Florence is an open-air museum, and this itinerary takes you from breakfast in Sant’ Ambrogio, through cultural landmarks in the historic centre, to discover the other side of the river Arno.
Breakfast like a local at Cibréo Caffé in the residential neighbourhood of Sant’Ambrogio. Its outside terrace is ideal to sip a cappuccino and watch the locals going about their morning routine. For early risers, peruse the food, flowers and homewares in the neighbouring market. Allow yourself time to stroll through the streets of Santa Croce and admire its leather stores and 700 year-old church. On Via San Giuseppe, pop into Scuola Del Cuoio at number 5r in search of leather trinkets.
Meander the laneways until you reach Piazza della Signoria. Admire the David statue, a copy dating from 1910 that overlooks the piazza then go inside Palazzo Vecchio to see its stunning courtyard. Begun in 1299, this medieval palace with its 94-meter high tower remains the political seat of Florence even today. Explore the stately room, Salone dei Cinquecento, created for the grand council of 500 members, and the old Medici apartments where the famed Florentine family lived until the mid- 1500s. For the adventurous, climb Arnolfo Tower for stunning views over Florence.
Cross Piazza della Signoria, past the statue of Neptune for lunch at hole-in-the-wall diner, Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori (Via dei Magazzini 3r). Choose from a list of traditional Tuscan dishes such as meaty ragu tossed with thick pappardelle, or try summer favourite bread soup, pappa al pomodoro.
Post-lunch, stroll to Via del Proconsolo to explore the oldest public building in Florence. Bargello (at number 4) was home to the city council in the Middle Ages and later acted as a prison – up until 1786 executions still took place in the inner courtyard. Today it is a public gallery housing works by Michelangelo, Cellini and Donatello’s David, a bronze cast commissioned by the Medici family.
Head down Via del Proconsolo towards the city’s imposing Duomo. Stroll across the street past the Duomo’s imposing bell tower designed by Giotto and completed in 1359. Next head south on via Roma until you reach the river Arno. Cross the Ponte Vecchio with its glittering jewellery stores. Dating back to the 14th century, it’s the oldest existing bridge in the city.
Dine al fresco in Piazza Santo Spirito with a number of eateries spilling into the leafy square. Tamerò was once a mechanic’s workshop and its interior retains much of the gritty feel of its previous guise. However, its outside seats gracing the quaint piazza hold the most charm. Enjoy an aperitivo buffet from 6.30pm or order off a full menu specializing in fresh pasta and enjoy watching the sunset colours change on the facade of the square’s 15th-century church.
To rent a luxury holiday villa in Florence click here.