This blog post was updated on October 10, 2018.
When I told most people I was headed to Florence for the summer, some of the reactions I received were those of, “Oh, that tourist trap.” Florence doesn’t need billboards or ad campaigns to bring in visitors. However, its popularity shouldn’t be a reason to not visit the city so picture perfect and intact, you forget what time period you have found yourself. With the turn of the corner or the lick of a fragola gelato, Florence proves time travel is possible. Get over the fact that the city has won a few popularity contests. The crowds are all here for a reason, several in fact.
1. Eat Gelato, Again and Again: Florence is supposedly the birthplace of gelato. Catherine di Medici couldn’t get enough of a creation by a man by the last name Buontalenti, meaning “good talents”. Talented indeed, having traveled from the bottom of Sicily up to the northern border of Italy, the Florentine gelato seems to have something over all of the others. Perhaps some may disagree, but when in Florence, eat gelato.
2. Climb to the top of the Duomo: Some 400 steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s orange dome may be difficult to complete after all of that gelato. However, the huffing and puffing is well worth the view at the top. A 360-degree view of Florence will have you seeing a creamsicle color palette. The cohesive architecture of the city is best appreciated from perhaps Florence’s greatest architectural wonder.
3. Go in a museum for Michelangelo’s sake: While the entire city of Florence looks like it could be in a museum, head inside to one of the many museums in the city. While the Uffizi holds the snaking lines and Boticellis and the Galleria dell’Accademia contains the most famous David in the world, travelers shouldn’t neglect the Bargello for its sculpture or the Pitti Palace for a plethora of plenty of grand paintings.
4. Watch the sun rise or set on the city’s bridges: The Ponte Vecchio tends to get the most attention in Florence for its gold vendors and intact medieval structure. However at sunrise or sunset, the main draw becomes the Florentine sky. Perched on Ponte Santa Trinita or Ponte alla Carraia, it is easy to see how the light of Florence inspired artists on their canvases. At sunrise, the streets of Florence hear pins drop. You can have that Renaissance sky to yourself in the early hours.
5. Go on a nature walk: I often hear that other travelers dislike the lack of green spaces in Florence. What many fail to realize is that on the other side of the River Arno, an entire city awaits, peppered with trees and rolling hills. If you walk over the Ponte Vecchio, you will eventually hit Giardino di Boboli. With beautiful views of Florence and organized Renaissance greenery surrounding, the Boboli Gardens lend the nature most are craving while in the city. Those that don’t want to pay to see Florence’s green spaces can continue through Porta Romana to the less traveled Giardino Del Bobolino. Quiet fountains, lazy, low-lying branches, and Florence peaking through Tuscan hillside makes for the picture postcard view of the city.