The impressive Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Ponte Vecchio as the oldest bridge in the city or the extensive Renaissance art collection in the Uffizi Gallery - these are just a few Florence sights that you should see with your own eyes at least once in your life. However, the capital of Tuscany fascinates with much more: picturesque alleys, fantastic rooftop terraces, cool street art and delicious Italian culinary delights add up to the perfect mix for your city break.
This city is a true magnet, romantic, unique and full of life. The cityscape has hardly changed since the Renaissance, the narrow streets know a thousand stories. Fashion designers show their skills on the Via de' Tornabuoni. Gucci was born in Florence, as was Roberto Cavalli, who incidentally, like many Florentines, likes to relax in the vineyards outside the city. The wealth of museums and galleries is overwhelming. Florence is home to the world's best and most spectacular examples of Renaissance art. For the architecture, too, there is only one predicate: unique!
The start of a long weekend in Florence belongs to the sensational art and architecture in the Piazza del Duomo. It is the main sight of Florence and a truly magnificent sight: the Duomo. Built in Gothic style, it is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore. I, too, was amazed more than once. Its dimensions are gigantic and the marble façade is also highly impressive. Its 107-metre-high dome can be seen from almost everywhere and is a good orientation point if you ever get lost in the streets of Florence. If you have bought a ticket in time, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city's rooftops from the top. You can also do this from the slender Campanile, Giotto's bell tower, which stands right next to the cathedral. After a tour of the nave, it is also worth visiting the Grande Museo, where the history of the cathedral's construction is told through art objects and short films.
Now Via Tornabuoni beckons for window shopping with a stop at Procacci. The tiny café opened in 1885 as a delicatessen selling truffles and other delicacies. To this day, the rolls with truffle paste are a big hit and taste especially good with a glass of Prosecco.
From here, it's not far to Palazzo Vecchio, whose striking tower is also visible from afar and in front of whose entrance is enthroned Michelangelo's famous statue of David. To the right, my gaze wanders to the Hall of Generals with its impressive collection of antique statues.
Just a stone's throw away, the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous museums in the world and, of course, one of Florence's main sights, invites visitors to take a journey into the Renaissance with stunning art from the 15th and 16th centuries. Every day, 20,000 art lovers are captivated by the extensive collection of 3,000 paintings and sculptures. The majority comes from the private estate of the Medici family, including works by the great Italian masters such as Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. In addition to these art treasures, however, the Uffizi have two other highlights to offer: a fantastic, unique view of the Ponte Vecchio and a small ice cream parlour with homemade ice cream on the roof terrace with a view over the old town.
What the Uffizi is to paintings in the visual arts, the Bargello Museum is to sculpture. The famous bronze statue of David by Donatello or Michelangelo's Bacchus make the hearts of Renaissance fans beat faster. But the architecture of arches, columns and staircases that meet in the 13th century city palace is also impressive. In the same way, the Medici medal collection or the enamel art from the Middle Ages.
After so much culture, it's high time for something sweet. A day without ice cream - actually impossible in Italy, isn't it? Because where else does sweet refreshment taste as delicious as it does here! On every corner, the gelaterias are lavishly filled with colourful, diverse varieties. There is guaranteed to be something for every taste here! The location of Gelateria Santa Trinita is perfect for enjoying the view of the Ponte Vecchio with an ice cream in your hand. The famous Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345, was the only Florentine bridge that was not bombed during the Second World War. Even floods could not harm the bridge. Fortunately - also for the local jewellery shops. The bridge has been sparkling and glittering since the 16th century. To this day, jewellers determine what happens on the bridge - the craft is often passed down from generation to generation.
The crowds that throng through the city's alleys during the day can become quite exhausting at some point. But there is a remedy in the form of one of the most beautiful Florence sights: the Boboli Gardens on the other side of the Arno River. Of course, you're not alone here either, but the visitors are well spread out over the extensive area of the park, which was originally designed for the Medici family.
The entrance fee of 10 euros gives you access to both the Boboli Garden and the Giardino Bardini. Up many steps and through fairytale trellis arches you reach the first vantage point in front of the park's café: the birds are chirping, there is a scent of roses, summer can be felt everywhere and Florence is at your feet: the imposing dome of the cathedral and the many red roofs of the city, framed by cypresses, look like a painting. Piazzale Michelangelo also offers an unobstructed view of the old town, and it's free. Just before sunset, tourists are drawn to this magical place with a breathtaking view of the city. Treat yourself to an aperitivo at Le Volpi e l'Uva or return to the old town and enjoy a Prosecco or an Italian beer on one of the countless roof terraces. For example, the seats on the terrace of the Rinascente department stores' are hotly sought after. When the sun slowly disappears behind the houses and the city lights begin to twinkle, there is probably no more beautiful place to be in Florence. Of course, the magnificent view of the cathedral and the old town comes at a price. For an Aperol Spritz, you quickly pay around 15 euros. Not far from this roof terrace, the view from the View on Art offers a new perspective on the city.
It is also cheaper to stay on your "own terrace". There are many different hotels to choose from in the centre of Florence. In the Hotel Bellavista, just a stone's throw from the main railway station, there are comfortably furnished rooms on the top floor, two even with a small balcony, an unobstructed view of the old town and a sauna! Where else can you find that in Florence! Whether for breakfast or an undisturbed aperitif in the evening, this place is sure to quickly become your favourite.
What would Italy be without its world-famous culinary delights such as pizza, pasta or espresso? The Bottega Conviviale has some of the best pizzas in Florence. The dough is wonderfully crispy on the outside and wonderfully airy on the inside; it is made of flour, rice and soy. At Trattoria La Casalinga, a reservation is absolutely necessary, because the simple, typical Italian trattoria is extremely popular. No wonder, since grandma's recipes have been cooked here since 1963. Another place where locals and tourists with all kinds of cravings gather is the Mercato Centrale. For a glass of wine, a varied antipasti platter or authentic pasta, the market hall is the right address. And finally, a little insider tip: the Santarosa Bistrot. In a cool shabby-chic ambience, Florentines can end the evening here with a glass of wine and small snacks.
How to get there:
by train in 5½ hours www.sbb.ch
How long to get there:
Best time to travel:
All year round
Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo
Gelati and pizza course: