Florence is one of the most charming cities in Italy, full of history, art and beautiful architecture, all with a small town feel. Although Florence may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of Italy, it will definitely be one of your favourites after you’ve visited and it will keep you coming back to experience its beauty, mystery and laid back lifestyle.
Everyone knows about the Renaissance, but learning about it in school and experiencing where it all began first hand are two entirely different things. Every corner you turn has a new story, an interesting fun fact and a gorgeous building or piece of art that cannot be missed. Being the birthplace of Renaissance also means there is plenty to do and see.
Florence is home to one of the most famous art galleries in the world, where many Renaissance masterpieces are housed. Hundreds of thousands of people visit Florence every year just to see the famous pieces by historical artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Botticelli, Giotto and Titian, just to name a few.
If you’ve ever been to Rome, you know the metropolitan chaos of it. Florence, however, feels much slower. Even though it’s a city, it just feels calmer than other famous tourist cities in Italy. Sure, there are cars and scooters trying to get from one place to the next, but the city centre is overrun by pedestrians who stroll the streets for fun to window shop, slowly enjoy a gelato, or take in a beautiful day sitting in a piazza while chatting and people watching.
Given its interesting medieval and enlightenment period history, there are plenty of hidden secrets and scandals in the city of Florence that makes it a treasure to be discovered. Take a tour and learn about how to the Medici family boosted the Renaissance period, or how Michelangelo was discovered, or even why Hitler decided not to destroy Ponte Vecchio in WWII. Florence has amazing secrets to uncover and the best part is that it is very well preserved city, where you will feel like you’ve been put back in time.
Florence rivals many other cities’ gorgeous cathedrals with its crowning jewel, the main cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Dating back hundreds of years with interesting controversies, the church is so grand that without knowing one thing about it, you stand in awe at its beauty. The colours of the natural green, red and white marble, the details intricately carved and designed and the sheer size of it will make you fall in love. As if that weren’t enough, everywhere you look you will see Gothic and Renaissance period architecture and can appreciate how the city makes a great effort to keep its authentic look, even with newer or renovated buildings. The many churches, important old places of government and even other noble families’ homes are proudly on display to admire and visit.
Historically, Florence has always been full of artists, scientists, specialists and eternal students thanks to the Renaissance. Over the generations of artists passing down their craft and the city’s existing creative reputation, artistic people have flocked to Florence from all over the world due to the creative energy that the city seems to emit so effortlessly. From street artists and painters, to jewellery and fashion designers, there are plenty of small creative businesses around the city with a supportive community to back them.
Florence is the capital of the region of Tuscany (although many make the mistake of thinking Tuscany is a city). The region of Tuscany with its famous rolling green hills, vineyards as far as the eye can see and delicious food, has plenty more to offer than Florence. From Florence you are in the perfect location to explore the region with short day trips to the countryside where you can go wine tasting, explore old medieval hilltop towns, rent a vespa or bike and enjoy the green scenery, take a cooking class at a gorgeous villa, or even help harvest grapes or olives for the season. Florence is the perfect place to stay while you explore.
Although it can be argued that Italy in general has amazing food and wine (this is true), it can be said that Florence/Tuscany is one who does it best. With both traditional dishes and modern chefs making classics with a twist, high quality, minimal ingredients are important. The flavours of the high quality ingredients make all the difference in the food and you will definitely be wowed with the care and passion that goes into each dish you eat while here.
New York and Milan are usually considered fashion capitals of the world, but most of the famous Italian brands actually make their home in Florence. With brands like Prada, Gucci, and Salvatore Ferragamo, whose factories and headquarters are here in the Florence area, Florence boasts great shopping and hosts many annual fashion events. Tuscany is known for its high quality leather, which is one reason why these fashion moguls are based here. Florence even has a fancy street similar to Rodeo Drive full of all the high fashion brands, so if fashion entices you, you have to visit Florence.
Although its a smaller Italian city, Florence is very cultured and has a pretty trendy food, art and culture scene. There are plenty of modern art galleries, new restaurants opening all the time with a variety of different styles and flavours, fashion events, temporary museums with rotating subject matter and new pop-up events happening frequently.
Plainly put, Florence is a magical place. We all think of Venice or Rome when we think of Italy, but if you’ve never considered Florence, or if you’ve juggled with making it a stop on your trip, you will definitely not be disappointed when you do. The energy is alive yet relaxed, the air is buzzing with creativity and there is beauty everywhere you look.