Country: Italy
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Peak Season: July-August
Shoulder Season: April-June, September-October
Median Temperature: 14.80 C / 58.64 F
Main Languages: Italian, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 2 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $130.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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Florence is both the cornerstone and catalyst of the Renaissance movement in Europe. Knowing this, the avid reader would likely associate it with spellbinding architecture, historic buildings, and pragmatic urban planning. And it indeed does not compromise, because even today, Florence remains to be one of the most illustrious cities in the world, and very well-preserved for that matter – galvanizing a salvo of stoked tourists every year. Travelers will be pleased to see the culmination of Italy’s greatest minds— Alberti, Brunelleschi, Da Vinci, and Palladio—in the guises of Florentine architecture and art.

Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region in Central Italy. Every other large city—Bologna, Genoa, Venice, and Milan—are north of Florence, while Rome is the only major city located south.

Getting to these major cities is quite convenient and affordable via the comprehensive railway system. If you’re torn between going to Rome or Florence, we recommend visiting both, because you’ll get to each city in less than three hours. There are many things to do in Rome; Florence exudes more depth in its effortlessness. Tourists usually begin their long excursions in Rome; while in Florence, travelers can easily whisk into the next tourist attraction is just a few alleys away because of the small size of the city.

Despite the beautiful palazzos, galleries, museums, cathedrals, and loggias, Florence (in its golden age and waning reign) was not meant to romanticize. No—its real purpose was to exude its reach, power, and grasp to neighboring cities and countries, and it constantly reminded locals how they should also pursue humanism and art. The influential Medici Family (who arguably held the strings of Florence) had their hands full with then-quintessential machineries of finance, politics, and religion. Having said that, there is more breadth to Florence than what meets the eye.

Packing List

  • Credit/debit cards, as both are widely honored in the city; almost every street has an ATM machine
  • Breathable shoes and thin socks; the narrow streets, hot pavement and cumbersome traffic will force you to walk
  • Decent, seasonal clothing; many historical sites (especially cathedrals) does not permit sleeveless tops on ladies and shorts on men
  • A GPS device, smartphone or street map; even frequenters have lost themselves inside Florentian alleys in broad daylight
  • Toiletries, essential medication and outlet adapters; you’ll also need these on your trip to the rest of Italy

Things to Do

  • Overlooking the city and the mountains atop the famous terrace of Piazzale Michelangelo; the square is best visited at any time of the day, and famous landmarks are intensely illuminated at night
  • Visiting Florence Cathedral or simply “Duomo,” the most prominent structure in the city; its massive dome was designed by Brunelleschi, a pioneer of Italian Renaissance architecture
  • Gazing at towering-yet-ornate Giotto’s Campanile, part of the Florence Cathedral complex, whose lean structure stands at 277.9 ft, easily noticeable from many vantage points in the city
  • Enjoying a romantic walk along one of Europe’s oldest bridges—Ponte Vecchio—where the Arno River runs through; several shops flank the walkway
  • Strolling at serene Boboli Gardens, famous for its eclectic selection of Roman sculptures

DON'T

  • Wear heels or anything that can hamper your gait, unless you’re used to trudging heels along cobblestone
  • Entertain or indulge gypsies (especially children); crime is nearly nonexistent, however, be cautious when in train stations or crowded attractions
  • Make Florence a “relaxation” venue; tourists often spend too much time inside restaurants and hotel rooms, forgetting the hidden attractions that can only be reached by foot
  • Forget that Italians are playful and easy to get along with, however a bit condescending if they see you dress tacky and differently
  • Board meter-less taxis, leave luggage unattended, walk without looking both sides, and allow yourself to get caught in a shady region of the city