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A Florentine Holiday: how to plan a perfect stay in Florence

Planning a city break in Florence? If so, then excellent choice, and if not, then why not? The beautiful city of Florence, known as 'the jewel of the Renaissance', is a city of many treasures. The Tuscan capital, with its charming streets and iconic landmarks, was shaped by the greatest Renaissance masters and stands as a testament to the splendour of Italian art, culture, and history – a fifth of the world's Renaissance art is stored and displayed across Florence! Wander the picturesque streets and handsome squares, such as the Piazza della Signoria, then take some time to explore the museums, galleries, churches, monasteries and palaces. From the Palazzo Vecchio, to the Duomo, passing through the Uffizi Museum, the City of the Arts will take your breath away. There is plenty to do and see to fill up an entire week's holiday or more, however, that's not to say that Florence is not also ideal for a long weekend getaway. In this article we aim to arm you with the information you need to plan the perfect Italian holiday in this beautiful and iconic city, from when to visit, what to see, and where to stay, for the most luxurious and memorable escape.

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When to visit Florence?

Understanding the best time to visit Florence ensures a fulfilling experience. The city's peak seasons, from April to June and September to October, boast pleasant weather ideal for exploring its treasures without the overwhelming summer crowds. However, consider visiting in the off-season (November to March) for fewer tourists and a chance to immerse yourself deeper into the local culture – but keep in mind that certain attractions might have reduced hours during this period.

 

How long should I stay in Florence?

A weekend in Florence:

  • Convenience: being a relatively short plane ride from most major cities across Europe, including the UK, a weekend getaway to Florence is ideal for those with limited time or just looking for a quick city break, allowing you to experience its highlights without committing to a longer trip – although if you can make it a long weekend, then even better!

  • Highlights and Quick Exploration: a weekend stay allows you to visit the major attractions, and get a nice taste of Florence's cultural richness, art, and history. Note however, that a weekend may feel rushed, if you want to delve deeper into the city's culture, enjoy leisurely walks through the charming streets, or discover the lesser-known attractions.

A longer holiday in Florence:

  • Immersive Experience: you won't regret opting for a longer holiday, say a week or more, which allows for delving deeper into Florence's rich cultural tapestry. You'll have time to explore the city at a relaxed pace, visit off-the-beaten-path attractions, and truly immerse yourself in the local lifestyle.

  • Day Trips: a longer stay also allows for day trips to nearby towns like Siena, Pisa, or exploring the breathtaking surrounding Tuscan countryside, providing a more comprehensive experience of the region.

  • Cultural Exploration: you can take advantage of cultural activities, such as cooking classes, art workshops, and local festivals, offering a more authentic understanding of Florentine life.

 

What is there to see and do in Florence?

As the capital of Tuscany, Florence boasts an array of attractions catering to various interests. Art enthusiasts will revel in the renowned Uffizi Gallery, home to masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli. Marvel at the architectural wonder of the Duomo and its intricate façade, offering panoramic views of the city from its dome. For a luxurious experience, explore the Palazzo Pitti and its opulent Boboli Gardens, or indulge in a bespoke shopping experience along the Ponte Vecchio, adorned with jewellers and artisanal boutiques. Those seeking a romantic getaway can stroll hand-in-hand through the quaint streets of the Oltrarno district, witnessing the sunset over the Arno River or sipping wine at intimate cafes. For a charming escape, venture to the Tuscan countryside, just a short drive from Florence, where vineyards and rolling hills await, offering a serene backdrop for relaxation and romance.

Florence skyline

Here's a list of must-see attractions:

  1. Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore: the awe-inspiring Florence Cathedral showcases Brunelleschi's famous dome, Giotto's Bell Tower, and exquisite marble façades, representing Florence's architectural brilliance.
  2. Uffizi Gallery: home to an unparalleled collection of Renaissance masterpieces, including works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, the Uffizi is a treasure trove of art.
  3. Galleria dell'Accademia: here is where you can witness Michelangelo's iconic statue of David, along with other significant sculptures and paintings, offering insight into the artist's genius.
  4. Ponte Vecchio: one of the city’s star attractions, it’s the only bridge dating from medieval times. You can reach it through the Vasari Corridor, and around the bridge you will find authentic jewellery shops.
  5. Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens: a testament to Florentine opulence, the Palazzo Pitti hosts various museums, while the adjacent Boboli Gardens showcase exquisite Renaissance landscaping.
  6. Basilica di Santa Croce: known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, this basilica houses the tombs of illustrious figures like Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.
  7. Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria: explore the grandeur of Florence's town hall, and the adjacent Piazza della Signoria adorned with remarkable sculptures, including a replica of Michelangelo's David, and monuments that are worth a detour such as the Fountain of Neptune.
  8. Mercato Centrale: this bustling indoor market is a delight to the senses, with stalls selling fresh produce, and delectable local delicacies and Tuscan specialities.
  9. Oltrarno District: cross the Arno River to discover the Oltrarno, boasting artisan workshops, charming streets, and the lesser-explored side of Florence's historical centre. It is also where you'll find the Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers a panoramic view of the city and is known for the sunset that you will find on many postcards sold in souvenir shops.
  10. Enjoy Tuscan Cuisine: indulge in authentic Tuscan cuisine by visiting local trattorias and enjoying dishes like ribollita, bistecca alla fiorentina, and gelato from renowned gelaterias, see below for more juicy details!

 

Where to eat in Florence?

Florentine cuisine embodies a harmonious blend of simplicity and exceptional flavours, rooted in Tuscany's rich agricultural bounty. Renowned for its emphasis on quality ingredients, it celebrates rustic yet refined dishes. The city's culinary offerings showcase a reverence for tradition, allowing visitors to savour authentic tastes that have been passed down through generations. Some iconic Florentine specialities include:

  • The succulent bistecca alla fiorentina, a thick T-bone steak, between tenderloin and sirloin, grilled to a perfection that will delight meat lovers.
  • Ribollita and Pappa al Pomodoro, these hearty rustic vegetable soups eaten with bread, are served in the small restaurants of the public markets, and are brimming with Tuscan flavours.
  • Indulge in the simplicity of fettunta, grilled bread drenched in peppery extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Pappardelle alla lepre, pappardelle pasta with a hare ragù, a stunning winter dish, best served with a glass of red wine.

After a day of sightseeing, take the time to sit on the terrace in a café. in one of the city’s many squares. You can have an aperitif there with small snacks and accompanied by the famous and refreshing Spritz. To continue your culinary escapade, stop off at a restaurant serving up some authentic Florentine dishes. Here are some of our top recommendations:

  1. Osteria All'Antico Vinaio: famed for its delectable panini, this charming eatery near the Uffizi Gallery offers a variety of mouth-watering sandwiches filled with quality Tuscan ingredients.
  2. Trattoria Sostanza: known for its classic Tuscan cuisine, this unassuming trattoria serves iconic dishes like the buttery chicken cooked in a sizzling pan and other hearty, authentic meals.
  3. La Giostra: located near the Uffizi Gallery, La Giostra offers an upscale dining experience with a romantic atmosphere and a menu featuring Tuscan and Austrian-inspired cuisine.
  4. Il Santo Bevitore: this stylish restaurant in the Oltrarno district serves innovative dishes crafted from fresh, local ingredients, accompanied by an impressive selection of wines.
  5. Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina: a wine bar and restaurant offering a refined dining experience with an extensive wine list, delectable Tuscan cuisine, and a cosy ambiance near Palazzo Pitti.

To digest your meal, on the way back to your accommodation, let yourself be tempted by an ice cream served in one of the many gelateria throughout the city!

 

Where to stay in Florence for a bit of Luxury?

Florence offers a diverse range of accommodations catering to every preference. From luxurious boutique hotels boasting historical charm and personalised services to elegant city-centre establishments with panoramic views of the Arno River, the options are plentiful. Visitors can choose to stay in beautifully restored historic palazzos-turned-hotels or opt for intimate boutique hotels tucked away in charming alleyways, offering a glimpse into local Florentine life. Additionally, there are comfortable apartments for those seeking a more independent stay, providing the flexibility to immerse themselves in the city's vibrant atmosphere. Here are a handful of our favourite luxury hotels in Florence:

  • A five-star villa The Hotel Regency is the personification of elegance. This luxurious boutique hotel embodies timeless charm and impeccable service, with its classic Florentine architecture and stylishly appointed rooms, guests are enveloped in an atmosphere of refined comfort. Indulge in exquisite Tuscan cuisine at the hotel's restaurant and unwind in the serene garden oasis. Nestled in a quiet residential area, the hotel is perfectly situated for exploring Florence's cultural treasures.
  • The four-star Palazzo Castri 1874 presents a blend of historic grandeur and modern comforts in the heart of Florence. This fully renovated boutique hotel offers elegantly designed rooms, a tranquil garden sanctuary, a rooftop terrace overlooking the city skyline, a spa and wellness centre, and proximity to Florence's cultural landmarks.
  • The Residenza Magliabechi epitomises Florentine charm and hospitality. Nestled in the city centre, this luxury guesthouse offers elegant rooms adorned with classical decor and modern amenities. Residenza Magliabechi ensures an enchanting stay in the heart of the city.
  • The refined four-star Palazzo Lorenzo Hotel Boutique & Spa radiates sophistication and luxury in the heart of Florence, boasting lavishly designed rooms, a serene spa for ultimate relaxation, and impeccable service. Well positioned for discovering the city's cultural landmarks, guests can immerse themselves in Tuscan heritage while indulging in the hotel's opulent amenities.

As ever, our team of travel experts at VeryChic work hard to unearth the best accommodations and negotiate the best offers, and we invite you to take a look at our current Florentine hotel offers available on our website and apps.

 

Getting around and exploring Florence

Navigating Florence is easy, with most attractions within walking distance. However, for those wishing to explore further, renting a Vespa or a bicycle adds an adventurous touch to city exploration. The city's efficient public transportation system, including buses and trams, provides access to attractions beyond the city centre.

 

Beyond Florence: day trips and excursions in Tuscany

Venture beyond Florence to experience the enchanting Tuscan countryside. Take a day trip to the picturesque towns of Siena and San Gimignano or revel in the serenity of the Chianti region, famous for its vineyards and wine tastings. Embarking on these excursions unveils the rustic charm and unparalleled beauty of the surrounding region of Tuscany.

Florence skyline

 

Final thoughts

A visit to Florence it an immersion into a world of art, history, and sophistication. Whether it's a weekend city break, a luxurious escape, or a romantic getaway, Florence beckons with its allure and promises an experience that lingers in memory long after departure. Using the above guide you should hopefully have what you need to plan an immersive experience that captures the essence of Italy's artistic capital amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Tuscany. And with a little help from VeryChic, you should have everything you need to ensure your stay is superbly comfortable and has a luxurious touch!

 

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