is one of the world’s greatest monuments to the Renaissance. Artists and writers such as Michelangelo
lit up the city with their art, sculptures and literary works, ensuring Florence would be known for centuries to come as the birthplace of Renaissance arts.
Once the heart of Europe’s cultural and intellectual scene, Florence now stands as a testament to that period of artistic growth, thriving as a modern cosmopolitan city. It does, however, have one huge advantage over most European cities: it is very walkable--in fact, the city center is best negotiated on foot. The compact size of Florence makes the city an ideal place to rent an apartment for your stay. With a number of grocery stores and food markets, renting an apartment is really the best way (culturally and budget wise) to experience the city as a Florentine does.
Florence has a plethora of hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation and hostels located throughout the city. Wimdu have over 500 offers in Florence including guest rooms, double rooms, city centre apartments, bed & breakfasts and villas. We’re sure you’ll find your ideal accommodation with Wimdu today!
Florence’s origins date back to 59 BC when the Roman’s set up a colony there. Eventually, the Lombards captured Florence in the 6th century, and by the time the Dark Ages ended, it emerged as an independent city state. With its burgeoning wool and textile trade, plus a powerful banking sector, Florence flourished in the 13th century, becoming one of Italy’s prominent powers. Soon the Medicis, a wealthy banking family, were wielding power, helping to usher in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Renaissance until their demise in the 18th century. After the Italian unification in 1860, Florence became the capital of the Italian kingdom from 1865 to 1871. It is now the capital city of Tuscany
During World War II, Adolf Hitler, a devoted art lover, spared Ponte Vecchio (the bridge of gold) because of the priceless Medici art collection that hung in a secret passage above the bridge. Little did he know, the collection had already been removed by the time his troops stormed the city. All of the city’s other bridges were destroyed by the Nazis.
The Fountain of Neptune in Piazza della Signoria was designed to show the Florentines, in particular Cosimo I de’Medici’s, control over the sea. Medici, then the Grand Duke of Tuscany, had his face sculpted onto the Neptune figure.
The David in Piazza della Signoria is a copy of Michelangelo’s famous work. The statue, which symbolizes triumph over tyranny, was moved from the square in 1873. It is now housed in the city’s Galleria dell’Accademia.
Florence’s main focal point is the Duomo
, which rises above the heart of the city, providing the perfect place to explore the Baptistry, Campanile and Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The top of the Duomo’s dome is open to the public and offers incredible panoramas over the city. To the east is the church of Santa Croce, which features frescoes by Giotto. South of the Duomo is Piazza della Signoria
, the city’s political center with Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s town hall, the Uffizi, one of Italy’s top art galleries, and Ponte Vecchio. Santa Maria Novella is the city’s other great church, featuring chapels adorned with frescoes. It sits to the west of the Duomo’s orange-tiled dome next to the city’s main train station, which shares the same name.
Florence is a shopper’s paradise
. Don’t let its compact size fool you, the city packs a serious punch when it comes to places to spend some euro. The city is renowned for its high quality shops, featuring shoes, bags and other leather goods. All the best names in Italian fashion and jewelry can also be found in Florence. And for those seeking out an eclectic gift from their visit, artisan workshops, family-run businesses and antique shops dot the city’s tight medieval streets. The center of Florence is filled with all sorts of shops as well as street carts selling everything from souvenirs to leather jackets. For jewelry enthusiasts, Ponte Vecchio
is the place to go. The small shops that light up the bridge sell both new and antique jewelry pieces.
Cafe culture is alive and well in Florence, especially around the main piazzas and Duomo. However, if you want to escape the crowds and higher costs, look for cafes along the city’s narrow corridors, just off from the popular squares. Boccadama in Piazza Santa Croce is an excellent choice for good, affordable Tuscan cuisine. Head to Pizzeria Toto
near Piazza della Signoria and Dante’s house for some of the best pizza slices in Florence. Right next to the pizzeria, there is a grocery store and an Irish pub if you find yourself in need of a beer fix. When it comes to desserts, especially cannoli, there is no better place than Caffe Paszkowski in Piazza della Repubblica.
Florence also has several food markets, which is one of the big reasons having a kitchen when staying in the city is key. The main food market is Mercato Centrale
; however, produce can also be found at the Mercato di Sant’Abrogio, and on Tuesdays, at the Parco delle Cascine.
Florence is best seen by foot or bicycle. However, taxis can be found around the city and can be useful when traveling with luggage to and from the city’s main train station, Santa Maria Novella. The railway station
is approximately a 10-minute walk from the Duomo. It’s the main national and international train station in Florence. The city also features a good bus service. Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport
is located approximately four kilometers from the city center. The SITA/ATAF "Vola in Bus" bus shuttle operates between the airport and Santa Maria Novella train station. The journey takes about 20 minutes.