26 Things You Must Do Before Leaving Florence by Joseph Sutton (Syracuse University)

By Joseph Sutton (Syracuse University)

Beautiful sunset and view of the Ponte Vecchio and Arno river shot from the windows of the Uffizi gallery. Photo: Joseph Sutton.

Florence is a small city, but there’s so much to explore. If you haven’t seen any of these attractions, I highly recommend checking them out before you leave.

#26 Climb to Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy the views on the steps. This is the most romantic place in Florence, perfect for couples, and you’re bound to capture breathtaking photos.

#25 Cross the Ponte Vecchio in the Vasari Corridor. Architect Giorgio Vasari built the elevated enclosed passageway for Cosimo and his wife, Eleonora, to travel from one side of Florence to the other. Be aware that the guided tour can only be done in groups.

#24 Climb to the top of the Duomo. You must do this before leaving Florence! No questions asked, it is an iconic experience and is also a great workout.

#23 Do some shopping! You’ll be so happy when you get home and you can say to your friends, “Oh, I got this sweater in Florence!”

#22 Sit on a bench by Piazza Duomo and just watch the flocks of tourists and locals fly by.

#21 Get lost in the Santo Spirito area. There you will find boutique artisan shops nestled in the side streets.

#20 Slip on those running shoes of yours and jog through Parco delle Cascine. The weather in Florence is starting to heat up and it’s a beautiful run parallel to the Arno river.

#19 Walk through the first floor of Mercato Centrale. After exploring the fresh meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, oils, cheese, and other classic Italian food products, make your way upstairs to the busy food court that includes an array of different authentic Italian cuisines.

#18 Go on a leather tour. Florence is known for its quality craftsmanship and leather goods. I recommend visiting the Scuola del Cuoio. You will learn so much about the leather making process!

#17 Explore the Uffizi Gallery because it’s beautiful and huge.

#16 Stroll through the Boboli Gardens and wander in the Pitti Palace. The garden is massive and the palace is a piece of art in itself. There are many events hosted at Pitti throughout the year so be sure to check up on that.

#15 Check out The David at Gallery dell’Accademia. Be sure to walk around the entire statue from different angles. It’s a shame so many tourists come in here to see The David and then just leave, so explore the entire museum as well!

#14 Eat a panini at All’Antico Vinaio (worth the wait) or i Due Fratellini (say “ciao” to Armando for me!)

#13 Stuff yourself with a hot, brick-oven cooked pizza pie at Gusta Pizza. Be sure to check out their specials menu. They’re open late too!

#12 Watch the sunset on a rooftop bar and grab aperitivo. The Hotel Continentale and Caffe’ La Terrazza are my two favorite spots.

#11 Eat gelato. If you haven’t done this already, I recommend trying Eduardo’s first, which is beside the Duomo. Don’t forget to grab a ticket before you wait in line.

#10 Find the best iced coffee because iced coffee is hard to find in Florence. My favorite is from The Oil Shoppe.

#9 Taste five different pastas for one price at Acqua Al 2. The restaurant walls are decorated in plates signed by famous people that ate at the restaurant. They also have a delicious house wine. Make a reservation!

#8 Rent a Vespa scooter and tour the Tuscan countryside because you can! I recommend doing this with a tour guide.

#7 Take a cooking class because you’re in Italy! There’s no better way to learn how to cook than to take advantage of the culinary schools here in Florence. And plus, you’ll go home with new recipes!

#6 Trek out to the Saturnia Thermal Springs with friends. The thermal pools can be done in a full day or weekend. Bring a towel!

#5 Go on a Chianti wine tour. You’re surrounded by vineyards so the scenery is beautiful and you get to taste classic wines.

#4 Tour the Palazzo Vecchio museum. This cultural and historical gem was the home of the Medici family. Climb all the way up the tower and you can see the Duomo in full view!

#3 Visit Monastero delle Murate. From 1883 to 1985, it was a men’s prison. Today, it is no longer a prison and serves as a meeting place with restaurants, cafes, poetry readings and other events.

#2 See the Forte di Belvedere o di San Giorgio. This ancient fort offers a fantastic panorama overlooking Florence. You can also see the art installation with brass sculptures by Jan Fabre.

#1 Go to an exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi. It is one of the finest examples of Renaissance domestic architecture. Be sure to check the upcoming exhibitions.

Note: All photos used are for illustrative purposes only.

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