Tuscany conjures up images of grapes on vines, sprawling over rustic hills and hearty Italian dinners lit by gold tinged sunsets. At the heart of this sensuous province is its capital city, its vibrant cultural heart, Florence - or Firenze as the locals call it. During the Renaissance, Florence was Europe’s star. The city was the center of arts, culture and politics. Florence has been home to Botticelli, Donatello, Michelangelo and Pisano, the fathers of Italian painting. Their luscious colour palettes and elegant lines live on in the city’s architecture, sculptures and streets. With its abundance of beauty, Florence is the go-to place for honeymooners, unmissable for art lovers, and a must-visit destination for travelers on the lookout for the chill and glam dolce vita. If you plan to be in Florence for a zippy 24 hours, here are some activities that are guaranteed to give you an all-encompassing Florentine experience:
Italian Breakfast & Coffee
Start off the morning with a rich cup of Italian coffee and classic pastries. Smooth and strong, Italian coffees are world class, and definitely a notch above the Starbucks variety. So, grab a cappuccino to boost your energy levels for an adventurous day ahead. Try Caffe Rosano for a view of Florentine street life. Or La Menagere - another trendy place that is famous for its coffee, desserts, cocktails and quirkily crafted interior.
Gaze At The Duomo
Words cannot do justice to the spectacular cathedral that lies like a diamond in Florence’s sea of orange roofs. Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore , as it is formally known, is a Gothic-style monument, with distinct white marble walls embedded with pink, green and black designs. Wander the perimeter and have an impromptu photo-shoot. Stroll along inside to revel in the beauty of the cathedral’s octagonal dome and its stained glass windows. On a Sunday you can witness a glamorous music mass that draws in hundreds of people.
With a gelateria in practically every square, it becomes hard to tell which ones are the star gelaterias and which ones are the tourist traps. We can officially say that Gelateria Edoardo in the square engulfing the Duomo, is the best gelato you will have in Florence. These guys do not mess around. Waffles are baked on site and the aroma of them baking will make you salivate as you wait in line. The gelato is silky soft and as light as clouds, packed with flavour and with just the right amount of sugar. Enjoy interesting flavours like white wine, red wine and chocolate, cinnamon, zabaione or just a simple peach. And always remember to ask for panne (a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top!). Enjoy it on the stairs of the Duomo for extra points in the sunshine.
Shop For Unique Italian Leather
If you haven’t stocked up on Italian leather already, Florence is the best place to do so. From high-end, genuine, purses, bags, wallets and belts to lower-end knock-offs there is something for everyone to be found in Florence’s leather markets. Take home a richly colored souvenir from the Mercato Centrale .
Culture Fix At The Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is home to the greatest Italian painters: Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio and Uccello. The collection gives the viewer a vivid snapshot of the golden age of art that flourished in the streets of this beautiful city through the middle ages and into the Florentine Renaissance. Before entering the gallery, you will pass Loggia dei Lanzi, a courtyard adorned by dramatic statues of Greek heroes caught amidst bold and violent acts. Prepare for your heart to skip a beat when you see Perseus hold up Medusa’s severed head, or the violation of Sabine women. The gallery and these statues perfectly showcase the extreme evocativeness and emotions of Florentine art and culture.
Pizza That Will Change Your LifePizzeria Gusto
almost certainly serves the most outstanding pizza in Florence. It has the freshest ingredients, the friendliest staff and is located just outside the city center, in Piazza Santo Spirito. The menu is small, but give it a try and you'll see why there's so often massive queues out the door. Their heart-shaped pizzas are out of this world cute (and Instagrammable).
Sunset From The Piazzale Michelangelo
You will have to cross the river from the Duomo side of Florence to get to this historic square. A simple bus ride will do it. The square sits at a regal elevation from which you will enjoy picturesque panoramic views of the entire city. A sexy statue of David stands in the centre of the square and turns the heat right up. All in all, a pretty selfie-worthy view.
A Fine Tuscan Dinner At Cibreo TrattoriaCibreo
is one of Florence’s most famous restaurants. Here you will find the most unique and authentic Tuscan cuisine. World-class chefs prepare delicate meals with the freshest of ingredients that are always in line with the seasons.
Dress Up & Hit The Dancefloor
Florence has a thriving nightlife scene. At Yab make sure you dress up to the nines, grab a fancy cocktail and rub shoulders with locals and tourists alike.
Finish At The Sophisticated St. Regis
Wind down in the decadence of the St. Regis Florence . The hotel is located by the river and boasts gorgeous city views. The perfect end to a perfect Florentine adventure.
The dream companion to your insiders guide to Florence? The perfect 24 hours in Rome .