Florence (Firenze in Italian), one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is the birthplace of Italian Renaissance.
What is Italian Renaissance?
Renaissance means ‘rebirth’. At the beginning of 1400s, influencers of that time recognized that they were living in a new age of art & culture. They started studying the human body to be able to articulate it in the form of art (paintings, sculptures, architecture, etc.).
Now *wink* some of these influencers are called->
- Filippo Brunelleschi (Italian architect- founding father of Renaissance architecture)
- Giotto di Bondone
- Leonardo da Vinci (Italian polymath)
- Michelangelo (Italian sculptor)
- Raphael (Italian painter & architect)
- Donatello (Italian sculptor)
These influencers CHANGED THE WORLD and are the biggest reason we all love going to Europe. *wink*
1-> Places to stay
If you wish to experience any city in the highest & best way, you must aim to stay as close as possible to the most beautiful part of the city. In our case, we (Rajeev & I) have consciously decided to start living in Airbnb’s because the experience is marvellous and makes us feel like locals and what better way to explore a country, right?
1.i) Airbnb right in front of the Duomo
This was our first Airbnb which was in a vintage (heritage) building and the decor of this house just threw us back in 1500s. I kid you not, this is hands down the most beautiful medieval home I’ve lived in. I felt like a really important aristocrat.
The reason we chose this was that we wanted to live at a place where we had a walking access to the city centre. This beautiful home was RIGHT IN FRONT of the most iconic cathedral I’ve seen. We literally could see the cathedral (duomo) from my window all day everyday. Trust me, a view cannot get prettier than this and the pictures below will be a testament to this-
1.ii) Airbnb at River Arno
Two of the most majestic spots in Florence are the Duomo & Ponte Vecchio.
is a small bridge built on the Arno river in the year 1218. It was a bridge where initally butchers & fishermen set up their shops until the Medici family (ruling family) commanded to replace the butcher shops with jewellery shops. The Medici family residence was close to Ponte Vecchio and they couldn’t bear the smell … hence the command for change. This happened in 1593 and till today Ponte Vecchio has all the designer watch & jewellery stores you could ask for. Be it Audermars Piguet, Rolex, Cartier, U-Boat, JLC… and many many more! It’s all there on this iconic bridge.
Ponte Vecchio (bridge) is THE OLDEST because it is THE ONLY BRIDGE in Florence that survived WW2.
I had to share this with you for you to understand how big a deal it was for us to stay in an Airbnb which had a view of Ponte Vecchio & St. Trinity Bridge.
St. Trinity Bridge
An iconic bridge of Firenze, St. Trinity Bridge has a history of it’s own. This bridge was constucted by an iconic architect & sculptor in 1566. WW2 destroyed this bridge completely but the Italians restored the bridge soon after using the original stones which makes it look like an exact replica of the 1566 version. Italians surely know how to conserve their treasures. Walking on this bridge put both R & I in a different realm all together. This bridge is so scenic & pretty. And guess what?
Our Airbnb on river Arno had a view of both the bridges – Ponte Vecchio & St, Trinity (picures below)
2-> Mercato Centrale & San Lorenzo market
Mercato Centrale or central market, is a one stop shop for “Florentines” to purchase their fresh food produce in bulk. It’s a very big area where the ground floor has shops selling fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, spices, oils, pasta, etc. The upper level is where one can try authentic Italian food & coffee in a humble way. Mercato Centrale was a place where we often went for brekkie, which for Italians is, cappucino/espresso & cake/cannoli/ croissant. We did all our Italian ingredient shopping for back home, here at Mercato Centrale.
Proof below 😉
Also, know that the shopkeepers here will very very generously make you taste each and everything so that’s something you ALWAYS SAY YES TO. Visiting Mercato Centrale brought me closer to the Italian cuisine and all the ingredients that are so beautifully put together.
San Lorenzo market is a famous leather market right outside Mercato Centrale where hand-made leather products are sold. Since I have quit purchasing leather bags, I would encourage you to gracefully walk past this part of the city.
3-> Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) & Piazza Della Duomo
This is the most jaw-dropping monument I have seen because of the intricacy of the architecture there. Our walking tour guide gave us all the details behind the history of this monument and I couldn’t help but wonder in awe…
How can a fellow human be so so so artistic, creative & talented?
You need to see the pictures to know what I’m talking about.
I strongly recomend you to go to
and see all the fantastic options you’ve got. They have free as well as paid walking tours. Free walking tours are TIP based which means, after the tour you pay as much as you wish. 🙂 I can assure you that you will NOT REGRET doing this. It’s simply awesome.
4-> Piazza della Signoria
is a very beautiful square of Florence where you can find the replica of David, Neptune Fountain, an open-air art gallery, Palazzo Vecchio (Medici family residence) among Gucci Garden, Chanel, etc. This, one can say, is a paradise square of Florence where you would want to visit at least 2-3 times per day. Make sure you come here a bit early to get the best pictures clicked which otherwise isn’t possible because it’s almost always flooded with tourists, students & locals alike.
5-> Piazzale Michelangelo- sunset viewpoint with sweeping views of Florence
If you’re into sunsets or views or… sunsets & views, you gotta walk upto this gorgeous spot. It offers breathtaking views of the city and every evening locals, students and tourists gather together with their respective picnic baskets and a bottle of vino to gawk at the setting sun and the magnificence of Florence in the golden hour.
6-> Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens
Palazzo Pitti or Pitti palace is a ginormous Renaissance palace from 1458. This palace belonged to the Florentine banker Luca Pitti and was later bought by the mighty Medici family. “Medici family” are the two words you will both hear & read a lot in Florence. I once again urge you to do walking tours here please. If you visit a foreign land and return without wallowing in it’s history, it’s story… then what’s the point?!
7-> Walking Art Tour
Link for more deets:
All I want to say is that R & I couldn’t do this tour because of the coronavirus situation due to which our tour got cancelled last minute. This will remain a regret forever which is why I want to encourage YOU to take this tour and tell me all about it. -(hug)-
8-> Guided Academia Gallery Tour
Link for deets: www.getyourguide.com/florence-l32/florence-michelangelo-s-david-guided-accademia-gallery-tour-t219513/
Once again, I say with a heavy heart that this tour got cancelled last minute. This shall remain a regret forever but you must do it and tell me all about it on firstname.lastname@example.org
9-> Day trips from Florence
Florence, capital city of the Tuscany region of Italy is a very good place to set your base for 5-7 days and do a bunch of day trips. Please check out the website below to explore your options. CiaoFlorence (travel company) gives pretty awesome tours at a very good price.
Must must must explore! Link below
Rajeev, recommends the following day trips from Firenze,
Bologna, aka, the food capital of Italy. This city, a short 40 min train ride away, has been nicknamed “La grassa” (the fat) to denote it’s rich culinary heritage; “La rossa” (the red) to denote the color of its buildings and “La dotta” (the learned) as a reference to Bologna University (the oldest in the Western world). Definately try the tortellini en brodo (tortellini pasta in broth)!
Tuscan delights- Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni & Chianti
A short drive from Firenze, you will find the hill-top towns of Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and the greater Chianti wine region. You can easily spend an entire day in Siena alone, admiring it’s medieval architecture and central piazza (which hosts the Palio, a historical horse race). San Gimignano is another Tuscan town surrounded by 13th century walls and is definately worth getting lost into for a few hours. Lastly, for the wine connoisseurs, the region of Chianti will appease any wine cravings you may have with it’s excellent wineries and estates that offer tastings and delicious cibo (food).
Cinque Terre- probably one of the most instagrammed regions in Italy, Cinque Terre, is a group of 5 (cinque) fishing villages that are a pleasant 2.5 hr train ride from Firenze. A day trip is definately not enough to explore this region. However, if you’re short on time, you can get a feel for the vibe of this region by visiting Riomaggiore, Manarola and Vernazza villages. Once there, you can purchase a rail card that gives you unlimited travel on the train that runs between these villages. Another option, for the physically active among us, is to hike between the villages. The pictures you will click in this region will remind you of la dolce vita (the sweet life) forever.
10-> Shopping Guide
This part of the blog post is for those of you who like Fashion with a capital F…you know who you are 😉
I’ve never been so creatively inspired before. Italians not just dress up well but they also make their OOTDs and OOTNs, very artsy. It’s a bit ditzy to step out of Italy without getting some pieces that will stay in your wardrobe for posterity.
Now, please don’t misunderstand this text and start shopping from Zara and H&M. I’m not talking about brands that are into fast fashion bullshit. I’m talking about brands that have a history, a story to tell, brands that use good quality materials that last forever.
Also, since most of the high-end luxury brands produce their goods in Italy, the tax refund is pretty epic here:
Chanel if you purchase from Italy, 14% (highest in the world)
Watches 17.5% (probably one of the highest in the world)
Other brands 12.5% (pretty awesome)
If you’ve made it till here, it means you’re an avid reader, a true traveller and a consistent person. Cheers to that.
Now, the reason I say this is my last holiday is because I’ve realized how overly passionate I am about traveling & exploring new regions, almost to a point that I get attached to my trips which as a healer I know isn’t going to serve me in the long run. So, unless I successfully work on my “attachment issues”, this remains to be my LAST HOLIDAY.
DID YOU KNOW?
The last descendant of the Medici family, Anna Maria Luisa, is single-handedly responsible for securing the position of Florence as the art capital of Italy. She made an agreement with the city to keep all of its art, architecture, paintings and sculptures within the city. This was the last precious gift from the Medici family to their beloved city.