Exploring Florence

The first time I visited Florence, I didn’t exactly fall in love. I spent over an hour in traffic trying to get into the city centre, then another 45 minutes trying to find somewhere to park. I shuffled along to the Duomo with the masses, was served up a microwaved lasagne for lunch (it was still in the plastic container when it was brought out), and climbed up to Piazzale Michelangelo for the famous view, only to find the city suddenly shrouded in grey rainclouds.

A few years passed, and I was determined to give it another go. And this time – despite sweltering 38 degree temperatures – Florence well and truly won me over.

Cathedral, Florence
Cathedral, Florence
Cathedral, Florence
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Piazza della Signoria, Florence
River Arno, Florence
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
The Bardini Gardens are a lovely little haven, and a great place to escape the crowded streets for an hour or two. There’s an English garden with shady woodland, a little stream, rose gardens, grottoes, and a terraced garden with a Baroque stone staircase leading down the centre.
Bardini Gardens, Florence
Bardini Gardens, Florence
Bardini Gardens, Florence

How gorgeous is this tunnel of wisteria? I’d love to come here in spring when the flowers are in bloom.

Bardini Gardens, Florence
Bardini Gardens, Florence
The ticket gets you access to the gardens, the Villa Bardini, and the Boboli Gardens just down the road. We were given a discount as the Villa Bardini was closed – they’d had a wedding there the night before, so I guess they were still cleaning up. If you’re set on seeing the villa, it might be worth calling ahead just to check it’s open.
Tickets to climb the Duomo (10 euros) also cover entrance to the bell tower. Unless you can arrive at the dome before opening time (8.30am), I’d suggest climbing the bell tower instead – there’s never usually a queue, there are several rest platforms on the way up, and you get a fab view of the dome.
Cathedral, Florence
View from the Bell Tower, Florence
View from the Bell Tower, Florence
View from the Bell Tower, Florence
View from the Bell Tower, Florence

If you do opt for the dome, prepare yourself for a lot of queuing – both outside and in claustrophobic passageways on the way up. You do get an amazing close-up of the frescoes, though…

Duomo frescoes, Florence
And as for Piazzale Michelangelo – the view was a tad better this time.
View from Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
View from Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
Florence
View from Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
It does get pretty busy, though – if you want a quieter spot to enjoy the sunset, walk a few minutes up the road to San Miniato al Monte. If the church itself is open (it tends to close around sunset in summer), pop inside – there are some lovely frescoes and mosaics.
 For more advice and recommendations, take a look at my Florence Trip Tips page.

3 Comments

  • Reply Catherine August 23, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Glad you enjoyed Florence more second time round 🙂 It sure does look like a beautiful place – I love all your photos!

  • Reply Laura August 24, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Thanks, Catherine! It's one of the prettiest cities I've ever been to – I'm so glad I had the chance to go back and give it a second chance.

  • Reply car Seth May 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Wow.. Thanks for sharing.

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