Florence Sights and Crafts
Florence , the capital of Tuscany, is a beautiful city, a centre of art, culture, rich in history and steeped in tradition. Filled with museums, beautiful churches, wonderful piazzas the city has much to offer its visitors. Rather than the usual city break, a great way to visit Florence and enjoy the rest of Tuscany at the same time is to rent a villa in the countryside and make day trips into the city. La Bella Toscana has a selection of apartments and villas with swimming pools close to Florence, ideal bases from which to explore this beautiful city. Weeks could be easily spent exploring Florence, so if you’re taking day trips into the city, it’s best to think ahead and decide what you wish to see in a day. Here are couple of tips to help with your planning. Getting into Florence, avoid traffic and use public transport. Drive from your villa to the nearest bus or train station and connect to Florence. Both the bus and train stations are In the centre of Florence so from there you can easily explore on foot. Taking the car is not as difficult as it seems, the only real advice is to park on the outskirts . Parking at Piazzale Michelangelo is a great option. This famous view point above the city is well worth seeing anyway, so park, enjoy the amazing panorama over the city and walk or take a local bus into the centre. You’re probably best to stick to visiting just one or two museums in one day, but remember that queues can be long so we recommend you pre book well in advance to avoid waiting. The two most visited museums are the Uffizi gallery famous for its Renaissance paintings, and the Academia which houses Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and many other exquisite sculptures. There are of course hundreds of other museums to choose from. The historic centre of Florence is quite compact so easily explored on foot, around every corner are wonderful churches and buildings, works of art in themselves. Not to be missed is the ‘Duomo’ Florence’s beautiful cathedral , where you can climb the bell tower for an amazing panorama over the whole city. Not for the fainthearted though, 463 narrow steps to negotiate but the view is worth every one. From there stroll along the main shopping street to ‘Piazza La Signoria’ one of the most beautiful squares in Florence, an open air museum with a copy of the statue of David, the Lanzi statue gallery under the loggia and exquisite Palazzo Vecchio town hall with it’s amazing frescoes. A few steps from there is the Pontevecchio the only remaining ancient bridge across the Arno river, lined with original shops featuring locally crafted gold and silver wares. Florence is renowned for its’ many artisans still making wares by traditional methods, Hand crafted products from leather to finely decorated paper to intricate wooden frames are all still made by local craftsmen, many of which have their workshops in the ‘Oltrarno’ area on the opposite side of the river bank. This is the lesser known part of the city but just as enchanting, as well as the craft workshops there are many more intimate restaurants and some pretty pavement cafes. Here you can also find the Palazzo Pitti, which is interesting to visit as it is home to many smaller exhibitions like the unusual costume gallery or silver museum. The Boboli gardens next door is a lovely location to enjoy a well earned rest as well as admiring the lovely plants and flowers. Other highlights are the two daily markets the smaller of which was the original ‘Straw market’ just off Piazza della Repubblica and the larger at San Lorenzo both featuring leather and other local products.