Fancy a more cultural getaway? Why not consider Florence, Italy.
Sun, sea and sand not what you’re looking for? If you fancy a little change, maybe Italy could be the holiday destination for you this year.
In just a short two hour flight, you could be in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Florence, the capital city of Tuscany, Italy, is well-known for its renaissance art and stunning architecture.
Breathtaking buildings such as The Duomo and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore are main features of the city.
If you’re up for 463 steps up a spiral staircase to the top of The Duomo, or 414 to the top of the Bell Tower, you can see incredible views of Florence in 360 degrees.
We recommend doing one in daylight and one at dusk to see Florence in all its wonder.
Prepare yourself for the leg ache in the days to come, but it’s 100% worth it.
Treat yourself to some chocolate from the Lindt shop at the bottom of The Duomo. You will deserve it.
For 15€ you can buy an all in one ticket for entry to The Duomo, the Cathedral, the Bell Tower and Baptistery. The ticket lasts for 48 hours, so you can spread the visits over two days. When purchasing tickets, you must reserve a time slot for The Duomo, so consider this when booking.
Take advantage of Florence’s art galleries and museums. A lot of them are free to enter on the first Sunday of the month, so try and plan your trip at the beginning of the month. Don’t forget to pack your student card, as those that are not free do offer a reduced entry fee for students.
Some of the galleries you may want to visit include the Galleria Dell’Academia, home to Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture, the Leonardo da Vinci Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery, to name a few. The Uffizi houses artwork and sculptures in over 100 rooms, across three floors. It is the most visited art gallery in Italy. During summer, waiting times can reach up to five hours.
Galleries aren’t the only places to see artwork in Florence. You can find street art across the city, on the roads,
buildings and street signs. Artist, Clet Abraham, hacks street signs with vinyl stickers to create cheeky and humorous designs.
All of this walking is hungry work, so it’s a good job Italy is renowned for its cuisine. From pasta to pizza, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Try to avoid the main streets and tourist attractions when looking for a place to eat as they can be expensive. Instead, find hidden gems in the side streets. Be sure to check that there are other people in there as an empty restaurant is not a good sign. Do bare in mind that Italians tend to eat a little later than us Brits (around 7pm).
We would advise looking at menus before entering to check the prices. Be prepared to add 10% to your bill, as there are often hidden cover charges that are not included in the menu.
You might also want to take a day trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. It’s only a short one hour train journey away, costing just 16€ return. However, eat before you leave, as food in Pisa is a lot more expensive than in Florence. This day trip can be done in five hours, including trains, walking and sight seeing. This means you still have plenty of time to do other things back in Florence.
A cost-free activity you could squeeze in is the Piazzale Michelangelo (the viewpoint).
The walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo takes you over Florence’s famous bridge the Ponte Vecchio. The medieval bridge sits over the Arno River, and is noted for still having shops (consisting of mainly jewelers) along it. During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was one of the only bridges not destroyed by Germans, apparently due to an express order by Hitler.
A picturesque stone staircase takes you up to the viewpoint, allowing you to overlook the city from a higher point.
Florence is a small city, and wouldn’t look out of place in Game of Thrones. There is lots to do and even more things to admire. You’ll come home feeling cultured and inspired, with itchy feet desperate to go again.