A picturesque city full of iconic art and architecture, Florence simply oozes romance, luxury and enchantment. The birthplace of the Renaissance movement, Florence (or Firenze, as it is known to locals) still retains much of its historic beauty, leaving visitors with the feeling that they’ve travelled back in time to see a piece of Italy during one of its most important periods. With so much beauty waiting to be seen, it’s well worth a visit – which is why we’ve put together a list of our favourite places to see and things to do in Florence.
See the Renaissance art at Galleria degli Uffizi
Florence is known across the world for its incredible contributions to the worlds of art and architecture, so its only fitting that the city’s most important gallery is home to the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art.
Contained within the stunning Palazzo degli Uffizi, the collection was given to the city by the Medici family in 1743 on the condition that it never leave Florence. Expect to see some of Italy's best-known paintings including Piero della Francesco's profile portaits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino and a room full of masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli.
Marvel at the iconic Duomo
Florence’s most iconic landmark has to be the breathtaking Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore – more commonly known as the Duomo. An incredible structure that was built over six centuries, the Duomo’s neo-gothic façade is as imposing and impressive as it is beautiful and intricate, and the interior is just as stunning.
The Duomo’s crowning glory has to be Filippo Brunelleschi's huge 15th century terracotta-tiled cupola, which is still the biggest of its kind in the world. Make sure to climb to the top, as well as ascending the Campanile, a three-floor, 414-step bell tower offering amazing views over the city.
Take a Trip to the Tuscan Hills
With its pretty architecture and the romantic River Arno meandering through its centre, there’s no denying that Florence is a truly beautiful city. If you’re looking for a more natural type of beauty though, try taking a day trip to rolling hills and charming villages of surrounding Tuscany.
You’ll be able to admire gorgeous nature and picture-perfect vineyards, as well as visiting quaint medieval towns and villages including Siena, Volterra, Montepulciano, Prato and Montalcino.
Discover the taste of Fiorentina
Florence’s food and drink is so well known for its excellence that the tag ‘Fiorentina’ has become synonymous with well-produced, high-quality and exceptionally delicious dishes.
One of Florence’s most renowned exports is the Fiorentina steak, known as bistecca alla Fiorentina. A classic Fiorentina steak traditionally comes from the Chianina cow, a rare breed which results in an incredibly delicious meat. There are a number of places across the city to try this dish, with Trattoria Marione and Osteria Caffe Italiano among the best.
If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, you’re in luck – Florence is also famous for producing some of the world’s best gelato. Head to Grom for amazing monthly specials including refreshing milk and fresh mint, or try Carapina, which uses only natural, high-quality ingredients and the finest seasonal fruit.
Watch the city’s artisans in action
As the birthplace of Gucci, Florence is naturally home to a number of luxury boutiques selling pieces from some of fashion’s biggest names. If you’re looking for something a little different though, head to Oltrarno, Florence’s incredible craftsmen's quarter.
The area is full of highly skilled artisans including handmade paper workshop Il Torchio, contemporary milliner Antonio Gatto and talented metalworkers and silversmiths Carlo Cecchi and Giuliano Ricci, who make elaborate ornaments and jewellery for Dior and others.