Florence was the first city that I visited during my Italy by train trip. Florence was one of the wealthiest cities in medieval Europe. Besides that famous for its history and architecture. As architect I was excited to visit Florence and see the Florentine architecture.
The day before I arrived at Bologna airport and stayed in a hotel. Before my trip I booked a train ticket on internet with Frecciarossa for only 9 euro. The trip by train to Florence is only 35 minutes. Most of it goes through tunnels. Around 10am I arrived by train in Florence at the crowded Santa Maria Novella train station.
Early morning and despite the crowd at the train station, it still is quiet in the city centre. A good moment to visit Campanile and Florence cathedral first. This because there aren’t queues yet. I chose to climb Campanile instead of Florence Duomo. From Campanile it’s possible to make great photos of the Duomo. The huge Duomo looks spectacular and raises high above the other buildings. Florence cathedral itself is beautiful, but I have to be honest that I have seen cathedrals with an interior more impressive, although the paintings in the dome are wonderful. After that I went to Basilica della Santissima Annunziata. This only is few minutes away from Piazza del Duomo. Less touristic and also with beautiful paintings in the dome.
Mercato Centrale is a nice place to visit around lunch time. Eating a sandwich and buying some local delicacies like tapenade, meat and Italian herbs. If you are interested in buying fake clothing then the streets around Mercato Centrale also are the place to be.
While making my way to Ponte Vecchio I walked along Santa Maria Novella and Piazza della Repubblica. Ponte Vecchio was very crowded. Many guided tours that visit jewellers on the bridge, so I quickly continued to Palazzo Pitti. The long façade along the sloping square is impressive. I was unlucky that it was the first Monday of the month, so the nearby Boboli Gardens were closed. Despite that I walked upwards to Fort Belvedere, which unfortunately also was closed. Even if it was open, I doubt if the place is worth a visit because from outside it did not look very special to me.
Last main place of interest that I visited was Santa Croce and monastery. The wooden roof, tombstones on the floor and the Pazzi Chapel are amazing. Beautiful Florentine architecture and definitely worthwhile to visit! Also the inner court of the cloister looks very tranquil.
In the evening I walked again to the streets around Mercato Centrale. A good place to find an affordable meal. Another place to find cosy restaurants are the small alleys between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria where I walked later that night. After dinner it is nice to visit Piazza della Signoria in summer. Frequently there are free open air concerts and many people sit on the square and listen to the music. Piazza della Signoria also is a good place to take photos of the Florentine architecture like Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi and sculptures.
Where did I stay?
For a hotel I searched on Booking.com. I looked for cheap hotels or hostels with good reviews and at locations not too far from the city centre. In Florence I found a bed & breakfast next to Piazza del Duomo:
- B&B Piazza del Duomo, Florence. An old lady runs this B&B. Only €40, but some things to complain about like not the expected view to Duomo, a very small bathroom and a breakfast consisting of dry crackers and croissants. Luckily only one night, but unfortunately I can’t recommend this accommodation.