I have to tell you. If you go to Italy, Florence is one of the must visit cities, even though only for one day. I have been in Firenze (Florence or Fiorentina, you name it) in 2010 and was extremely delighted by … well… the charms of the city. It is not Rome, It is not Venice… It’s Firenze. It’s Tuscany in a city. When you have just arrived at the train station Santa Maria Novella, you won’t believe me but when you are at Piazza Michelangelo, you will know what I mean.
There are so many beautiful destinations in Tuscany but the majority of travellers and tourists begin either in Pisa or in Florence. For me, both in 2009 and 2016, Florence was just a quick stop between two other beautiful destinations. I still think it is not enough to explore Florence thoroughly in one day but if you do have a tight schedule like we did, here are some places you ought to see and some tips you may find handy.
The river and Ponte Vecchio
The most visited touristic site in Firenze, after the Duomo. On this bridge you can see (mainly) tourists and jewellery shops. The history of this shops has dated back in the medieval age when one of the Medici’s family member ordered to build this bridge so that the family could cross easily in order to go to Palazzo Vecchio. At first there were many butchers’ shops on the bridge but since the Medici family did not like the smell of the meat they ordered that butchers shops had to move out and in exchange the jewellery shops moved in.
The characteristic of the building is fascinating. I still think that the Duomo in Florence is one of the most remarkable buildings in Italy after the leaning tower and the Colosseum. It has somehow a romantic charisma, yet vulnerability and strength. When you have lots of time and like to do it, do get inside the Duomo for the extra experience. When the crowdedness blows your mind, why not try to visit another church with a similar style, Santa Croce. If you take the hop in-hop off bus it will also stop at the Piazza Santa Croce.
The setting of Assasin’s Creed in Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza Della Signoria
My green pepper is a gamer and a fan of Assasin’s Creed. So the trip to Florence is a must because one of the places the game character had to go to was Florence. From the gamer point of view, he enjoyed being in that city. The game has in details descriptions about the city and he saw it directly when we were there. Virtual velocity in real time reality. He was really happy to finally see Florence. If you are a gamer, go to Florence and explore the city just like in Assasin’s Creed. It would be very cool, well except you can not jump from building to building just like in the game.
A warning: do not follow your eyes’ desire. When you want some gelato, look for a more quiet street, in the small alleys next to the main streets or famous tourist spots. Gelato is basically everywhere in Italy. I personally think, if you want to go authentic you should seek further more and try to spots where the locals hang out for some ice creams. One small cup of gelato or 1 or 2 scoops of ice cream will cost you around 6 euro on the touristic places. While if you want to look around for a while in the small alleys next to it, it will cost you only 2, 5 euro. In Bologna you don’t have this, even in a very busy streets like Via Ugo Bassi, you have the best gelato from Oggi and it cost you only 2,5 euro. In Florence is different. Try Carapina in Via Lambertesca just around the corner from Galleria Degli Uffizi. They have homemade gelato and a small coffee lounge behind the bar. So cute and the gelato was delicious.
However, the highlight of them all, the cherry on top when you visit Florence is Piazza Michelangelo! On a nice hot summer day you can see the whole city and the valleys that surround it. This is the spot when you have to take that panoramic pictures, family photos or selfies and directly upload it for the social media fans. You will be “wow-ed!” To go there you can take the tourist bus if you want, which you can find in front of the central station or you can walk. I have done both and both are pretty practical for different groups. Walk, when you travel alone or only with adults. Take the bus, when travelling with toddlers and seniors.
These are the routes which I think quite practical to see Florence in one day.
Walking (from central station): Duomo – Piazza Della Republica – Piazza Della Signoria – Galleria Degli Uffizi – Ponte Vecchio – Palazzo Pitti – Piazza de Michelangelo
Bus: Piazza Santa Croce – Piazza di Michelangelo – Boboli – Palazzo Pitti – Ponte Vecchio (then walk from there to…) – Galleria Degli Uffizi – Piazza Della Signoria – Piazza Della Republica – Duomo – Central Station.
When you also spend the evening in Florence, do not forget to try the culinary traditions the city offers. Some of which are the Bistecca alla Fiorentina (basically steak a la Florence), Trippa alla Fiorentina (tripe in olive oil, tomato and parmesan) or pappa al pomodoro (a sort of tomato soup).
Enjoy Florence en let me know about it!