Ah, Florence! Powerful Medici and unfading masterpieces of the great Tuscan Renaissance masters, craftsmen and harmonious gastronomy. Florence is a “prism” through which it is pleasing to admire the picturesque Tuscan landscapes. When you get to this city, it seems as if Michelangelo, Giotto, Brunelleschi and Donatello are moonlighting with guides as we see their works everywhere – in museums and churches, and even just walking along the streets of the city. Florence is full of poetic grace and sparkling luxury, architectural jewels and echoes of history – this is an unfading diamond. Florence is incomparable in terms of beautiful views and historical sites. Most of the wonders of the city will require a day, or even more, to fully explore it.
We will begin the description of the sights of Florence with the main architectural pearl of the city – the Duomo, as the locals call it, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. This masterpiece and a real miracle of engineering, located on Cathedral Square, Piazza Duomo, was created by the project of the brilliant and ambitious architect Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi planned to build a cathedral that would accommodate all the citizens of Florence under his vaults – and at the time of the project, in the 13th century, there were 90000 of them! All the most famous Florentine masters of painting (Vasari, Giotto, Talenti, Di Cambio, Ghiberti, etc. took part in the interior decoration of the Duomo). By the way, Giotto and Brunelleschi rest in the cathedral.
Palazzo Medici Riccardi of the 15th century is a peculiar demonstration of the strength and wealth of the Medici clan. Located in the center of Florence, the mansion was designed by the family’s favorite architect – Michelozzo. The three-story building made of light rusty stone has a nice little courtyard decorated with medieval sculpture and lemon trees. The interior of the palazzo loudly declares the superiority of the Medici over other influential houses of the XV century. Magnificent ceiling frescoes and paintings are involuntarily breathtaking with their skill and scale. The Chapel of the Magi, dedicated entirely to biblical paintings, is singled out separately.
Galleria degli Uffizi is a 10-minute walk from Signoria Square. It’s easy to make a route to the art gallery on your own, you need to move towards the Arno River. The medieval palace is filled with valuable paintings by Italian and European artists. The founders of the art gallery were the Medici, thanks to their connections and welfare, they got real masterpieces. Uffizi proudly presents to its visitors works of Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Paolo Uccello, Raffaello Santi, Tiziano Vecellio and many others.
The Ponte Vecchio bridge or the Old Bridge is the most respected ferry across the Arno in the city of Florence. At the same time, it is its main decoration. The bridge was built in the XIV century and has survived to this day in almost unchanged form. By the way, the river and the Old Bridge that spread over it is the next stop of the walking route along Florence after the Uffizi Gallery. The bridge is original for several reasons: firstly, on both sides of the bridge, houses are located right above the water. Secondly, over the pedestrian arch in the 16th century, the Corridoio Vasariano corridor was built on, which laid a safe path from the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti.
The Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli) is an emerald pearl that is hidden from the eyes by the monolith of the Pitti Palace. Do not forget about the beauty of Italian nature. The huge park that covers Boboli Hill was laid out in the XVI century and served as a place for walks of the Duke of Tuscan Medici, his family and guests. The territory of the park has expanded every century, and now the green corner of Florence covers an area of 4,5 hectares. Boboli Gardens are striking in their layout and multifaceted content. Statues, fountains, grottoes, columns and even an imitation of an ancient amphitheater are skillfully intertwined with fragrant plantings. Traveling in this part of the city is full of unforgettable pleasure and relaxation.
There is the Italian tradition of Aperitivo which cannot be missed during any trip to Italy. In addition to the historic cafes mixing Negronis (the drink was born here in 1919), you’ll find wine bars, Italian craft beer pubs, and notable bartenders taking drinks to new dimensions in intimate, speakeasy-style outposts. Have a look at our picks for you of Florence’s best bars.
Manifattura Tabacchi looks a bit like chemistry lab, complete with Italian music from the ’50s. Italian theme emphasizes local spirits and liqueurs, classic drinks like Negronis and bellini. All drinks are served with olives and toasted chickpeas, while you can also order plates of old-school dishes like Tuscan ricotta and other.
A unique first impression at this bar is created by Renaissance pillars and vertical gardens. You may notice a vary of tools for the bartenders if you are lucky enough to snag a front-row seat to the molecular mixology, including micro garnishes, eccentric glassware, dry ice, and foamed ingredients.
Rasputin is an underground homage to speakeasy culture with the vintage couture to match. But it’s Florence’s first secret bar which should not to be confused with a speakeasy. The bar shares unique atmosphere, with a mood barred with elegance and mystery and candles at tables. It’s impossible to miss, but if you manage to find it first.
Loggia Roof Bar at Hotel Palazzo Guadagni
A perfect place to gaze at the rooftops of the historical buildings in the center of Florence and to enjoy the beautiful view of the Florentine Hills while enjoying local spirits. With great location in the Oltrarno area among historical and charming vibe, this is a brilliant spot for delicious cocktail or aperitif.
SE-STO on Arno
This bar is located on top of The Westin Excelsior which we suggested for your visit in our previous edition, it is both a cozy place and an excellent rooftop restaurant with panoramic view over entire Florence. The rooftop consists of an indoor restaurant and two terraces, one dedicated to the restaurant and one to bar.