“The oleander on the wall
Grows crimson in the dawning light,
Though the grey shadows of the night
Lie yet on Florence like a pall.”
By the Arno, Oscar Wilde, 1881
As a major crossroad between Bologna and Rome, Florence shines out as a conspicuous spot for Italy addicts. At the end of the medieval period, the city succeeded in several fields such as finance, commerce and arts. Considering that it is still one of the most touristic places, due especially to the fine art environment, it definitely deserves to be considered as the birthplace of the Renaissance. To be there and see all those unique masterpieces of the medieval ages was the determinant reason for me to spend three days in that ravishing city.
- To Florence
As me and my friend decided to start our trip in Bologna, I arrived in Florence by train. There are two main train companies in Italy: TrenItalia and ItaloTreno. It is better to book your ticket at least two weeks in advence, otherwise the high prices may disappoint you.
- In Florence
Even if you are not a walking person, I highly recommend you to walk everywhere as much as possible. I had never seen a city surrounded by history that much before. I can guarantee that it is impossible to see an ugly building. Anyway, if you still insist on taking a bus, or the place that you stay in is not in the centre, there are public busses you can take. But be careful, you can’t buy a ticket inside of a bus – you should buy it from the kiosks before they close. There is also another option for the ones who want to see every place and have enough budget: Firenze Card. With this card, you have several discounts, free usage of public transportation and a free priority access to one museum of your choice. In my opinion, buying this card because is unnecessary… if you manage your time and plan your day properly, you won’t need a prior access or discount.
You have a lot of options for accommodation. Even though Florence is a small city, it is full of tourists in every season so you there are many advantages. I chose the cheapest and most trustworthy option because I had a limited budget, as in 99% of my trips… However, it was a satisfying experience for me. Specifically for Florence, you are free to choose to stay practically anywhere because, as I said before, it is a small city and every place is walking distance. The only thing you should care about is hygiene.
Museums and Galleries
It is pretty hard to see and list all the museums and galleries in Florence so I will only talk about the ones that I visited. Let’s start!
PS: Keep in mind that the first Sunday of every month you can visit all public museums for free.
- Piazza Della Signoria
It is an open air museum, so you don’t have to pay in order to feast your eyes. There, you can see a lot of important pieces including the replica of Michelangelo’s David. The original version of David sculpture stayed there for 400 years and was later moved into the Galleria dell’Acdemia to be keept under protection.
- Galleria dell’Accademia
This museum is known as the place of David sculpture. It is also the most visited museum of Florence after Uffizi Gallery. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos from Galleria dell’Accademia. Keep your power bank with you all the time.
- Uffizi Gallery
A legend, a piece of paradise, house of the masterpieces… If you are a fan of fine arts you will fall in love with Uffizi. It is located in between the Piazza della Signoria and River Arno. Inside of the museum you can enjoy the view of Arno.
Before I went, I knew that I would have to wait in long queues, but I honestly didn’t expect to wait THAT long. When I joined the queue it was 3 pm, when I managed to enter in the museum it was 5:30 pm. People were going for dinner and coming back to the queue again!! But it is not all bad – you can see some painters and other artists drawing portraits of the people in the line!
There are three main floors in the museum and the floors are separated both chronologically and conceptually. The second floor is considered as the main floor. There you can see the main art samples of the period between the 13th and the 18th centuries. Also, some pieces from Medici collection are located on that floor. At the end of the second floor, you will find a cafe with a huge terrace, there you can see the Clock Tower and you can enjoy the magnificent view.
For the other floors, you can check the official website of Uffizi Gallery.
- Medici Riccardi Palace
This palace was the first Renaissance building built in Florence. Today, it is one of the main touristic attractions: the courtyard, the garden, the tapestry room, the hall, and the the contemporary exhibitions, placed in the bottom part of the palace.
For me, the palace was one of the most impressive buildings in Florence. Maybe it is because of my interest in the Medici family and in History, or maybe it is just because of its breathtaking atmosphere. Here you have some photos of the palace.
For students, the entrance fee is 6 euro. Even though it was the first Sunday of the month, it was not free entrance as the public museums.
- Basilica di Santa Croce
It is one of the most important and ancient buildings if Florence, and it was built by Arnolfo di Cambio in the 13th century. He is also the designer of Cambio, Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio. The mauseloums of Galileo, Michelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli and the other famous artists are here.
- Boboli Gardens
Here is one of the most beautiful open air museums in Florence. The garden represents the design approach of the 16th century. It was designed for a Medici lady called Eleonora di Toleodo. Because there wasn’t enough sources to water the plants, a system was constucted to use water from the river Arno.
- Piazza del Duomo
It is located in the heart of the city and it is one of the most popular squares of Florence.
- Piazza della Signoria
This has been the centre of civic life and government since medieval times and, for me, it is the best square in Italy. Especially at night, with all the lights and the people around, it becomes more beautiful than ever. Wired Next Festival was happening when I was there and the square was full of people trying to follow the festival on screen. I spent almost two hours there just sitting and learning what was going on.
- Piazza della Repubblica
This square turns into a fantasy at night. As a fan of lights, I literally enjoyed my view with all the lights and carousels. If you are lucky to spend a night there, listen to this song and remember my advise.
All over Florence there are a lot of fancy places to eat. I recommend you to find both fancy and affordable ones, jus by walking around the city. Here you have several options and the addresses!
The best pizza I have ever tasted! Affordable prices, delicious coffee and the view of the river. What else you need?
♦Piazza de Frescobaldi 3, Florence, Toscana
Perfect place to have a breakfast and to taste ravioli with mushrooms. And the owner of the place is such a nice lady! The wine is not that good, though.
♦Romana 24, Florence, Toscana
1950 American Diner is a nice place to take cool photos and to buy some products of Coca Cola. They are serving the food with the rollerblades which is fit in the name of the restaurant. The food is not that tasty but it is a nice place to enjoy your time.
♦Via Guelfa, 43, 50123 Florence
5 Tips for Florence
- Inside of the city, do not pay for Firenze Card. Follow the discounts and, if you are a student, keep your student ID with you.
- If you have more than 3 days to spend, try to rent a bike before you go. Check out some FB pages to rent it.
- If you are a History lover, consider visiting the private museums even though they are pretty expensive.
- Although it is hard to enter to Uffizi, stay strong and wait for it.
- Italian people dress fancy. Keep that in mind and do not be a regular traveler for once. Dress well!