Florence is a feast for the eyes; one masterpiece after another fills this spectacular domed city. From above, Florence is a sea of scarlet-tiled roofs nestled among the stunning vineyard landscapes of romantic Tuscany. Home to the Medici family, the most progressive art patrons in history, Florence boasts some of the world’s most sublime artistic treasures.
One of the best representations of this can be seen in the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels). Built by the powerful family as mausoleums, they reflect the family’s immense wealth and influence. Semi-precious stones, works of art and sculptures designed by Michelangelo fill these stunning buildings.
The nearby 16th century Uffizi Gallery is one of the finest galleries on earth. Home to the Medici collection it also houses breathtaking masterpieces, including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Primavera and Leonardo Da Vinci's Annunciation. Fans of Michelangelo must visit the Accedemia Gallery where his most famous piece, the huge marble statue of David, resides in all its awe-inspiring glory.
Taking over 150 years to complete, Brunelleschi's Duomo is the city’s main cathedral and the oldest building in Florence. With a towering dome that appears to float high above the skyline, it defines the city. A wander along the banks of the River Arno reveals yet another jewel, the 14th century Ponte Vecchio Bridge. Built on stilts, the ancient shop fronts still remain, while at night it gives one of the best views of Florence as she sparkles in the dark.
Miniato Hill provides another excellent vantage point from which to view the city, as well as a lovely rural walk to relax and escape the crowds. The fertile olive groves of nearby Siena and the beautiful gardens of Boboli with their grottos and fountains, also promise tranquillity and respite from the hoards.
Back in the city those seeking retail therapy will not be disappointed; from San Lorenzo Market stretching from Piazza San Lorenzo to Via dell’Ariento, to designers Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Cavalli and more. Gastronomically, Florence is equally as elegant with sumptuous restaurants and cafes serving gastronomic delights and some of the most delicious gelato ever to grace a cone.
As romantic weekends go, the passion, the elegance and the perfection of Florence makes it a hard one to beat.
The following information is correct as of October 2014 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Florence Petreola Airport is located 3 miles from Florence city centre. It can be reached by car in approximately 15 minutes. A bus service operates every half an hour from outside the terminal building with a journey time of 25 minutes. Shuttle bus services also connect Florence airport with Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. Taxis are also available and take approximately 15 minutes to reach the city centre.
Flying in to Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport is another possibility, with direct trains running to Florence taking approximately and hour and a half. Terravision operate a bus service to Florence city centre, taking just 70 minutes.
What you need to know
Currency: The Euro (€)
Visas: British nationals and those from European Union member states do not require a visa to enter Italy. A passport valid for the duration of stay is required. Nationals of other countries may require a visa to visit Italy. More information can be obtained from a local embassy or the Foreign Office website.
Laws: In Florence, fines are imposed on anyone dropping litter. It is also an offence to sit or eat and drink on the steps or in the courtyards of churches and public buildings. Identification must be carried at all times by law. The legal age for smoking and consuming alcohol is 16 across Italy. Smoking is banned in all public places.
Best Time to Visit
Florence doesn’t lose its beauty in the winter months, despite the weather being a little on the cold side. The summer months are hot and humid often reaching into the 30 degrees Celsius. Summer is definitely high season with a greater number of tourists, while May and September see fewer visitors and more comfortable temperatures. There are many wonderful events held in Florence throughout the year. The Grand Parade takes place in February with floats, puppets, dragons, horseback riders and colourful characters representing the ethnic diversity of the city. Easter Sunday sees traditional processions and festivities while April, May and June bring festivals of opera and dance. Opera lovers must stay for the Festival Pucciniano (Puccini festival) in August where the composer's great works are celebrated in open-air theatres across the country. In September the La Rificolona festival (festival of the paper lanterns) has children dancing and singing, carrying lanterns through the streets of Florence. Those who enjoy running can take part in the Florence Marathon in November.
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