So much about Florence comes down to the art of looking good. A center of the world’s artistic innovations for centuries, Florence was at the epicenter of the renaissance thanks to its artists, and its wealthy families’ patronage of them, and the masterpieces are still on show today in this much-altered city. From the always heaving Piazza della Signoria to the boutiques and brand names which outfit this generation of the Florentine elite, the city is a bustling and beautiful place where unsurpassable artistic genius rubs shoulders with gothic and renaissance architecture, not to mention the city’s jewel – the Uffizi.
Things to see
There’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to architecture and majesty in Florence, but one of the city’s most astonishing sights is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Construction begun way back in the 13th Century, and this gothic masterpiece with its iconic dome – once the largest in the world – is probably the most recognisable feature of the Florentine skyline. You can also scale the heights of the tower for an unforgettable view of the city. The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge made of stone which straddles the Arno River, and is the oldest of the city’s six bridges. Within its covered segments stand shops where jewelers and art dealers compete with souvenir sellers for your business. In the shadow of the Duomo, the Piazza del Duomo offers a place to unwind and take in the views of the cathedral from ground level, as well as being a perfect spot to unwind with a traditional gelato.
Hotels in Florence
In the city once run by the Medicis and still packed with renaissance art, you won’t be surprised to learn that luxury is always an option. There are plenty of five-star hotels in Florence, from villas to guesthouses with pillars, courtyards, and fountains. High-end hotels have a wide variety to offer, from outdoor pools and on-site spas to business centers. Mid-range hotels should offer as standard WiFi and flat-screen televisions, and most will also have in-room tea and coffee making facilities, too.
Where to stay
The area around Santa Maria Novella is hugely popular with tourists, thanks in part to the fact there are more reasonably priced options here than in many other quarters, but be sure to aim for the area between Santa Maria Novella and the river where you’ll find great nightlife, rather than the region near the train station which tends to be noisy, busy, and a little less glamorous than you’d hope for. As well as being central, the medieval alleys around the Duomo are close to the city’s famed architectural highpoints – not to mention the statue of David – with a stunning mix of baroque buildings and leafy squares.
How to get to
The city is served by the small Peretola Airport which sees arrivals from many destinations across the continent. A regular Vola in Bus service runs around every 30 minutes from the airport to the city center, taking around 15 minutes depending on traffic. As well as Peretola Airport, there are alternative flight options if you’re willing to travel a little further to Pisa Airport or Bologna, which both cater to budget airlines and are easily accessible from Florence. The city’s other main hub is Santa Maria Novella Station which connects Florence to cities across Tuscany, and Italy.