A weekend in Florence? Sounds amazing. But I debated whether to write this post – everyone’s already written about Florence! But then, I felt very unprepared in Florence even after reading everything.
Florence is….busy. Florence is home to just 300,000 people and yet the city seems to swell to the millions thanks to all the tourists. But, if you can accept this, Florence is the heart of Italy’s craftsmanship.
Seemingly around every corner someone is doing something amazing. Leatherwork, jewelry, clothing, the level of artisanship is off the charts. Unlike there famous cities the prices aren’t even ridiculous for the level of work involved. But that’s enough about that – let’s get into where to go, eat, and sleep on your weekend in Florence!
Where to Go on a Weekend in Florence
To be honest, the best thing about Florence is walking around. Sure, you can make a list – and you should prioritize one or two things, but the real experience comes from being there. Seeing the architecture, the shops, the art, that’s what you come to Florence for and it’s almost impossible to plan everything ahead.
But if you have a weekend in Florence, these are some of the best things to keep in mind:
This is one of the coolest bits of architecture I’ve ever seen in person. For those of you who played the Assassin’s Creed games, it’s like a weird dream coming true? Look up at the bell tower and think about how you climbed that (and then fell…and then climbed it again…and fell – but eventually!).
Going inside the Cathedral depends how long you’re willing to wait. For some reason, it opens quite late at 10:15 which gives even the late risers time to stumble on down and join the line for a half hour before it opens. To be honest, while the pictures of the inside are gorgeous, there are thousands of gorgeous churches in Italy that you don’t have to wait for.
For most, I think the real delight lies in the outside, where incredible bronze doors are visible with no line, mixed with the aforementioned incredible architecture.
Shopping on the Ponte Vecchio
For those of you who have seen a Room with a View, or any other of the many stunning movies made in Italy, it’s a must to cross the River Arno. And Ponte Vecchio has some of the best views of the classic bridges and beautiful buildings that make up the city.
Additionally, this is where most of the jewelry shopping is to be had. There are some absolutely stunning shops here, and if I ever get engaged I’d be tempted to come here for the ring. Some of the prices are outrageous but most were surprisingly…accurate, if not cheap, for the artistry involved.
As I mentioned, most of a weekend in Florence is in the experiences. As you walk around the city, you will encounter the most beautiful pieces of jewelry, art, clothing and more. Ricami Veronica is so much fun – buy an apron or chef’s hat and they’d hand embroider it for you right there!
It’s the coolest thing ever.
I went to probably 10 different glove shops to find the perfect leather gloves with a cashmere lining and fur. I stalked a jewelry website from a company I found, hoping to find the loveliest amber jewelry on sale (it sold out and I’m still bitter about it). Print shops, book shops, trying on amazing jackets in leather works shops – all made by the artisans who call Florence home. Save your spending money for here!
Ever wondered where all the most famous Italian works of art are? Like that painting of Aphrodite with the seashell? It’s all here (except the Statue of David is in the Academia Gallery and you’ll want timed tickets if that interests you).
But if you aren’t terribly interested in spending your few short hours on your weekend in Florence in a museum, don’t worry. The absolutely gorgeous arcades, arches, and hidden courtyards are absolutely chock full of both beautiful art and architecture.
Just being outside the Uffizi was an absolutely highlight.
If you only have a weekend in Florence, this is the place to bookmark. No matter the time of year, these gardens are huge, beautiful, and impressive. Much like Versailles creates an aura that brings you back to the past, these gardens feel real. Especially the cool little mazes, which make it easy to lose crowds and find yourself wandering alone.
The porcelain museum is a fun, quick touch to give you some insight – and the views from outside this area are quintessentially Tuscan.
If you’re planning to do both the Uffizi, Bobble, and some of the other paid attractions such as the Pitti Palace, you should buy a combo ticket for 38euros. It also comes with priority admissions. The Boboli Gardens are 12euros by themselves.
Ice Skating on a Weekend in Florence
Did you know you can go ice skating, outdoors, in Florence? I certainly didn’t! And what a wonderful, random memory it is. In the Florence ice village in the winter months you can rent skates to race around a loopy path around a pond.
I enjoy things like this that keep the different places from running together in my head. I’ll never forget skating (annnnd probably breaking something in my foot) in Florence.
Daytrip to Bologna
If you have more than just a weekend in Florence, I highly recommend tacking on Bologna. It’s not too far away and it’s easy to see most everything in a day.
UNESCO World Heritage porticoes which seem to go on forever, churches within churches, live music around every corner, and a more relaxed college-town feel. Great pastry shops and delicious food are available on every street.
Beware the popular boards of meat and cheese unless you’re used to eating a lot – I’ll never forget my bucket of meat I took as take away! Don’t upgrade the board to have more, at the very least 😛
And that’s all of the things you should do on a weekend in Florence!