Things to do in Florence

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At the end of August we spent a week in Florence with my family. Compiling this post, it's no wonder we were all so tired by the end of it – we did so much. It's a city with a lot of things to do, art galleries, markets, viewpoints, eating your weight in gelato.

So if you're headed to Florence, here are a few ideas to get you started:

The Duomo

First things first, go to the Duomo. We probably walked passed it ten times a day but every time we couldn't help but stop and look up.

The Duomo

Stroll around

Florence is incredibly beautiful. Pretty much every Italian town we've been to has been lovely, but Florence is really something special. And even in August (peak tourist season) it was easy to get away from the crowds by ducking down the shady backstreets. The Oltrarno (artisan quarter) is particularly nice.

Shady backstreets

Colourful buildings

Art

There are so many art galleries, it's impossible to see them all on a short trip. The two most famous ones are the Uffizi and the Academia, home to Michelangelo's David. The queues were long but so worth it (even for someone like me who isn't really into Renaissance art).

The roof of the Academia

David

Inside the Uffizi

Ponte Vecchio

During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence that wasn't destroyed by the Nazis, apparently because Hitler thought it was too beautiful. It's lined with souvenir shops and tourist restaurants these days, so the best view is from either side of it.

The Ponte Vecchio

Markets

Our favourite place to eat was Mercado Centrale. The ground floor and surrounding streets hold stalls selling fruit and vegetables, meats and cheeses, and the upper level is a gourmet food court.

We visited Sant'Ambrogio too, a more local market, and even just walking around the city you'll see the odd fruit and veg stall.

A random food stall

Each week there are also flower, book and flea markets, but they weren't on when we were there (they close in August).

Look for Clet Abraham's signs

Artist Clet Abraham has altered lots of signs around the city that are fun to spot as you walk around.

An altered street sign

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy

This is the oldest operating pharmacy in the world. It still uses the original 800-year-old recipes and you can browse through all sorts of bottles and potions.

A list of medicines

There are old bottles everywhere

Cimitero Delle Porte Sante

A steep walk from the Piazzale Michelangelo is a little cemetery with great views of the city.

A cemetery with a view

Eat gelato

Every afternoon around 3pm, tired from walking around in the sun, we'd stop for gelato. We tried a different place each day and every single one was great.

Ice cream at Grom

Handmade cones

So many flavours!

Museo Galileo

This was probably my favourite thing we did in Florence. It's full of all sorts of scientific instruments dating back to the 15th century, including Galileo's telescopes.

image

Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

There are a few places you can go to get a good view of Florence (like the cemetery I mentioned earlier), but this one was our favourite – what a beautiful city.

Sunset in Florence

Go on a day trip to Pisa

Pisa is just an hour away on the train. From the station it's an easy walk through the city, passed the Keith Haring mural and quiet little backstreets to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Keith Haring mural

A little market

Inside the cathedral The leaning tower

Where to eat

I expected Florence to be somewhere with lots of overpriced tourist restaurants, so I was surprised by how many great cheap eats there were.

Pizza at the market

Lunch at the market

Mozarella and ham panini

A raw burger

For more on Italy, check out my posts on Bologna, Rome and Puglia.