Florence was founded as a Roman military colony by Julius Caesar in 59 BC and even served as Italy’s capital from 1865– 1870. During the 14th–16th century, Florence achieved prominence in commerce and finance, learning, and especially the arts.
Italian culture is very welcoming and family-oriented. Many special occasions are centered around food, friends, and family. Taking time to enjoy la dolce vita is very important.
Art is visible throughout the city, both in structures and inside museums. The Accademia and Uffizi (where the Medici family treasures are), Galleries are highly recommended for art aficionados. Examples of art in the Accademia include Michelangelo’s original “David”, and other important masterpieces such as ”I Prigioni”, ”San Matteo” and the “Palestrina Pietà”. The young Michelangelo carved the David from a huge block of rough marble in three years, creating an imposing sculpture of absolute beauty, an icon of the renaissance model. There is a replica in a square outside.
In the heart of the city, you can admire the imposing and singular Orsanmichele Church, a masterpiece of Florentine gothic art, decorated with shrines with statues of the patron saints of the powerful medieval trade guilds. In the bustling Mercato della Paglia (Straw Market) – don’t forget to rub the nose of the famous “porcellino” (pig) and toss a coin into the fountain to bring you good luck! One must admire the romantic, picturesque Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence, with its renowned jewelry shops. Also a must to see is Piazza Signoria, one of the most beautiful squares in the world and the political center of the city. In this true “outdoor museum”, you’ll be amazed as you admire the beautiful Fountain of Neptune.
The best way to get around Florence is on foot. The city is surprisingly walkable; but you can hail a taxi if needed. However, if you plan to travel through Tuscany, you can take a tour or rent a car if you are over the age of 21. Be sure to ask for an automatic car if you can’t drive a manual car.
Day Tour to the Tuscan Region
We recommend enjoying the typical Tuscan hilly countryside, stopping at Siena, a splendid medieval city, universally known for its artistic treasures that has been recognized by the UNESCO as a “heritage of the humanity”. Once in Siena, visit the famous Piazza del Campo, with its particular “shell” shape where every year the famous “Palio” takes place. From Siena, driving along a panoramic road and admiring the vineyards and olive groves in the heart of the Chianti territory you will come to the ancient, fortified hamlet of Monteriggioni, a small jewel built during the thirteenth century. There is a pleasant country estate surrounded by aromatic plants, where you can enjoy a lunch of typical Chianti products and a tasting of a selection of fine Chianti and Vernaccia wines. We also recommend visiting San Gimignano, another beautiful town, UNESCO world heritage, famous for the still intact medieval town and beautiful towers hence the name “Manhattan of the Middle Ages”. This town is also known for the Vernaccia wine produced here. Take a stroll in the town and then return to Florence.
You can travel to Florence by plane or train. There is a major train station as well as two major airports, Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa and Amerigo Vespucci Airport, also known as Peretola, in Florence.
The climate of Florence is generally mild and can be defined as transitional Mediterranean, with relatively mild winters and hot, sunny summers.
Currency is Euro. Most major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, are accepted in Florence.
Italian is the official language of Florence, and most people speak English as a second language. Catholicism is the main religion in Florence.
The electrical current in most of Italy is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC) An adapter will be required to use your devices from home.
Things to See & Do In and Around Florence
- Climb to the top of the Duomo
- See the statue of David
- Shop the famous leather markets
- Take a day trip to Siena, Pisa, and San Gimignano
- Visit the Pitti Palace
- Visit the Uffizi Gallery
- Cross the Ponte Vecchio
You may be interested in these other blogs about travel in Europe:
Destination – Cologne, Germany
Europe Destinations – Paris, Ireland (and Egypt)
French Locations to See in the Mediterranean
What to See in Spain Along the Mediterranean
Seven Incredible Countries You’ll Explore Along the Danube River