Florence – The Review

So this one is more of a destination review, more so than a specific recount of events although there will be a smattering of my personal highlights and a couple of anecdotes 🙂

I’ve been to Florence twice for two different types of holidays and since the trips I’ve done loads of reading on the city, it’s so interesting. I mentioned in my first post that I’m surprised we don’t learn more about the city in history classes considering how important it has been over the years especially in the Middle ages.

The question “what is your favourite holiday” is a really tough question so when I ask my self I break it down to multiple questions….favourite beach holiday, favourite activity holiday and stuff like that and Florence is my favourite city holiday.

Florence is a fairly big city in Tuscany, it neighbours Siena and Pisa, home to Fiorentina and the old part of the city is home to some of the most iconic buildings in Italy along with some iconic and stars he events….I think I’ll describe some of the buildings/Places and some of the events, things to do then let you know some of my personal experiences of the City.

Santa Maria Del Fiore cathedral

This building is arguably the most famous and most recognisable building in the medieval city of Florence. The Florence Catherdral nicknamed “Il Duomo” due its huge dome, is situated in the centre of the town with all the big roads seemingly leading to it. If you ignore the hundreds of tourists and gimmicky shops and just take in the building itself, it’s so impressive. This blog is supposed to be about fun trips and not about architecture plus I’ve linked the Wikipedia page if you want to know the rich history that goes on with this building. It is one of the reasons I love the city as I’ve. It been anywhere else where one building stands out so much in the city skyline, Florence has an abundance of mad buildings all entrenched in history but none quite so fun to look at as Santa Maria Del Fiore.

Here is a picture of The Florence Cathedral that I took on my most recent visit. The picture is taken from Piazzale Michelangelo which I’ll go on to below

Boboli Gardens

The Medici family are important to the history of Florence and these “gardens” were the residences of the Medici Family. On a nice afternoon there is so much interesting stuff to do here topped off by fantastic views of the city and surrounding country side. I think any trip to Florence needs to include an afternoon here. You can take a walk over the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge on your way too or from the gardens. It does tend to get a bit busy every now and again but it’s just volume of people and not really queues. Boboli Gardens is good for people seeking a bit of culture or history, someone who might be looking for some great photographs and there are also places you could just chill out and relax!

The Grounds of Boboli Gardens

Piazzale Michelangelo

I chose this location as it’s one of the best places you can watch the sun going down. When I went the second time we were keen to watch the sunset and we asked our Air BNB host for a location and she sent us here, strangely we couldn’t find any good places online seems bizarre as in preparation for this blog I done some research (yes, might not seem that way) and this location is everywhere so I’m sure it won’t be my blog that sends you there regardless well worth a recommendation you can head up there have a beer get some quality photos and watch the sun go down!

Basing yourself in Florence will allow you to take the train the Pisa or the bus to Siena or for a longer journey you could even get the train to Rome and I think that staying in Florence gives you so many benefits. Compared to Rome Florence is much cheaper both to fly to and to live, it is very similar to Siena in terms of architecture and history but it is much bigger and there is a lot more to do then in Pisa other than the obvious (below)there really isn’t much to do.

The obvious

Anytime of the year you could enjoy the Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo’s David, walk over the world famous Ponte Vecchio for less culture concerned travellers there is some great shopping to be done in some very exclusive shops. There are plenty of parks to walk around and its not very well known but Florence has a vibrant nightlife. So there really is plenty to do!

If you go at the right time of year you can watch Calcio Fiorentino, this happens on the third week in June every year and four teams compete across three matches of some kind of like football / rugby except much more violent, other than kicking people on the floor and sucker punches pretty much anything is allowed. It’s a big festival in the city and should be attended if you’re there at the right time.

There is another event that’s held in the neighbouring city of Siena this one is a horse race through the city streets the Palio di Siena its developed over many years 10 riders race through the city streets on horse it started originally on Bulls. It’s held twice a year, Early July and Mid August and so if you’re staying Florence you could get the bus to Siena and have watch this event

So for a night out a lot of people head down to Piazza Santa Spirito where there are loads of bars and restaurants but what a lot of people do is sit on the steps of the church and have a beer there kind of like bring your own bottle. Whilst being Drunk in public is a bit of an issue this place has a bit of a chilled vibe and there are a lot of younger people there. If you want to do some pre drinking there and then head out there are a bunch of night clubs dotted around the place and many members clubs that are open even later than the night clubs.

When we last went there we stayed in an Air BNB right next to the Ponte Vecchio, it was me and 4 friends. We spent a day walking round the city and seeing the sites, then a day in Rome and our final day we spent exploring Boboli Gardens. After a particular heavy night where we got in at 5am (yeah, I’m double hard I know) we woke the following morning and headed out to see Michelangelo’s David when we got there we found out the queue was going to be two hours and the queue was so big it was outside…….it was raining. I’d seen David before so really wasn’t keen to queue and see it again, I think it’s the closest my friends have ever come to falling out it was queuers vs non-queuers and it seems like non-queuers were the biggest babies because we ended up not queuing and going for Lunch instead. 4 of us ordered and David (not the statue) didn’t order food, after the waiter left our table David decided he was hungry for a starter and the conversation went like this – David “I’ll get *insert starter here*” Alex/Wolfy “oh that sounds nice can you get me some” David “sure thing man, leave it with me you can count on me not to fuck things up” ……. 15 minutes later when the food arrives Alex/Wolfy “excuse me garson, where is my dish that I ordered I seem to only have this small appetiser” Friendly Italian Waiter “your friend he come up and cancel yours mains and said you only want the starter mamma Mia” then theme tune music came on and we all said in unison “thattttttts David” and the credits rolled.

I realise that this story is not a “reason” to go to Florence but just a nice little anecdote that brings a smile to my face for when I read this back to get my page visits above 10. Seriously though it’s a great location and whilst I see a bunch of people visiting Italy I feel like Florence does get somewhat overlooked despite being a popular destination…..anyway so yeah get yourself there.

Anyway…..the next one will be fun anecdotes.