Rich in history, Firenze’s ancient skyline rises from the banks of the Arno in hazy harmony with the distant Apennine mountains. Lovers of art, architecture, music, and literature flock to the cradle of the Renaissance to worship the likes of Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, da Vinci, and Dante. They stay for the world-class museums, romantic narrow streets, and stunning sights around every corner. They return for the vibrant culinary, artistic, and musical scene that continues to flourish.
Before you jet off to Firenze, explore the “city of the lily” with our travel guide!
WHAT TO KNOW
Prized for its fertile grounds, Firenze was settled by the Romans circa 80 B.C.E. Rome fell, the Byzantines and Lombards came and went, and finally, Firenze began to prosper on its own. This independent growth was partly in thanks to medieval banking families, namely the House of Medici, an incredibly influential royal house that produced three Catholic popes, two French queens, and the original recipe for gelato (you decide which was the most important). Because of their patronage of many artists and scientists, including da Vinci, Donatello, Raphael, and many more, historians credit the Medici as the catalyst for the Renaissance in the early 14th century.
After the Black Death’s legendary devastation of the population in 1348, Florentines were primed for inspiration. The Renaissance bloomed through the 16th century, a period with major achievements across artistic and scientific fields; Firenze became one of the most important cities in the world politically, economically, and culturally. Today, it remains the capital of Toscana and welcomes millions of visitors from across the world.
WHERE TO GO
Like any of the world’s great cities, Firenze is almost impossible to completely know. Return time and again, and you still won’t see it all. With dozens of charming piazzas, thrilling thoroughfares, and museums for days, we do not know where to begin with our guide!
Here goes: don’t miss the Galleria degli Uffizi (see the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance works), Mercato Centrale (pick up your requisite leather jacket), and the Duomo (climb to the top of the marble bell tower for vertigo-inducing views). Swing past the Palazzo Pitti (explore the Medici’s own collection of art, curated Boboli gardens, and more), Basilica di Santa Croce (pay homage at the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo, then take in frescoes by Giotto), and Palazzo Vecchio (climb another tower from which you can actually see the Duomo). And yes, explore the historic center – and have a coffee in Piazza della Repubblica. Cross the Ponte Vecchio, an ancient bridge with a multitude of shops, and get a gelato.
And so on. There are hundreds more must-experience experiences (the David! Did we mention Michelangelo’s David?), so we recommend creating a schedule for your visit and more or less sticking to it. Except – pencil in a day to just be lost in the commotion. This is the romantic stuff that those Renaissance masters fell for.
WHAT TO TASTE
Firenze is surrounded by incredible farms, orchards, and wine-growing regions; over centuries, cooks perfected recipes to feature simple, quality ingredients. Today, Florentine cuisine is renowned across the world. At a restaurant, anything “alla fiorentina” – cooked Firenze-style, like the famous bistecca – is a safe bet for a delicious, local dish.
At Eataly Magazine, we feel especially connected to the local food scene, thanks to Eataly Firenze, our store that opened in the historic Via Martelli in December 2013. From cheese to wine, our Tuscan colleagues highlight the best local specialties, offering a true taste of Firenze.
Buon viaggio a Firenze!
Discover more flavors of Toscana at Eataly! For the next month, we are celebrating Tuscan artists and artisans across our stores and online. Get the details!