Whether or not you know their names, the members of the Medici family left their mark all over Florence. In some cases, it’s the palaces they built, that today house museums. In other cases, it’s the artists whose work they patronized – artists who have made a lasting impact on the art world.
Perhaps you remember the tidbit from art history class about how frescoes are painted on a wet surface, but it’s unlikely you can appreciate the unique challenges of creating a fresco unless you try it for yourself. There’s no Renaissance time machine necessary, either – you just need to take a fresco painting workshop in Florence.
The historic center of Florence is charming and picturesque no matter what time of day you see it, but there’s an added layer of mystery and romance to the old buildings and cobbled streets when the sun goes down. There’s a side of Florence you just won’t see unless you go on an evening tour.
In this guide, we’ve handpicked the very best of what makes Italy so special — both on and off the beaten path — so you can travel like an insider in Italy!
When you begin making your to-do list for Florence, your first concern is likely to be how you’ll fit everything in that you want to see. But you’re on vacation, so one thing you’re probably not thinking about is what day of the week it is – and whether that matters at all.
Florence is well-known as a place to buy beautifully-made leather goods. But you may not know that part of the city’s history with leather is tied to one of Florence’s most visited churches. No visit to Santa Croce is complete without a stop at the Scuola del Cuoio – the Leather School.
Walking tours in a city like Florence are great – the historic center is extremely pedestrian-friendly, and at a walking pace you’re sure not to miss anything. But if you’re craving something more active, or if you just want to work off additional calories in order to indulge in some of Italy’s best gelato later on, then consider a running tour in Florence.
One of the most famous historic festivals in Tuscany happens twice a year in Siena – the Palio horse race. Since Siena is so close to Florence, there’s really no reason to miss out on this truly spectacular event. Plan ahead and you can easily take a day trip from Florence to Siena to see the Palio.
The historic center of Florence is cut in two by the Arno River, so you might expect river cruises in Florence to be plentiful. Today, however, the Arno is relatively small where it runs through the city, and not deep enough to handle the sort of river cruise boats popular elsewhere in Europe. You can take a boat trip in Florence, though, on a traditional Florentine boat.
Michelangelo is inextricably linked to the city of Florence, having spent much of his early artistic career there under the patronage of the Medici family. He was able to purchase a house in Florence, which is today known as Casa Buonarroti, though he never actually lived there.