Falling in love with Florence, Italy

My first visit to Florence was sandwiched between a trip to Rome and a trip to Venice as part of a ten day whirlwind tour of Italy. Having come from Rome where I was on my feet all day, every day trying to cram in as many sights as I could, Florence was a very relaxed alternative.

We only had two days in ‘Firenze’ but it was long enough to see why everyone falls in love with the city. Hopefully this post will show you why as well!

Apartment

As with a lot of Italian tourist spots, hotels can be quite expensive for how outdated they are. Consequently we chose to use airbnb and stayed in a gorgeous apartment, seriously one of the nicest places I’ve stayed in a city before. The apartment was owned by a Roberto Cavalli shoe designer and her style shone through in the furnishings and overall design.

Viale Galileo

By the time our train got into Florence and we’d dropped our luggage off at the apartment it was late afternoon. To save time (and I’m quite lazy…) we took a bus from the city centre to the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The Basilica is located at the top of the hill overlooking the city. It’s apparently quite a nice walk but very steep!

The Basilica di San Miniato itself was very pretty inside but everyone was at the top for the incredible view. This was our first real glimpse of Florence, we hadn’t yet had chance to explore the city centre. There are plenty of things to do in Florence so we were keen to get going.

Firenze Italy

Piazzale Michelangelo

A stroll down the road from Viale Galileo is Piazzale Michelangelo. This is where the majority of tourist and postcard photos of Florence are taken. It’s recommended to stay until sunset when the rooftops and river are glimmering gold but we had places to see and gelato to eat!

Firenze Italy

Piazza Michelangelo Florence

Florence Italy Panorama

At the bottom of the hill on our way into the city centre we stopped at Vivaldi Gelateria. A family friend recommended this place to us and I’m so glad we tracked it down – good old Google Maps. Every flavour (I think we tried about six…) was so rich and delicious.

Vivaldi Gelateria Florence

Arno River and Ponte Vecchio

Walking back from Piazzale Michelangelo into the centre we had to cross the Arno River. Whilst crossing the Ponte Vecchio I couldn’t help but remember a book I had to read for A-level English, E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View. If you haven’t read it, A Room with a View is about a young English girl’s first visit to Florence and her fascination with her surroundings. Worth a read if you’re going! Anyway, Ponte Vecchio is always packed with tourists and street vendors but it’s a must-see for any visit and so different to any other bridge in Italy.

Arno River Florence

Ponte Vecchio Florence

Piazza della Signoria

My favourite part of Florence was the Piazza della Signoria. This L-shaped square is where the Palazzo Vecchio looms over a small copy of Michelangelo’s David and the crowds below. The David statue is a where the actual David was originally placed in 1504 – it’s now protected in the Academia museum which I discuss later in this post.

There are lots of statues around the square and you can easily spend an hour or so wandering around it, taking in your surroundings.

Piazza della Signoria

This area in Florence might be my favourite because we were there during ‘golden hour’ just before sunset. The sunlight made the beautiful buildings look very regal.

There are plenty of boutique shops in the city; Italy’s fashion industry was born in Florence and was home to some of the first high-end boutiques. The Chanel store in Piazza della Signoria was too pretty for me not to photograph.

Chanel Piazza della Signoria

Florence Duomo (Cathedral)

Duomo is a dominating presence in Florence’s skyline and city centre. Its huge octagonal dome is instantly recognisable and the exterior is incredible ornate. Due to how close Duomo is to other buildings, it’s quite difficult to crane your neck and take in the whole spectacle.

Whilst the exterior is a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble, the interior is quite plain. We knew this before we arrived so we didn’t waste the limited time we had in the city queuing to go inside, especially when the queue was 1.45 hours when we were there! If you do have a few days in Florence I’m sure it’s worth doing though, it is the most prominent Florence attraction.

Duomo Florence

Michelangelo’s Statue of David

Michelangelo’s infamous David is now located in the Academia Gallery. To see David and the other amazing paintings and sculptures in Academia I’d advise you to book tickets in advance and be prepared to queue! David is at the top of everyone’s Florence tourist attractions to-do list so even if you have a ticket reservation, like we did, you’ll still have to queue for about an hour.

It is worth every minute queuing to see the statue though, I could have stood looking at it for hours. It’s amazing how lifelike the marble is, the year of History of Art I did at university suddenly felt worthwhile!

Michelangelo David

There are galleries, sculptures, masterpieces and museums everywhere you turn in Florence. Academia, Uffizi and the museum of Palazzo Vecchio (the tower in Piazza della Signoria) are all worth seeing if that’s your thing.

Florence is a complete change of tempo in comparison to Rome. Of course Rome is the capital city so it’s to be expected that there’s more going on there; Florence felt more like the ‘real’ Italy. If you you enjoy relaxing and taking in scenery, appreciating art and good food you’ll fall in love with Florence head over heels.

 xxx

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Florence Pinterest

20 Comments

  1. Reply

    april

    August 30, 2017

    Sounds like such a wonderful place! My husband studied abroad there many years ago, but we would love to go back to visit!

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      August 31, 2017

      Oh incredible, I bet your husband knows of a few hidden gems!

  2. Reply

    Leigh

    August 31, 2017

    Love your photos! I’ve heard mixed reviews of Rome and Venice, but have only ever heard good things about Florence – it will definitely be my first stop when I finally visit Italy!

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      August 31, 2017

      It always surprises me when people dislike Rome or Venice, I suppose because they are very busy. I’ve heard good things about Bologna which is not too far from Florence 🙂

  3. Reply

    Akvile Stan

    August 31, 2017

    Loved it! We visited Verona & Venice this summer but I truly want to visit Florence sometime soon & Florence Duomo has been on my list as it looks absolutely stunning with all ornaments on the exterior. WOW! Best wishes, Akvile

  4. Reply

    Ketki

    August 31, 2017

    The view from Basilica di San Miniato is beautiful. Reminded me of Montmartre, Paris. I love the fact that you stated that Florence feels like real ‘Italy’. I will definitely try the Gelato store whenever I go there.

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      August 31, 2017

      I see what you mean about Montmartre, there’s something amazing about the rooftops of beautiful cities!

  5. Reply

    Farah Al Zadjaly

    August 31, 2017

    From the city, apartment, locations and food, the blog has made me want to book a trip… This is such a lovely place. I definitely need to revisit.

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      August 31, 2017

      I’m glad it inspired you, it is a beautiful city.

  6. Reply

    Kareemah Ashiru

    August 31, 2017

    Florence is a beautiful city! Did you try Gusto pizza? It is said to be the best in town.

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      August 31, 2017

      We didn’t, I will have to go back! I don’t think I’ve had one bad dish in Italy yet.

  7. Reply

    ELT

    August 31, 2017

    I skipped Florence last year on my visit to Italy (all my vacation days just vanished between Rome and Pisa). I definitely have plans to visit Italy again and after reading your post, Florence is gonna be in the top of my list! Stunning pictures and great info 👍🏻

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      August 31, 2017

      Glad you found it useful 🙂 There’s always somewhere you have to miss out isn’t there, for me it was Pisa – is it worth a trip?

  8. Reply

    Ufuoma

    August 31, 2017

    I really want to go to Italy and you’ve fueled my interest even more with this post. Your photos are gorgeous and it looks so tranquil. Gotta put it on my bucket list for next year.

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      August 31, 2017

      It felt incredibly tranquil having just arrived from the craziness of Rome!

  9. Reply

    Danielle Desir

    August 31, 2017

    Ponte Vecchio was the highlight of my trip to Florence and I have to agree that Florence feels so much more relaxing than Rome for sure! I just got back from 8 fun-filled days in Rome!

  10. Reply

    BONNITA ALUOCH

    August 31, 2017

    Florence definitely looks like a place I would like to visit. Your photos are very persuasive! I love that people appreciate art and can queue for long to check out a statue! Nice blog post.

  11. Reply

    Julia D'Orazio

    September 1, 2017

    First of all, love the name of your blog – Girl does enjoy a good pun! Secondly, graze e mille for sharing this article on one of my favourite cities – your photos make it even look that more dreamy. Had you thought about going to Siena too?

    • Reply

      jenhorsfall

      September 2, 2017

      Haha thank you! I haven’t considered Siena before no, I’d love to see more of the Tuscany region.

  12. Reply

    JESS

    October 1, 2017

    Thank you so much for this helpful post! I’ve also pinned it x

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