Florence is a city that is close to my heart as we enjoyed our first wedding anniversary there. It’s a beautiful place rich in architecture and culture, so it can be hard deciding which of its many attractions you wish to visit. I’m sharing my tips for what to see and do with 48 hours in Florence to help you to choose.
No trip to Florence would be complete without seeing the Cathedral or Duomo. It looks almost surreal, such is its photogenic appeal by day…
and by night. Construction on The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, to give its full name, started in 1296 and it was completed in 1436. The exterior is covered in exquisite marble panels. It’s a good place to get your bearings of the city, being located right in the centre.
Close by on Piazza della Signoria, there’s an impressive replica of the statue of David by Michelangelo. The original is inside the Ufizzi and breathtaking in its detail.
Also on Piazza della Signoria, you’ll find The Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati. It was commissioned in 1559 and completed in 1574. The statue is being restored thanks to Salvatore Ferragmo, and soon water will be running through the fountain again.
Did you know that Florence had its very own version of the Last Supper? It’s by the Italian Renaissance artist Domenico Ghirlandaio rather than Leonardo da Vinci and dates from 1480. Located inside the Convent of the Ognissanti on Borgo Ognissanti, it’s well worth a look. Ghirlandaio later helped to complete the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Of course, you’ll want to try some gelato whilst you are here. Two of our favourites are Grom on Via del Campanile and Vivoli on Via dell’Isola delle Stinche. If you like to mix a bit of shopping with your art, then you’ll love Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella – wow, that was a bit of a mouthful!
It’s one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, founded by Dominican friars in 1221 and opened to the general public in 1612. They have some lovely bath products that make great gifts.
Head back to your hotel to relax before dinner. We stayed close by at the Grand Hotel Minerva, conveniently located in the town centre. It has a charming rooftop pool, a great place to enjoy a swim or a refreshing Aperol Spritz.
Take a walk along the Arno river, near the Santa Rosa Weir for a relaxing start to the day.
Cross over world-famous Ponte Vecchio. This medieval bridge houses a number of art dealers and jewelry shops.
For a panoramic view over the whole of Florence and the surrounding area, head up to Piazzale Michaelangelo. Before the climb, there’s an excellent family-run restaurant, Zeb Gastronomia. We loved their fresh pasta in particular. On the way, you’ll pass through a charming rose garden with several artworks by Jean-Michel Folon, a talented Belgian sculptor.
This suitcase sculpture, Partir, is my favourite.
Once at the top, admire another copy of the statue of David, as well as the far-reaching views.
Nearby, the Basilica San Miniato al Monte on via delle Porte Sante is a beautiful Romanesque building built between the 11th and 13th century.
Make your way back down the hill, to Piazza del Mercato Nuovo. There are quite a few stalls selling leather and silk goods and plenty of places to eat nearby. The main attraction, however, is the Fontana del Porcellino. Don’t leave Florence without giving the little bronze pig a rub on his snout and to place a coin in his mouth – it’s good luck! Legend has it that if the coin then falls into the grate below, you’ll definitely return to Florence.
Have you ever visited Florence? What were your favourite sights and places to eat?