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What to do in Florence: 9 Useful Tips

Florence Duomo as seen from Michelangelo hill.
Photo taken by Petar Milošević - wikimedia.org.  Florence Duomo as seen from Michelangelo hill.

Given that Florence is one of the most beautiful cities not just in Italy, but also the entire world, it’s no surprise many people get lost in its abundance of architectural monuments, art and museums. Every visitor, however, is likely to see the city from a unique perspective. The smell of fresh pizza and espresso wanders the streets of Florence, inviting people to sit down in one of the many small inns. Nearby you’ll also find the city’s most expensive street, rustling with the most luxurious of fabrics, and the works of world-famous sculptors and architects. Here, Travel on Spot offers you 9 tips to make your trip enjoyable and stress-free.

Piazza della Signoria in Florence
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Piazza della Signoria in Florence

1. Most of the city’s beauty can be found in the Old Town, which is fairly small and cosy, and yet well-suited for long walks. Hiking around it in a circle you’ll easily see all of its landmarks. The Cathedral of Santa Croce is a large and elegant Gothic-style church, where you’ll find the tombstones of many famous medieval scientists and artists (Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and a few others), as well as a number of frescoes by Giotto and Donatello, and some truly spectacular stained glass.

medieval street in Florence Italy at night
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  medieval street in Florence Italy at night

2. Be sure to stray away from the main streets and routes of the Old Town. Wander round narrow streets without following any tourist paths. Since exploring the entire city on a single visit is downright impossible, missing a few “must-see” objects is hardly a problem. Instead of trying to see it all, we recommend you visit an interesting square or park, sit down on a bench or on the grass and spend a few minutes simply observing the passing crowds.

Vegetable stand in the city center of Florence
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Vegetable stand in the city center of Florence

3. A visit in Florence is a great opportunity to enjoy some traditional Florentine dishes, which reflect the eating patterns of workers and the poor, rather than those of the upper classes, as is often thought. The colourful and tasty masterpieces of the local cuisine are bound to make you marvel at what great dishes can be made from relatively simple ingredients. Most of the dishes are made from meat.

The popular sliced hams and sausages are usually sprinkled with spices and served with melon. And let’s not forget panzanella – a fresh salad served with crumbled toast , mostly eaten during summer.

Ponte alla Carraia medieval Bridge landmark on Arno river, sunset landscape with reflection
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Ponte alla Carraia medieval Bridge landmark on Arno river, sunset landscape with reflection

4. As everyone surely knowns, summers in Florence are really hot, which is why we recommend you stay close to water. Don’t worry, though, there’s plenty to see here, too: bridges, ship reflections on the water, and colourful houses. Have a picnic on one of the many waterfronts.

Florence ,Ponte Vecchio, Firenze, Italia
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Florence ,Ponte Vecchio, Firenze, Italia

5. One of such waterfront masterpieces, the Ponte Vecchio, is one of the oldest arch bridges in Europe, built in the 13th century over the River Arno. The bridge became home to many butchers and fish sellers who have built a number of tiny houses here. Some say this is the place where the term “bankruptcy” was born: sellers unable to pay tax for their stall were punished – soldiers would break the stall apart, an action called bancorotto (a broken table). Later, the meat market was replaced by a goldsmith workshop. Today, Ponte Vecchio is not only a symbol of Florence, depicted on most postcards, but also home to many cosy cafés and local restaurants, as well as a few workshops of local craftsmen.

Interior and showcase ice cream parlor in Florence. Italy
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Interior and showcase ice cream parlor in Florence. Italy

6. In Florence, a portion of ice cream is a must Visit the café Venchi, open for business since 1878. Here you’ll find a wide selection of traditional Italian ice cream, called gellatto, made and kept in unusually low temperatures, which gives it a special flavour. Coffee drinkers will also be satisfied too, as the café also offers espresso and latte-flavoured ice cream.

San Lorenzo market in Florence
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  San Lorenzo market in Florence

7. If you’re looking for souvenirs to bring back home or just something interesting to buy, we recommend you visit the Street Doing shop, which sells rare vintage items. The shop is located at the city centre. If you have the time and patience to dig through the countless things on sale here, you might come home with such rarities as a pair of shoes by Prada or Chanel for just a couple of Euros, a Fendi handbag or a tie by Yves Saint Laurent. Here you can also find some accessories and jewellery. It’s well worth visiting even if you don’t plan on buying anything. The shop is located in a 16th-century building, which adds to its cosiness and charm.

Beautiful view at sunset on the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Beautiful view at sunset on the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

8. Visit at least a few shop-workshops Many of these can be found near the Old Bridge in the Santo Spirito neighbourhood. Since time immemorial, Florence has been known for various crafts, many still practiced to this day. People say that today’s craftsmen of Florence work with one eye on tradition and another on innovation.

Tourist looking at Florence from the viewpoint. The historic centre of Florence declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Tourist looking at Florence from the viewpoint. The historic centre of Florence declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982

9. Relax at the Boboli Garden (Giardino di Boboli). It’s a 45,000-square-metre park – the city’s most famous green object, full of grottoes, fountains, various architectural wonders and varied flora. Make sure to come here and rest from the crowds, city colours and all the information about the most famous city of the Renaissance era.

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