Florence, the Tuscan capital, is one of Italy's most popular destinations, known for its rich history, vibrant culture, art, architecture, food, and wine. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence was a major European power from the 1300s to 1500s, and all types of arts thrived, including literature, and saw the invention of opera in the 16th century. Florence was also known for making great scientific advancements during the Age of Discovery, in the fields of astronomy, anatomy, cartography, and more. Florence is home to the incredible Medici family collection of art, including one of the world's most famous sculptures, David. Today, Florence remains a cultural capital, showcasing its history through its architecture and art collections in its beautiful setting alongside the Arno River.
Florence is situated in the region of Tuscany in northern central Italy. The city of Florence is surrounded by hills, including parts of the nearby Appenine Mountains and Alpi Apuane. The main geographic feature in the city itself is the Arno River, which flows right through it and was a major factor in the formation of Florence. Smaller rivers near Florence include the Mugnone and Affrico.
How to get there
The main international airport in Florence is the Amerigo Vespucci International Airport, or Peretola, which offers service to destinations across Europe and domestically. The airport is connected to the city center by bus to the main train station. The other airport option is in Pisa, where budget airlines offer better deals and trains and buses transport travelers into Florence.
Florence's main train station is Firenze Santa Maria Novella, while other stations are Firenze Campo Marte and Firenze Rifredi. Overnight trains are available from cities in France and Germany, but budget airlines may be comparable in price and much faster.
When to visit
Spring and fall are some of the best times to visit Florence to avoiding most of the heat and the crowds. It's best to avoid visiting in summer, when Florence gets hot, humid, and overcrowded with tourists. Especially avoid August, when the locals leave for vacation and many of the shops, restaurants, and other sites shut down.
What to see
Florence has plenty to offer visitors, which has made it one of Europe's most popular travel destinations. The historic center of town in Florence has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its many architectural and historic sites. With over 80 museums, visitors could spend weeks exploring those alone, and most would begin with the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi houses one of the most famous collections of Renaissance art, including work from Boticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Titan.
Another major art gallery in Florence is the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze, which houses the world famous statue of David, by Michelangelo. Palazzo Pitti is another of the world's most famous picture galleries, which also features the Boboli gardens. Important sculpture collections are found at the Bargello and the Museum of the Works of the Duomo, where the works of Donatello and Michelangelo are housed. Fashionistas will love the Gucci Museum, dedicated to the fashion house founded in Florence, showcasing its history and influential style.
Architectural sites of significance in Florence include Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of Florence's bridges, which crosses the Arno River and holds many jewelery shops. The city's main cathedral, Duomo di Firenze, is formally known as Santa Maria del Fiore. Visitors can climb the Brunelleschi dome and also view the dome from Giotto's Tower across the way.
Where to stay
Some inexpensive places to stay in Florence are hostels, like the Academy Hostel and Archi Rossi Hostel, or even Camping Michelangelo, where tents with beds are set in the hills above the city for a very inexpensive accommodation. For regular hotels, there are many options, including the centrally located Hotel Torre Guelfa Palazzo Acciaiuoli, Hotel Perseo, or the former convent, Morandi all Crocetta. Luxury hotels include Palazzo Magnani Feroni, Grand Hotel Cavour, and Villa la Vedetta Relais.