Florence is the cradle of the Renaissance and even by Italian standards, it’s a timelessly beautiful city. Backed by the powerful Medici family, its boundless love of art has seen it remain at the top of essential cultural experiences in Italy for centuries.
To look at the city, little has changed since its Renaissance heyday. Set against the backdrop of the elegant Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence is a city of mazy, narrow passageways, ornate palaces, great domes and small age-old chapels. Its historic centre is a Unesco World Heritage site, home to treasured sights including the 13th century Pitti Palace and the Church of Santa Croce, famous for its Giotti frescoes.
Climb the stairs of the Duomo to the cupola, and panoramic views of the earthy-red rooftops of the city reveal themselves, all the way to surrounding Tuscan hills and the vineyards of Chianti.
Next, on to the art. It’s in the blood of Florence – and the Florentines – running through the veins of the city, from gallery to gallery. You can view Florence as a collection of world-class individual museums or as one whole open-air museum.
Visiting the Uffizi is essential for any holiday to Florence. Arguably, it’s the most famous gallery, home to a globally-celebrated collection of masterworks by da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli and many more illustrious names. Michelangelo’s David takes centre stage in the Galleria dell’Accademia, while the six museums of Pitti Palace house much of the Medici collection. Bargello National Museum was once the city’s prison and now exhibits its most important collection of Renaissance sculptures.
The visual feast curated by the galleries may satisfy the eyes, but the stomach needs something more tangible. Dining out – that’s the other great joy of a holiday in Florence. You’ll have the pick of the Tuscan countryside on your plate. That’s whether you choose to eat at a little family-run trattorie tucked away in the side-streets of San Frediano or a chic 3 Michelin-starred restaurant like Enoteca Pinchiorri.
If you’re a major Italian city, being a style capital comes with the territory. Florence is no exception; it’s the nation’s leather capital, renowned for the high-quality of its workmanship. The best place to shop for leather is around Santa Croce. For luxury brands, it’s no different. All the Italian designers – from Versace to Prada – can be found here, along the Via Calzaiuoli and the Via de’ Tornabuoni.
When booking with Lightfoot Travel, your luxury holiday to Florence will be tailor-made to meet your specific needs. Our specialists will also offer impartial advance on the best luxury and boutique hotels.
- Capital: Rome
- Main Language: Italian
- Population: 60.78m (2011)
- Time Zone: GMT +1
- Currency: Euros (EUR)
- Best time to go: Cities – Spring and Autumn; South – Summer; Alps – December to late March.