This summer we had a fantastic six night holiday in Tuscany. You might have read an earlier post, Siena: A Postcard from the Ledge that told the story of our first ever experience of The Palio, but today’s post is a photo diary of our few days in Florence.
Fuelled by tales from friends who absolutely adore the region and go back each year, I was keen to get a little slice of the Italian action and wanted to learn more about the city that some say is the most beautiful city in Italy.
We love city breaks and normally go to Europe for a 2-3 night stay; once we even went to New York for two nights (my fault), which was obviously not long enough!
However, heading to Tuscany I wanted to cover some ground to see if there were particular places we would go back to for a longer period of time, so a trip was planned that would take in Pisa, Florence and Siena. You can’t fly into Florence from Bristol so we flew into Pisa on a Friday, stayed overnight and then caught the train to Florence, which is really easy to do, for a two night stay.
Put simply, Florence is gorgeous. A real jewel of a city, bursting with history and beautiful buildings to look at. You can literally walk around for days admiring the view – it is the birthplace of the Renaissance after all and known to be one of the great art cities of Europe. The Uffizi Gallery, a must-do, houses some of the greatest paintings and art in the world and, as for eating, well you’ve come to the right place, there’s somewhere to stop, eat and drink on every street. All under the warmth of the Tuscan sun.
First off, let me share details of the boutique hotel we stayed in with you. In the heart of the city, The Antica Torre di Via TornaBuoni No 1 is one of the nicest hotels we have stayed in. I chose it because the rooms looked lovely and it was centrally located, but the real pull is its 360° terrace overlooking the city. It’s just fabulous.
From here we enjoyed our morning coffee, taking in the hustle and bustle of early morning commuters, and late night drinks (they have an honest bar) while listening to the street musicians below. It really was fab, as was our room and the breakfast, which was served buffet-style and offered everything needed for a hungry traveller and could be enjoyed on an outdoor terrace under the morning sun.
This week’s post is picture-led so I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking, but I’ll finish here with my top three suggestions on what to do in Florence, which I would thoroughly recommend:
- Take a bike tour on your 1st day – it’s a great way to see the city with an expert guide, who knows their way around and is happy to share their knowledge. It also means you get your bearing real quick. Our tour was three hours of fun and ended with gelato! You don’t need to be a fantastic cyclist or super fit to enjoy the tour.
- Book tickets to the Uffizi in advance – it houses the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings not to be missed, but the queue is long and it’s very hot outside. You can buy before you leave here and allow around three hours to enjoy the gallery, which is enough to see the key pieces. There’s a nice outdoor cafe here too.
- Mooch around the narrow streets and sniff out great places to eat and drink or buy yourself a huge gelato (they only come in one size, don’t they?) and walk along the River Arno towards the shop-lined Ponte Vecchio. The bridge is a tourist trap, but you do get some great opportunities to take beautiful pics.