Looking for what to do in Florence, Italy?
Studying at SRISA means more than just classes; it’s an opportunity to explore Florence. Beyond the classroom is a city waiting to be discovered. So, if you are wondering what to do in Florence, get out and walk its historic streets, soak in its culture, and explore its rich history.
How do I spend a perfect day in Florence?
This guide is just a taste of the many must-see places for study abroad students or those who planned multiple day trips through Tuscany and beyond with Florence on their list.
Start your day with a visit to the Duomo
The Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore), Florence’s majestic cathedral, is a masterpiece of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Its iconic dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, still holds the record as the largest masonry vault in the world, offering breathtaking views of the city, as does Giotto’s Campanile if you’re up for the climb. Adorned with intricate marble facades, it’s a testament to Florence’s artistic prowess and a must-visit symbol of the city’s rich history.
Discover the Uffizi, Italy’s most famous museum
Initiated in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari for Cosimo I de’ Medici, the building served to centralize Florence’s administrative functions, earning its name “Uffizi” or “offices.” The top floor became a gallery, showcasing the Medici family’s Roman sculpture collection and hosting gatherings for guests.
Today, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the most visited art museums, with one of the most extensive collections of Renaissance art. Be sure to see Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci’s intriguing Annunciation are but a few masterpieces to explore.
Florence street food for the perfect lunch
Near the Uffizi Gallery and Piazza Signoria are local street food vendors called “trippiao” or “sciacciateria.” Try lampredotto, which is exclusively Florentine and a fundamental part of the local food culture. For the best schiacciata in town, try Da’ Vinattieri, located near Museo Casa di Dante.
After lunch, take a walk through Florence’s main square, Piazza della Signoria where the town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, sits. To the left is an outdoor sculpture gallery called the Loggia dei Lanzi hosting a collection of mythical sculptures from artists such as Giambologna and Benvenuto Cellini.
Visit the Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge that survived WWII. Originally housing leather tanners and butchers, it was repurposed in 1565 to house jewelers and goldsmiths who still occupy it today.
On the other side of the Ponte Vecchio is the Oltrarno district in Florence, offering a glimpse into the authentic heart of the city. One of the Oltrarno’s defining features is its artisan workshops. This area has a rich tradition of craftsmanship, and you can still find skilled artisans at work, producing everything from leather goods and jewelry to frames and silk textiles.
Discover hidden gems like the Brancacci Chapel with its mesmerizing Masaccio frescoes and the Santo Spirito Basilica, another architectural masterpiece by Brunelleschi. These sites offer a quieter and more intimate experience compared to the crowded attractions in the city center.
Florence at night
One of the most enjoyable things is to finish your day with an aperitivo. It’s the perfect time to relax before dinner and chat with friends. While ending your exploration of the Oltrarno, a favorite spot to grab an aperitivo or even dinner during the week is the Circolo Rendinella del Torrino, located on the Arno under a mass of trees. Listen to the sound of the river and the lively conversations of the San Frediano locals. You’ll need to pay a small “club” fee of 3 euros, but it’s worth it.
How do I prepare for a trip to Florence, Italy?
Preparing for your trip to Florence is crucial to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential steps to help you:
- Travel Documents: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date. As of 2024, American nationals will need a visa for Italy. If you’re a student at SRISA, ensure you have all the necessary documents for your studies.
- Travel Insurance: For peace of mind, consider purchasing travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and baggage loss or theft.
- Finances: Notify your bank about your travel dates to avoid any issues with your cards. Have euros on hand for your arrival, and be aware of currency exchange rates.
- Packing: Florence has a temperate climate. Pack layers for the weather, and bring comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city. Also, pack an adapter for Italian power outlets.
- Language: While many in Florence speak English, learning a few basic Italian phrases can be very helpful and appreciated by locals.
What are the best months to travel to Florence, Italy?
Choosing the right time to visit Florence can significantly impact your experience. Here’s an overview of the best months to consider:
- Spring (April to June): Spring in Florence is magical. The weather is mild, and the city’s gardens and parks burst with colorful blooms.
- Summer (July to August): Summers can be hot and crowded, as this is the peak tourist season. It’s ideal for enjoying outdoor events and al fresco dining.
- Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another fantastic season. The weather remains pleasant, and the city is less crowded.
- Winter (December to February): Winters in Florence are mild compared to other parts of Europe. It’s ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed visit with vibrant Christmas markets and enchanting holiday lights.
- Shoulder Seasons: Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons, March and October, when the weather is still pleasant and there are fewer tourists.
Plan accordingly. Famous cultural events, such as holidays and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, may influence travel dates.
Florence is a beautiful and vibrant city with something to offer everyone. Don’t forget to leave room for unexpected encounters and spontaneous moments. After all, it is in the unscripted discoveries that Florence truly reveals its soul. Florence is an ideal destination for studying abroad, offering a blend of history, culture, and cuisine.
Still curious about things to do in Florence or what it’s like to study abroad? Head over to our blog and discover more.