I’ve been around the globe and back; I’ve traveled all across nearly every continent, but I still have yet to find any place that quite matches the unique allure of Florence. Maybe it’s the history, the fact that fantastic displays of art and culture admired for centuries hang just past every corner. It could be the food, an overabundance of cuisine honoring adventure and tradition, bursting with flavor; tastes, colors and smells overlapping into a sensational collage of vibrancy unmatched. Or perhaps it’s simply the people, whose openness and kind manner are better felt for oneself than described by another.
Whatever the reason, one fact is undeniable: I love Florence, and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to travel there and cultivate their own sense of adoration for this dear city. But even in the best of places, getting around can be confusing for anyone new, and suggestions can be helpful. That’s why I’ve made this list, where you’ll find five of my favorite things to see and do in the city of Florence.
Marvel at the Duomo
For newcomers to Florence, the Cathedral de Santa Maria del Fiore (also called the Duomo) is simple to spot. Its giant bronze dome looms above neighboring structures, commanding the skyline. Constructed over the span of 150 years, the architectural marvel’s exterior sports a masterful motif of flowing shapes and sculptures, while the inside of the Duomo’s dome portion is decorated with one unbelievably detailed, continuous fresco.
Grab a gelato at GROM
From serious ice cream fanatics prowling for the world’s most flavorful cone to casual enjoyers of icy treats, anyone who enjoys ice cream should stop by GROM for a taste of Florence’s best gelato. My personal favorite is their year round speciality, Cremia di GROM, which blends soft cookies, organic egg and Valrhona Ecuadorian chocolate into luscious, frosty pleasure for the taste buds.
Relax in the countryside
Florence is a fantasy for millions; every day the city hosts thousands of people, all seeking the charm which permeates florentine streets and piazzas. Navigating around Florence’s crowds might occasionally drain you, so if you’re ever in need of a reboot, consider visiting the Tuscan countryside. There’s something undeniably relaxing about strolling past rolling hills and rustic villas, and a few (like the Villa il Palmerino), occasionally offer a cultural buffet of tours, concerts, lectures and gourmet dinners.
Pay David a visit
If it’s already your mission to visit one of the world’s greatest cities, you might as well take the time to stop at the Galleria dell’Accademia, and be awed by the world’s greatest sculpture, Michelangelo’s David.
Listen to beautiful music
You don’t have to be religious to experience the goose bump-inducing melodies of concerts and operas which frequently take place in many of Florence’s churches. Some smaller venues (like St. Mark’s English Church) even perform free.