Only that this is much more than just a destination, it’s my ultimate getaway, the place that I’ve already seen 4 times and would come back to many times more.
Because you’ve already read the title (duh😊), you know by now we’re talking about Florence. What you don’t know this is the place I was referring to here, my absolute favourite place in the world. Now, you may argue that it isn’t necessarily a Summer destination, you’re thinking beaches and palm trees… Well, not in my book, I want cobblestone streets and squares and museum for my Summer, places to visit and delicious food to eat. Ah, and walking for miles in the scorching sun. Yeap, I’m weird.
The only problem with Florence is that, if I were to live here, I would need to first receive an unexpected inheritance that would allow me to never work again in my life. Because I have no intention to ever lift a finger in Florence, this is the place for an endless holiday.
Until that happens, though, I’ll make due with living the dream while on short city-breaks and here are a few suggestions if you’re planning to do the same.
Places to visit
Well, there are tones of them, you just need to Google “what to visit in Florence” and you’ll have trouble making your pick. After my several visits, there are nonetheless some that I would encourage you not to miss.
The Ufizzi Gallery. It really is as amazing as they say. Especially if you have the chance (#luckyme) to go there when they have a special entrance ticket (1 Euro, we got to see the Ufizzi for only 1 Euro😊) and it is open until midnight. We practically visited the gallery sometime around 10 o’clock in the evening, there were very few people inside and we got to walk though it at our own pace and enjoy the works of art. My favourites were “The Birth of Venus” by Boticelli and a portrait of Giovanni de’ Medici as a child, by Bronzino. No need to explain why I liked the first; as for the second, it was the single portrait in the entire gallery in which the character painted was smiling. And what a smile, a whole-heartedly mischievous smile of a child who was surely up for no good😊
Now, even if there’s no special ticket, don’t miss the Ufizzi. You might want, though, to book your entrance online waaaay before your visit, the queues are indeed huge.
Palazzo Vecchio. This is another place which you can visit up until 10 o’clock in the night, if I’m not mistaken. And going there late is as charming as it can be. The building overlooks Piazza della Signoria and it is the symbol of the civic power in Florence, hosting the Hall of the Five Hundred, but also countless works of art. For example, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were the ones who decorated the walls of the room. I mean, these two probably need no introduction.
You’ll also find here the private rooms of members in the ruling families and you’ll get to climb up to the Torre di Arnoflo. And, bonus if you are a fan of Dan Brown’s Inferno (I am, come on, it’s my guilty pleasure!), you can see the painting with the “Cerca trova” hidden message. Actually, you’ll just see the painting, as it is enormous, it’s quite hard to stop the message. But still,beat that if you can!
Ponte Vecchio. It’s just a bridge, you might say. Yes and no. It’s obviously a bridge, but it is also the place where the old jewelry merchants set up shop and you can feel the old times in the air. Now, you can still find jewelry shops here, high end or more affordable ones.
And did you know that there is a secret passageway, the Vasari Corridor, connecting the Ufizzi Gallery to the Pitti Palace? I found out about it first in Brown’s Inferno (btw, the movie is rubbish).
And the place has the best lighting in the afternoon. Come here if you want to snap some great photos.
Palazzo Pitti. It’s really close to the Ponte Vecchio and the entrance tickets also include access to the Boboli Gardens. The Palazzo is the largest museum in Florence and it is now divided into several galleries. The Gardens are pretty much huge, their layout being established by the Medici family, to later become a landmark for the Italian garden style. You’ll find sculptures and grottos here and you can take some time to unwind by just laying in the sun on the lawn. Do take a blanket or something similar with you, it will come in handy.
Galleria delle Academie. This is another landmark that you should not miss and a must see on the Art map of Florence. To be honest, we weren’t actually planning to see it, but due to an unexpected turn of events we actually did. And it was definitely worth, because it’s here where you’ll find Michelangelo’s David.
Where to eat
Oh, there are so many places! I love all those little places, nested along every narrow street, serving you wonderful food even if the place itself looks no bigger than a cupboard. I don’t remember too many names, but I actually don’t think you need to know any, just go on and discover them, you’ll not be disappointed.
There is one place, nevertheless, that you must go to and that is Mercato Centrale. I know I should pick one of the places above for my favourite spot in Florence, but the truth is this the one. Food before art, what can I do?
And plenty of food, that is. At the ground floor of the market you’ll find all sorts of great vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meat and fish to buy, just like in a regular market. But on the 1st floor, there’s another story. Here you’ll find an assortment of places selling delicious cooked meals, you just need to make your choice and enjoy it with a nice glass of prosecco. There’s also a bar and a cooking school, so the place is buzzing with good vibes and happy people. And you will be one of them, that’s guaranteed.