Pages

6 August 2015

Top 10 Places to Visit in Florence

As some of you may already know, I come from Florence, Italy. Although I am currently living abroad, I love to go back in the holidays. I don't just enjoy it because I get to see my family and friends; it's also because it's an amazing city to be in. When I go around the historic city centre I enjoy it just like the tourists around me. Since I left for the UK, I have learnt to appreciate things that I used to take for granted when I lived in Italy - the sun, the beauty you can contemplate everywhere you go and the atmosphere.
I love walking around the main squares of the centre, but wandering around the smaller alleys is the best bit. If you've never been to Florence, here are the top 10 places you must visit.

1 - The Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) 
Santa Maria del Fiore is a wonderful cathedral. It's amazing inside out, although my art history teacher used to say that the style of the façade was over complicated (seriously?). The frescos inside are stunning, especially Vasari's massive one covering the Dome from the inside. I definitely suggest climbing to the top, but don’t do it if you're claustrophobic (I don't like small spaces, but I did manage to get to the top of the Dome - I was younger and less scared of all things I guess?) and if you don't want to get super tired - there are 463 steps. The view from the top is amazing, but there are many other places from where you can get a stunning panorama of the city.

P.S. Don't forget to read about the architectural structure of the Dome, which is extremely interesting.




This amazing miniature by Lorenzo Ghiberti is on the Baptistry's door facing the Dome

2 - The Lungarni and the Bridges
Florence's river Arno crosses the city dividing it into two parts. The embankments on both sides are called Lungarni (= along the Arno). My favourite ones to walk along are Lungarno Torrigiani and Lungarno Generale Diaz as they are the ones leading to Ponte Vecchio, the main bridge of the city, and the only one which wasn't destroyed during the bombardments of World War II. The best bridges to walk along are the Ponte Vecchio, where you can buy amazing jewellery and walk freely as cars are not allowed, and Ponte Santa Trinita where you can sit down and enjoy a magical view of Ponte Vecchio, especially at sunset, while having gelato from Gelateria Santa Trinita (one of my favourites!). There are other nice bridges where you can sit down but these ones are my favourites.



3 - La Rinascente 
Along with Coin, La Rinascente (= the Rebirth) is the most fashionable mall in Florence's city centre. Don't expect anything huge like Dubai Mall - Florence is a city of art before one where you can go crazy shopping. Actually, this department store has its history too, as it was created nearly a century ago. My favourite parts of Florence's Rinascente are the fourth floor where you can find fun home ware, and obviously the café on the top where you get the best view of the Dome. It's super expensive but well worth it.
4 - Via Tornabuoni & other shopping streets
If you're in the mood for a super expensive shopping session, then you need to go to via Tornabuoni as this street offers the best Italian and international clothing and jewellery brands worldwide, including Gucci, Prada, Tiffany & Co., Céline and others. Alternatively, you can just casually walk along it as it's nothing like over crowded Oxford Street or the 5th Avenue.

Other cheaper shopping sites are: via Cerretani, via Panzani, via Martelli, via Calzaiuoli, via Nazionale, San Lorenzo's Marketplace and the Mercato nuovo (=new marketplace) in the Loggia del Porcellino (= the loggia of the piglet!).
5 - Boboli Gardens and the Cascine Park
Florence isn't a very green city. However, we do have some magic green corners too! The Boboli Gardens were the massive property of the Medici, the Florentine dynasty from the 1400s to the 1700s. To be honest, this park isn't my favourite as I much prefer London's parks, but it's definitely a must if you've never been to Florence. Make sure you don't visit on a hot day, it would become a nightmare. 

On the other hand, the Cascine Park can be a lot more pleasant for a walk during the day, even with a hot weather. You can rent rollerblades and go around the promenade which is quite fun. I strongly suggest to avoid going there at night as it's quite dangerous and it doesn't have the best reputation. 
6 - The Uffizi Gallery 
Going to the Uffizi Gallery is like visiting the Louvre in Paris; the Prado in Madrid; the National Gallery in London. In other words, you can't not go! It contains some of the most beautiful paintings in the world and it's a beautiful building. 
7 - Churches and museums 
Florence, as most Italian cities, is rich with churches. Apart from the Duomo which we already mentioned, there are loads of beautiful churches you can visit. Some names: Santa Croce (must visit), San Lorenzo (must visit - contains the Cappelle medicee), Orsanmichele (very small but super pretty!), Santa Maria Novella, SS. Annunziata, Santo Spirito.

Florence also offers loads of museums. Take your time to choose which one you want to see: it probably won't be an easy choice! I recommend to always check what exhibition is on at Palazzo Strozzi. They are usually interesting and well organised. Other museums: Bargello, Stibbert (displaying arms and weapons), Bardini, Boboli, Palazzo Pitti (various subjects), Specola, Archeologico, Galileo (natural history, science, astronomy), and many others. Just google to find more!

8 - San Niccolò
This is my favourite area of the city. It's actually a really small neighbourhood but I think that if you go to Florence you should definitely check it out! It's the best area for aperitivo and after dinner-drinks where most locals go. If you climb to the top you can get to Piazzale Michelangelo.
9 - Piazzale Michelangelo & the Giardino delle rose
From the Piazzale Michelangelo you can see the panorama of the entire city, which is why most people love it. I have to admit that it's not my favourite spot as it's usually super windy and very touristic. However, if the weather's good and you feel like having an aperitivo there it will be a great experience. The less known Giardino delle rose is a small garden located in the same area where you can sit down to chat or just to read a book by yourself. It's got roses and beautiful lemon trees that make it smell lovely. I love it.
10 - The Tuscan Countryside
Does Chianti sound familiar to you? Well you absolutely need to go and witness it. You can rent a car and drive around the Tuscan countryside, watching a breathtaking and romantic landscape that you'll never forget. If you can, spend more than just a day there: take your entire weekend off the city so you can avoid its overcrowded city centre.

So these were my top 10 places to visit in Florence. Let me know if you've been to any of these and what you thought about my tips :) Have a great day! 

6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Glad you like it :)

      Assia | www.assiashahin,com

      Delete
  2. Absolutely beautiful photos!! It's been 4 years since I've visited Florence, Italy but looking at these photos brought me right back :) Thanks for sharing and Happy Friday!!

    Lor @ http://cozycomfyhome.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I could bring you back to some nice memories :) Hope you've had a lovely weekend <3

      Assia | www.assiashahin.com

      Delete
  3. Ah bella Italia, la dolce vita! Florence is on my list and seeing your exceptional pictures just wants me take the next flight to come over to see you. xxx

    Caz | Style Lingua

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh you absolutely need to visit. If you're into history of art and the Middle Ages / Renaissance plus bits of Italian fashion this is the right place to visit. :) xxx

      Assia | www.assiashahin.com

      Delete