itself is a Renaissance masterpiece, begun in 1296 and finished 140 years later. Other iconic sights nearby include the Galleria dell’Accademia, home to one of the world’s most famous works of art in the form of Michelangelo’s David, and the Palazzo Vecchio, the centuries-old town hall that remains the seat of political power in Florence. The Leonardo da Vinci Museum, dedicated to the work of the great man, is also within walking distance of the Duomo.
The Oltrarno: for artisan workshops
Out of sight of the tourist crowds that throng the city centre, the Oltrarno neighbourhood, across the Arno River to the south-west, has been quietly going about its business as the engine room of Florence’s formidable artistic output for centuries. It’s steadily being gentrified, much to the displeasure of locals, but it’s still very atmospheric, with cobbled streets dotted with jewellers, woodcarvers and other artisans’ workshops. This part of town is also home to several iconic buildings, including the glorious Renaissance architecture of the Santo Spirito, the grand Palazzo Pitti and Piazzale Michelangelo with its panoramic views over Florence.
Piazza della Signoria: for art galleries
This single square is deemed to be the cradle of the Florentine Republic, and, by extension, the Renaissance. However, its cultural significance is by no means confined to the distant past. Its Uffizi Gallery is one of the finest art galleries in the world, with countless priceless Renaissance works including Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi and Annunciation, and Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo. The Bargello, home to masterpieces of sculpture, is also in this neighbourhood.
Time zone: Central European Standard Time (GMT+1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT + 2)
Language: Italian, but English is widely spoken.