Florence is birthplace of the renaissance and the most beautiful place to explore as a couple, a solo traveler, or in our case a family. With a four-day weekend in our calendar, I decided that a quick little getaway to Florence would be perfect. The weather was projected to be cool, but not rainy, and with it being the end of tourist season I was hopeful we would be able to explore with a smaller amount of crowds.
I found the most adorable Hotel that ended up being absolutely perfect for us. The SunHouse included a free place we could park our car (it was only a 4 hour drive from our home), bikes we could borrow, an adorable room with the bedroom in an upstairs loft and only a 5 minute walk to town. Plus, the host was incredibly kind and had an adorable puppy we fell in love with.
When I began planning our trip I turned to Pinterest to find some inspiration of things to see and to put together a Florence Bucket List. Included in the list were the Duomo, the Baptistry, the Basilica of Santa Croce, Point Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, seeing David at the Accademia, visiting the Uffizi Gallery, the DaVinci Museum, eating a Florentine Steak, finding a leather bag and a few other small off the wall things I found on Atlas Obscura <—– my FAVORITE site lately!
Duomo: We purchased tickets before hand to climb the duomo and the bell tower. Entrance to the church is free however the line is never less than a 2 hour wait. We really wanted to see inside but couldn’t justify spending that much time waiting in line so we didn’t end up going inside. There are different lines for the free entrance to the church, to climb the bell tower and to climb the duomo. While you are climbing the duomo you do get some views of the interior so we were content with that. If you do happen to go inside, make sure you go down to the crypts. Wearing church appropriate clothes is mandatory, and be prepared to climb A LOT of steps. The duomo has 463 steps and the bell tower has 414! Stretch your legs afterwards, its hard work!
The Baptistry is just a stones throw from the giant Cathedral and features 13th century gold mosaics that illustrate the Last Judgment on the ceiling. This is the place where florentines were once baptized. Church appropriate clothes are also mandatory, we took and peek and continued on as there isn’t much to see inside.
Basilica di Santa Croce: While seeing some of the original church from it’s early days here, I’ll admit the main draw is the fact that Gallileo Galilie & Machiavellis tombs are here. We ended up not going in although I wish we had! We did find a place to sit and people watch while having a snack from a cafe across the street.
The Accademia was definitely one of the top things on our list of places to stop by. We purchased tickets in advance and I am so glad we got skip the line tickets because it was so nice to just waltz right in! The Accademia is a fine art museum that now houses Michaelangelo’s famous David. Some interesting facts we learned about David: his top portion is actually larger so that it looks in proportion when people view David from below. It took 4 days and FORTY men to move David from the Opera del Duomo to the Piazza Della Signoria where he stood for 350 years until 1873. To this day, seeing David is Presleys top Italian experience and she loved sitting down on a bench to draw him to earn points in her Florence Scavenger Hunt Book.
Palazzo Vecchio: We explored this Piazza that is right near the Uffizi Gallery (which we didn’t make it into) but found some of Michelangelo’s graffiti hidden right in plain site.
Pharmacy Novella: The pharmacy dates from 1612 and is the oldest operating Pharmacy in the world. Inside you can see 800 year old medicinal recipes and purchase soaps, hand creams, perfumes, and a variety of other extremely overpriced but delicious products.
The Boboli Gardens were designed by the Medicins in 1550s and cover a lot of ground! It was a gorgeous day to just wander and breathe in all the beauty. We even found this insane cave full of the most interesting formations. People brought blankets and were reading and snuggling, it was amazing!
Ponte Vecchio – Oldest bridge in florence that is now lined with jewelry shops. Built in 1345, more than 650 years old. In the old days however leather tanners and butchers had workshops here, the smell was really bad especially as the workers threw their trash right into the river. In 1593 Duke Ferdinand put an end to these stinky trades on the bridge and the goldsmiths have been gold smithing here ever seen. The fascinating tidbit on this bridge is that it was the only bridge to not be destroyed during World War II due to an express order from Hitler when the Germans were advancing on the British Army in 1944.
Of course, after wandering museums and biking all around Florence we took a break so Presley could explore the DaVinci Museum! It was fun reading about all of DaVincis inventions, and how they worked while testing them out. Presley had a blast and we ended up staying a few hours.
Of course, what is a trip to Florence without getting a Florentine Steak?
If you are planning your own FLORENCE trip, send me an email with the subject ‘florence’ and I’ll gladly send you our full itinerary with price breakdown, links for ticket purchases and more to help you plan your own trip!