Surrounded by rolling Tuscan hills, the beautiful city of Florence is one of Europe’s most enchanting and historically influential cities. If anywhere in the world can claim to have shaped modern Western consciousness, it is Florence’s grand piazzas and palazzos.
Florentine art and architecture flourished throughout the Late Medieval period. One powerful banking family, the Medicis, rose out of this time to become de facto rulers of the city and were central to ushering in the Renaissance proper. Keen to display their wealth, they were patrons to scholars who scoured the libraries of Europe for Greek and Arabic works of natural science, philosophy and mathematics, and commissioned pieces by locals such as Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli.
Today, the marks of this great epoch cannot be missed in Florence. The world’s greatest Renaissance artworks and sculpture can be found at every turn in the historical centre, an area that can be traversed on foot in under an hour but would take infinitely longer to properly explore.
Centred around the Piazza della Signoria are the crenellated walls of the Palazzo Vecchio, the arches of Loggia dei Lanzi, under which one can find restored Roman sculptures and Cellini’s bronze Perseus, and the vast Palazzo degli Uffizi, home to the Medici’s collections.
Nearby is the Piazza del Duomo, flanked by the famous cathedral, Giotto’s towering Campanile, and the octagonal Florence Baptistery. The Bargello National Museum safeguards Italy‘s most comprehensive collection of Tuscan Renaissance sculpture, and to the north, the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze houses Michelangelo’s David. Cross the Ponte Vecchio to the quieter south bank of the Arno River to reach the Medici family palace and stroll through the sprawling Boboli Gardens. Pisa is also an easy day trip from the city, while the vineyards and villas surrounding are a destination in themselves.
Combined with a constant thrum of tourists, Florence can be overwhelming. Let our experts craft your time in this incredible city, with privately guided tours sculpted around your interests and passions, off the beaten track excursions and hand-picked hotels. We can also get you into our favourite restaurants, whether fine dining affairs with sweeping views or a hidden local gem tucked away from the crowds.
It’s one of the world’s most exciting cities for artistic and cultural richness and yet so unimposing. Florence is dotted with first-class restaurants, chilled out bars and a lot of fun for people of all ages. Make sure you head up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for the best view over the city!
What to do
- Explore the world's greatest collection of Renaissance artworks
- See Michelangelo's David
- Climb Giotto's Bell Tower
- Take a stroll through Boboli Gardens
- Sample Tuscan food and Chianti wines
When to go
With its wealth of museums and galleries, Florence can be visited any time of year. Crowds thin out after July and August and the temperature is more pleasant for wandering through the city during spring, early summer and early autumn.
Itineraries including Florence
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Accommodation in Florence
Here are some of our travel designers' favourite options
Villa CoraOverlooking the historic Boboli Gardens, near to Florence’s centre, Villa Cora is an exquisitely restored 19th century palace that offers a step back into the grandeur of neoclassical Florence, with eclectic and occasionally bizarre artistic styles of the period. Built at a time when Florence was the cosmopolitan capital of the newly created Kingdom of Italy, Villa Cora earned its reputation by hosting guests such as Princess Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and the Russian composer Tchaikovsky, being considered the most beautiful residence of the Tuscan capital. It became a grand hotel in 1960, during another of Florence’s most stylish periods. The hotel has 44 rooms and suites, divided into the main villa and in two adjacent buildings. The majority are in the main villa, split over four floors, each of which has been characterised around a theme, one with extravagant frescoes, another taking Moorish influence from the Orient. Villino Eugenia is a small guesthouse overlooking the Boboli Gardens, containing 13 accommodations, each decorated and furnished according to the bourgeois styles of the late 19th century. Lastly, La Follie, a small guesthouse located at the edge of the park that surrounds Villa Cora has a particular charm and discretion with only two rooms for complete privacy. Le Bistrot Restaurant offers seasonal produce, during the winter months in the splendid Moorish Room with its domed ceiling with original frescoes by Antonio Caremmi, and in the summer outdoors in the winter garden by the side of the swimming pool, where guests can relax in an elegant yet informal environment. The Benè spa is located on the lower floor of Villino Eugenia and is equipped with a small gym, tepidarium, sauna and Turkish hammam. The wellness centre offers Asian and European massages as well as beauty treatments. There is also a large heated outdoor pool shaded by vast oak trees.
Il Tornabuoni HotelSet within one of Florence‘s oldest and most prestigious palaces, the building of Il Tornabuoni Hotel dates back to the 13th century. Within the imposing, historical architecture the decor of the hotel echoes elements of the era; wide staircases, intricate ironworks, large picture windows, renaissance style murals on domed ceilings and flagstones floors. The hotel boasts 62 rooms and suites across 14 different categories, ensuring there’s a space for every type of traveller. All the rooms feature modern amenities and luxurious decor complete with rich soft furnishings with bold gem colours, tasteful decor, sumptuous beds and linens and of course beautiful ensuite bathrooms. Dining at the hotel is a wonderful affair with a choice of two gourmet restaurants, a charming relaxed cafe, rooftop ‘butterfly’ terrace and the atmospheric ‘La Cave’ an intimate space that presents a balance between history and innovation.