The Duomo (cathedral) Baptistry ceiling in the centre of Florence.
A Florence tourist route suggestion (1-3 days)
The best overview of Florence is from the hilltop Piazzale Michelangelo, and the best time to be there is in the morning with the sun behind you. This is an excellent starting point for a day’s trot around the city’s main attractions, and especially brilliant if you are driving as the car park there is big but more importantly free (but no camping cars)!
Then it’s an easy walk along the river to incredible Ponte Vecchio (with a short zag left if you want to see the Palazzo Pitti). Cross the bridge and almost immediately you’ll be in Florence’s best square, loaded with bizarre statuary, della Signoria, with Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio museums right there.
Next it’s either a zig right to visit Santa Croce church and its tombs of medieval celebrities or a 5 minute stagger up Via de Calzaiuoli to the Duomo (cathedral) area – Piazza di San Giovanni, to admire the awesomely elaborate exterior, and the interiors of both the Duomo (free) and the Baptistry (pay, though the doors are free!)
If you have the time, inclination or get too hot to trot then dive into a museum or gallery.
Buses 12/13 are supposed to run regularly to Piazzale Michelangelo for an evening return to watch the sunset and/or pick up your wheels.
Short Trips Out
There are many beautiful views and villages out in the Tuscan countryside, exemplified by the Mugello region northeast of the city – popular with hikers, climbers, canoeists and horsefolk.
If, unbelievably, you need to see more baroque buildings, head out to the Medici’s Villa della Petraia or Lorenzo’s Villa di Castello, both just to the north.
Alternatively, 8km south is the tranquil city of Fiesole, with great sights and cultural relics but without the teeming hordes of Florence. The Estate Fiesolana performing arts festival takes place July, August.
Pisa, Lucca and Siena are around an hour away by train or car.
Easter Sunday, Scoppio del Carro, festively exploding a cart in Piazza del Duomo. What madness is this?
March, Cricket Festival (insects, not bats)
June, Festival of Saint John, parades, dances and more.
June, Calcio Storico, a violent 15thC costumed football match in Piazza Santa Croce.
June, Dance Festival.
Sept, Rificolona Festival, kids & lanterns.