24 hours in Florence
We love Florence. Despite the fact that it can be heaving with tourists in the Summer, Florence always entices and not just because of the ice cream and pizza. Here's our list of must sees for a packed 2 day trip:
The Uffizi Gallery:
The Uffizi alone is worth visiting Florence for. It’s possibly enough to justify a trip to Italy. Even if art’s not your thing. The gallery is home to some of the most famous, and best Italian art in the world. Our favourites are: Botticelli’s Birth of Venus – unlike the Louvre’s Mona Lisa – it’s not a serious anti-climax; Raphael’s Portrait of Pope Leo X; Da Vinci’s The Annunciation; Caravaggio’s Medusa; and Titian’s Venus of Urbino.
Tip – the big hitters will be crowded, so concentrate on the less famous works as they are still world class. Make sure you book ahead on the Uffizi’s official site to avoid queues and the first Sunday of every month is free – but crowded.
The Galleria dell’Accademia:
The Galleria is home to Michelangelo’s best work of art – David. It’s a small gallery, but totally worth it. The world’s most famous sculpture doesn’t disappoint in the flesh. Carved from a single block of marble it’s anatomically perfect and feels virtually human. There’s other amazing sculptures Michelangelo’s Slaves and The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, but all you will remember is David.
Tip – do see the original. The replica in the Piazza della Signoria just doesn’t cut it in comparison.
The Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore:
You can’t miss or ignore Florence’s massive, ornate cathedral. It’s an elaborate, pink, white and green marble structure that dominates the entire city skyline. The marbled, breathtaking interior is topped with a record breaking dome designed by Brunelleschi.
As is typical in Italian Cathedrals, the baptistery and bell tower are separate buildings and both are equally spectacular.
Tip – Don’t miss climbing up Giotto’s magnificent campanile for the best views of the city.
You may be spoilt for choice for ice cream in Florence, but we believe Vivoli’s ice cream is possibly the best in the world. When we’re in Florence, we have at least 2 cones a day from this back street emporium. The small parlour dates back to 1930 and is still run by the same family. Using seasonal produce, the menu changes daily. We love all of the flavours, but Crema (or cream) is their signature scoop.
Tip – whilst you’re there try an affogato. It’s a divine mix of sweet, cold ice cream and bitter, hot coffee.
The Mercato Centrale:
The Mercato Centrale set in a beautiful iron and glass market dating back to 1874, the Market has transformed into a must visit food destination. The ground floor is packed with fresh grocery, cheeses, olive oil and artisan stores. The upstairs food court is a perfect place to get well priced, delicious food in a city that tends to rip off tourists. Sit at the lively communal tables and take your pick from fresh pasta or seafood, veggie and vegan stands, pizza or full blown restaurant food. Then browse the cheese and chocolate for desert.
Tip – The market is open every day from 8am to midnight and the ground floor is perfect for sourcing picnics.
- to avoid queues always book ahead
- avoid anywhere that just caters for tourists and go for cafes and bar off the main tourist drags.