There are few places in the world that conjure up romantic images like the region of Tuscany. Sun-soaked vineyards, rolling hills topped with charming castles, quaint cobblestone streets and wine. Lots of wine. It was with these notions in my head that I jumped on a train from Venice, bound for Florence.
Less than three hours by rail with prices starting at €34 (1 hour 40 minutes from Rome for €40 or 3 hours from Naples for €58), Firenze is easy to get to from anywhere in Italy. You’ll arrive at the main station called Firenze Santa Maria Novella. It’s smack dab in the city’s historical centre, which means you are easy distance to all the main attractions. Try to book a room nearby, and you’ll be able to walk everywhere.
The first stop on most itineraries is the grand Duomo. A historic church topped with a jawdropping dome that’s nearly 50 metres in diameter, it is not only the main landmark but also provides a postcard-worthy backdrop.
If you’re up to braving the long line, head inside and take in the sculptures, marble floors and paintings. Entry is free, but if you want to visit the dome it will set you back €8. Guided tours are also available, and the cathedral is open daily except for select holidays.
Many tourists then head to the home of what is arguably the world’s most iconic sculpture: Michelangelo’s David. Located in the Galleria dell’Accademia, admission costs €6.50 and the gallery is open from 8:15am-6:50pm, Tuesday through Sunday. The first time you see David in real life, it’s one of those memorable moments like the first time you set eyes on the Eiffel Tower. And at 16 feet high, it won’t disappoint like the Mona Lisa tends to do.
Once you’ve taken in the manhood, you can browse more of Michelangelo’s works before making your way through the gothic and Renaissance paintings on display. The great thing about the Galleria dell’Accademia is that they only let in small groups at a time, which means you won’t be pushing others out of the way to try and get a good look. The Uffizi is another can’t-miss for art lovers, housing pieces from Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael among others. But again, brace for long, long lineups.
Once you’ve got your fill of art history, grab an espresso back in the Piazza del Duomo. You’ll pay a premium for your java here, but it’s worth it for the view. You’ll need to get re-energized for shopping, which you can do in the San Lorenzo Market. Florence is famous for its leather, and this is where you’ll want to pick up a new purse or jacket.
Finish off your day with a cooking class, then cross the bridge and take in a view of the city from the other side of the Arno River. Watching the sun set over the city’s orange roofs is one of the most romantic things to do in Tuscany, and the perfect way to cap off a visit to Florence.
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