Renaissance art and phenomenal architecture meet high fashion on holidays to Florence
Florence is all about intriguing Medici history, Michelin-starred restaurants and museums that silently hold tight to prized works of art. As you make your second or third mouth-watering gelato stop of the day, strolling the exclusive jewellery shops lining Ponte Vecchio, or sauntering into the newly opened Gucci Garden you’ll start to see how history and style are merging in this architecturally rich city. The most ancient bridge in the city now trades on the allure of diamonds and the designer stores on Via Tornabuoni intertwine with 13th-Century palaces and the medieval Palazzo Spini-Fertoni. Florence holidays unveil Renaissance masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo’s graffiti on the walls nearby; vespas whizz through narrow streets in frivolous Florentine style and the steps up to the Duomo’s cupola or a stroll through the elegant 16th-Century Boboli Gardens deliver spellbinding rewards.
Just before dusk it’s time to get the camera out, as amber rays land on architectural Italian treasures – Duomo – Florence Cathedral, the Church of Santa Croce and the sculptures in Piazzale Michelangelo. There’s a golden time of day in Florence – la passeggiata. It’s a stylish affair, heralding the start of each evening, with everyone spilling out into fairytale piazzas to dress up, socialise and enjoy a campari sprtizer. Join this customary pre-dinner stroll for a real sense of what the Italians love – glorious chit-chat, spontaneity and the uniting of young and old. It’s the same harmony seen throughout our hand-picked Florence holidays – a city steeped in breathtaking history but not afraid of getting ever-so cosmopolitan. For a shift in scenery your passage out of the city takes you by foot into Tuscan countryside, or, less than an hour by high-speed train, to Pisa.
Whether you want a chic boutique hotel behind the Duomo or a 15th-Century building on the banks of the River Arno, give one of our Personal Travel Experts a call and we’ll craft your dream Florence holiday.
Best time to visit Florence
This beautifiul city is appealing year-round. Spring is ideal for sightseeing and strolling around the bustling piazzas and beautiful gardens. Summer is perfect for al fresco dining but it can get very hot and crowded. If you're looking to avoid the crowds and don't mind cooler temperatures then autumn and winter are ideal. Make the most of the quieter season by exploring the blissfully uncrowded galleries and museums at a leisurely pace, attend an opera or ballet, or shop in exclusive boutiques. In December the twinkling lights, Christmas markets and festive concerts make it a magical time to visit.
Florence holiday highlights
Tuscany’s capital is the birthplace of the Renaissance and you’d be hard pressed not to be bowled over by the old masters and intricate frescoes hidden floor-to-ceiling inside some of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Top of the list is the Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell’Accademia for Michelangelo’s ‘David and Botticelli’s Venus. The cultural trail continues with ancient bridges, palaces, churches and museums including Ghiberto’s Doors of Paradise, the Bargello and Brunelleschi’s Palazzo Pitti. And if you’ve already climbed the staggering Duomo, find an astonishing new viewpoint from the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower. The city centre is pocket-sized enough to wander around in a day, shops delight with hidden treasures, high street stores and luxury brands and dreamy medieval piazzas beckon for an afternoon of alfresco café dining with an espresso or Prosecco. As the sun goes down, expect show-stopping restaurants, renowned wine cellars and late night gelaterias. Piazzale Michelangelo is a hotspot for outdoor nightlife and panoramic city views, and an after-dark peek of the Duomo is a must for its haunting good looks.
Where is Florence?
The capital and biggest city in north-east Tuscany lies in central Italy about 90 miles northwest of Rome and just an hour by high-speed train from Pisa. It’s compact in size and surrounded by the olive groves and vineyards of the Tuscan countryside.
Florence is delightfully walkable. Its small size means you can walk from one end of the historic city centre to the other in less than an hour, although this doesn’t account for all the gelato shops and architectural gems you’ll want to stop at along the way. There’s no hailing a taxi here, but there are dedicated ranks and hop on/hop off buses to take you to all the major sights. Day trips to Pisa, Lucca and Siena are quick and easy by train from the city centre Santa Maria Novella station.
Food & drink
Authentic Italian gelato artiginale, that famous Florentine Chianina cattle T-bone steak, buttery truffle gnocchi and street-food pizzas… everything is mouth-watering and head-turning whichever way you look. Perhaps not the tripe, but it’s a local specialty that may be worth the try. The Italians are food and wine lovers, so look out for cafes with wood-fire ovens and home-style Tuscan food, restaurants with acclaimed wine cellars and word-of-mouth trattorias and osterias. Expect plenty of canoli and coffee breaks in pretty piazzas, sweet treats and aperitivo on Via Roma and Michelin-starred dining in Renaissance palaces. Go romantic by the Arno River, overlooking the Duomo or in the famed Piazza della Signoria and toast your night with an iconic local Chianti or classic Negroni.
Florence’s medieval streets are flooded with chic boutiques, traditional leather stores, high street fashion and antique jewellers. Via Tornabuoni is famed for its designer stores and the roads off of elegant Piazza della Repubblica have the high street fashion shops. You’ll find plenty of flea markets while wandering, selling everything from souvenirs to traditional leather goods, and high-end antique jewellers along the River Arno. Step back in time inside Santa Maria Novella Perfumery where 17th-Century cabinetry and beautiful frescoed walls are lined with irresistible perfumes, soaps and elixirs, and for an affordable but special souvenir of Florence, head to Il Papiro near Piazza Pitti to pick up exceptional rolls of marbled paper, cards and stationery. Owner Giannini still creates his iconic pieces in the open workshop out the back.
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