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Destination Spotlight: Florence Travel Guide
Issue #39-23 features a Destination Spotlight travel guide on Florence, Italy including highlights of the city, as well as a look at the best places to stay, where to eat and the top things to see
Destination Spotlight on Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy, is a city of unparalleled beauty and culture. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is home to some of the world's most iconic works of art, architecture, and sculpture. From the towering Duomo to the delicate sculptures of Michelangelo, Florence is a feast for the senses.
Florence, Italy, is a captivating city where history and modernity coexist seamlessly.
Its iconic Florence Cathedral, the Duomo, stands as a testament to its architectural splendor. The city is a living museum, housing treasures like the Uffizi Gallery, where Renaissance masters' works come to life. Florence's streets, winding through a UNESCO World Heritage historic center, are a journey through time, where each corner tells a story. The aroma of Tuscan cuisine lures you into traditional trattorias, offering culinary delights like bistecca alla Fiorentina and ribollita. Along the Arno River, picturesque walks reveal stunning sunsets and a romantic ambiance. Florence is a city that captures hearts and minds, an invitation to explore and fall in love with Italy's essence.
If you're a first-time visitor to Florence, there are a few things you should know:
Florence is a city that effortlessly marries the old-world charm of the Renaissance with the vibrant pulse of modern Italian life
Florence is relatively small and compact, making it easy to explore on foot.
Florence is a popular tourist destination, so it's important to book your accommodation and tickets for popular attractions in advance.
Know Before You Go
Here are a few things to know before you visit Florence.
The currency used in Florence, as well as in the rest of Italy, is the Euro, abbreviated EUR.
The Euro comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euro bills, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins, and 1 and 2 euro coins.
The exchange rate, as of October 2023, for $1 USD is 0.95 EUR.
If you are exchanging money at an ATM, ensure you always use a debit card that offers fee free cash withdrawals and you never select the option for the ATM to the conversion for you. Always let your bank make that conversion as you will get a better exchange rate and won’t have to pay a huge markup.
In Florence, the electrical sockets used are Type F sockets, which are also used in many other European countries.
A standard universal travel adapter will allow you to plug a variety of plugs into a variety of sockets. It is also important to note that a travel adapter will not convert the voltage or frequency. If your device/appliance is not rated for 230 V, you will also need to bring a voltage converter.
The official language of Florence is Italian, but English was spoken widely as well during our time there.
Climate During the Year
Florence experiences a Mediterranean climate with distinct seasons characterized by warm Summers and mild but chilly Winters.
When we visited there earlier this year in April, it was colder at night, but not unbearable and warmed up quite nicely during the day, typical of a nice Spring day.
Transportation System in Florence
The historic center of Florence is relatively compact and many of the city's major attractions are within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to explore the charming streets and alleys of Florence.
During our visit, we only used a taxi/Uber when visiting Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers sweeping panoramic views of the city.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Florence largely depends on your preferences and what you plan on visiting during your stay, but I would say the best time to visit is during the spring (late March to May) and autumn (September-October) for mild weather and fewer crowds. Even when we were there in April, the main tourist areas of Florence seemed crazy crowded, likely from day visitors from cruise ships, and I can’t imagine how busy it gets during Summer peak travel.
How to Get There
There are several ways to get to Florence, with the easiest options by air or by train.
The main airport serving Florence and the Tuscany Region is Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR)
Florence is well-connected to the Italian rail network and is served by Florence Santa Maria Novella (SMN), which is located just outside the City Center. You can reach this station from various major cities in Italy and other European destinations.
Where to Stay
There are many great options to consider staying at when visiting Florence that depend on your particular preferences (travel style, hotel location, etc) and budget.
One of the things to consider when traveling to Florence (and Europe in general) with kids is being able to find hotels that accommodate up to 4 people in one room or suite. Most hotels have a maximum occupancy set at 2 or 3 people per room, even for larger suites sometimes, so it can become very challenging to find a hotel and room category that will work for you and not break the bank at the same time. If if you can't find a room for at least 4 people, then you may end up having to book two rooms (and not break the travel budget) and hope the hotel offers connecting rooms.
For our most recent trip to Florence, we stayed at the Sina Villa Medici, Autograph Collection, which is located in an early 19th-century historic palazzo in the heart of Florence. We selected this hotel due to the family rooms that it offered for a family of four and since we have hotel status (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium) that unlocks extra benefits/amenities like daily breakfast that easily saved us ~$80-$100 a day.
Other great hotel options I would recommend include:
Virtuoso Travel Hotels in Florence: Hotels where you can get extra value and benefits/amenities lie daily breakfast, hotel credits and more.
Other hotels I would recommend include the St. Regis Florence, the Westin Excelsior Florence, as well as other hotels that can offer value-added benefits from Marriott STARS/LUMINOUS, Hyatt Prive, Hilton Impresario and more.
Things To Do
There are many things to do and see while visiting Florence, as the city is full of iconic landmarks, historic palaces, and a vibrant cultural scene with a rich history.
Here are some of the top attractions and activities to consider during your visit to Florence:
Florence's Historic Center: Explore the heart of Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with charming streets, historic buildings, and vibrant piazzas like Piazza della Signoria.
Uffizi Gallery: This world-famous museum houses a vast collection of Renaissance art, including works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo.
Galleria dell'Accademia: This museum is home to Michelangelo's David, one of the most iconic sculptures in the world.
Ponte Vecchio: This medieval bridge is lined with jewelry shops and offers stunning views of the Arno River.
Duomo: This cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in Florence. Its massive dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and is considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of the Renaissance era.
Piazzale Michelangelo: This hilltop square offers panoramic views of Florence. It's the perfect place to enjoy a sunset or picnic.
Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce: This church is the final resting place of many famous Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.
Explore the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens: This former royal palace and its gardens are a beautiful oasis in the heart of Florence.
Explore the Tuscany Region and go Wine Tasting: We explored the flavors of the Chianti Region which included stops at small towns (Castello Di Gabbiano, Greve in Chianti and Montefioralle), olive oil / wine tasting at Fattoria Montecchio and a tour with lunch/wine tasting at Poggio Amorelli.
The Galileo Museum in Florence, Italy is one of the most important museums of science and technology in the world. It houses a vast collection of scientific instruments, including many of Galileo Galilei's own instruments.
Where to Eat
The city center of Florence is very walkable and no matter where you are in the city, it seems like there is a cafe or restaurant around every corner.
The places we ate at largely depended on which part of Florence we were in around lunch or dinner time and location mainly dictated the available restaurant options for us.
For example, I always like to plan ahead and research food options closest to where we would be in the city, so we don't have to hunt around too long to get a bite to eat. Knowing what options we have near us and where they are located comes in handy when traveling with younger children, but for this trip I didn't make a list of places to eat at and figured there would always be something close by where we were that would work for everyone.
For breakfast each morning, we ate at the hotel, using our Marriott Bonvoy Titanium breakfast benefit, which easily helped us save over $80-$100 a day on breakfast alone.
While exploring Florence, other sit-down restaurants we enjoyed on this trip included:
Harry’s Bar, The Garden
Caffe Concerto Paszkowski
Spice India Ristorante Indiano Firenze
Florence is a city with a rich culinary tradition, known for its fresh ingredients, simple dishes, and bold flavors. Here are some of the must-try foods in Florence:
Bistecca alla Fiorentina: This Florentine steak is a thick-cut T-bone steak that is grilled over wood or charcoal. It is served rare and seasoned only with salt and pepper.
Ribollita: This hearty soup is made with stale bread, beans, vegetables, and olive oil. It is often served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Pappardelle al cinghiale: This pasta dish is made with wide noodles and a wild boar ragù. The ragù is made with wild boar meat, tomatoes, wine, and herbs.
If you're considering a trip to Florence, I hope some of the information here can help you plan out your next trip. There is so much to see and do, so be sure to plan ahead and add some of the city's top attractions to your itinerary. Or better yet, consider a private or semi-private guided tour so you don’t miss out on anything and learn all about history along the way. I highly recommend Context Travel for this, as well as Family Twist.
I hope this destination spotlight guide helps you plan out your next trip to Florence and gives you a glimpse into highlights of the city, as well as a look the best places to stay and things to do and see in this unique destination.
The Family Travel Guy
I hope this email helped spark some travel inspiration!
Learn More Here: About Me | The Family Travel Guy
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