A huge plus about Florence is that it is very compact, so you can explore the city on foot very easily in just a few days. Having said that, because the city is so popular, we highly recommend that if you want to go inside any of the famous historical buildings or see an exhibition, you should book entrance tickets in advance… the queues outside the Duomo, the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio were particularly long.
With this in mind, we caught up with our friend, Anna, who arranges special experiences for visitors to the city, and also to the surrounding countryside in Tuscany. As well as booking tickets for museums, galleries special events and tours within the city, there were some other very interesting options – one of which I tried and loved! It was a punting trip on a ‘barchetto’ (similar to a gondola) down the Arno. It gave us a completely different perspective of the city and also gave us some much-needed respite from the crowds. The specialized guide explained the history of the city and its fascinating historic relationship with the Arno River. The tour starts and ends on the river just below the Uffizi Gallery which is conveniently located close to the Piazza della Signoria where you can enjoy a cappuccino on the outdoor terrace of the historic Rivoire Café.
The many and diverse experiences which can be arranged include a walking tour through the charming Oltrarno, plus special trips to the vineyards of Chianti and the Siena Palio.
Via del Proconsolo, 3 | Tel. 055 26627
When you take the lift to the 6th Floor, you will be looking at one of the most amazing views in Florence. Encompassing the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its incredible 90-metre high Cupola del Brunelleschi on your right and the Palazzo Vecchio on your left, the view is particularly spectacular at night!
The Piazza del Mercato is home to Florence's famous and very tempting fresh food market, a must-visit for anyone interested in food, even if not self-catering in their apartment! It is open Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., with additional Saturday hours from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
In the same piazza you will find a great lunch spot, Trattoria ZaZa, with very pretty interiors and a large and varied menu, ranging from light starter dishes and salads to more substantial pasta dishes and main courses.
Piazza Santa Spirito 9 | Tel. 055 2658376
Another find for evening drinks on a rooftop garden bar, created in the loggia of a friendly, character-filled hotel in the delightful Piazza Santo Spirito. From here you can sit in comfort and enjoy a glass of Tuscan wine as you admire the rooftops of the historic centre and the Florentine Hills.
Via Romana 70 | Tel. 055 2286018
If you are looking for a unique restaurant experience in which to enjoy the best of Tuscan cooking, look no further than this Osteria in the Oltrarno. First, choose from a delicious menu, then the waiter will take you to the Wine Wall to advise you on the best wine to complement your dish. The refined Tuscan menu prepared with fresh, local ingredients is fantastic – and if you haven’t already sampled the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina, this is definitely the place to try it!
Via de' Vellutini, 1r | Tel. 055 218562
We have been returning to this lively restaurant in the Oltrarno, very close to the Pitti Palace, for years now and we have never been disappointed. It is always busy (essential to book), has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and serves good local cuisine.
3 bedrooms, sleeps 6
Spacious, newly decorated and modern, this three-bedroom apartment has full direct views of the Ponte Vecchio.
3 bedrooms, sleeps 6 - 8
A unique Florence apartment on the top floor of an elegant 15th century Florentine Palazzo, with views over the Arno and the city centre. All three bedrooms open to private terraces and there is also a roof terrace.
3 bedrooms, sleeps 6 - 8
In a quiet street, just around the corner from Piazza Santa Croce, this Palazzo apartment is accessed via a courtyard, ensuring a peaceful stay. With original high vaulted, frescoed ceilings, this property is full of character and the charming owners will do everything they can to enhance your stay.