To be in Florence is to walk in the footsteps of the greatest names in Renaissance culture; Dante, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Petrach, Machiavelli. Pause and you can almost hear the cobbled alleyways whispering their intriguing stories of inspiration, cunning, artistic and literary brilliance, wealth and financial dealings. From 59 BC Roman origins, through 15th century Renaissance prominence and three centuries of aristocratic Medici reign and artistic patronage, to the city's brief 19th century role as capital of the newly united Italy, Florence is a city which shimmers and resonates with history.
It's a city which boasts some of Europe's most magnificent and inspirational architecture. Most famous is Brunelleschi's iconic Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore with its Baptistry and Giotto's Campinale. Spanning the river Arno is the 14th century Ponte Vecchio, leading to the Medici's Pitti Palace residence and its romantically tranquil Boboli Gardens. It's a city of noble churches, with Gothic Santa Croce nursing tombs of famous city residents - Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli are all buried here. The Medici family parish church of San Lorenzo lists Brunelleschi and Michelangelo amongst its architects, and Santa Maria Novella boasts magnificent frescoes.
Add to this the artistic glories found in the city's museums and galleries, and you will feel stunned at the riches which lie around you. The Uffizi gallery holds the world's largest collection of Renaissance art. Galleria dell'Accademia is home to Michelangelo's David; the Bargello groans with Renaissance sculptures and Donatello's famous bronze of David. Visit the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo which houses many of the original Cathedral carvings and the Gates of Paradise, and the Palazzo Davanzati for its 14th century Florentine interiors.
But Florence is also a city for people watching, for sipping coffee and a glass of wine in one of the city's majestic squares. Savour the Piazza dell Signoria, the centuries old heart of Florentine political and social life, and admire the 14th century Palazzo Vecchio or town hall. The more modern 19th century Piazza dell Republica is fringed by some of the best known Florentine cafes.
It's also a city for shopping, for browsing the cobbled back street market stalls of San Lorenzo or the Santa Croce cloisters for leather items and silk scarves. The Ponte Vecchio is lined with gold sellers. Typical Florentine marbled papers and stationery items can be found in the San Giovani neighbourhood. The street market's heart is the Mercato Centrale, the bustling food market with colourful displays of fish, vegetables, Tuscan take-aways, cheese, meats and olive oils.
But finally don't forget to visit the Fontana del Porcellino, the bronze boar fountain where tradition has it that that you must rub the old boar to ensure your return to the city.
When to visit Florence
The best time to visit Florence is either Spring, April to June, or Autumn, mid September to November. The summer months are very hot, with temperatures soaring in July and August to around 38 degrees. Winter months can be cool and rainy but the welcoming city cafés are perfect for a warming snack or coffee. Florence is always 'en fête'. From February's Carnivale to Easter's Scoppio del Carro; June offers the Calcio Storico fireworks; July and August hosts the famous summer opera festival; Autumn, an International Cinema event; and December, the quirky Ponte Vecchio International Approach golf championship, under the archways of the famous bridge.
Getting to and Around Florence
The city is served by three airports. Most airlines fly into Pisa's Galileo Galilei airport, 80 minutes by train or Bologna, an hour's train journey. The smaller Florence Airport, Amerigo Vespucci, is 4 km (2.5 miles) north-west of Florence, and a 15 minute taxi or a 20 minute shuttle bus to the main railway station. Florence's mediaeval historic area is perfect for walking. Inexpensive bike hire is available but beware the narrow cobbled streets which don't offer dedicated cycle paths.
Where to stay in Florence
Apartment rentals provide a flexible and cost effective alternative to hotels. Add to this the luxury of your own private space, the freedom of a city centre 'home', and the ease of group bookings, makes a rental apartment ideal.
If you want to be within easy walking distance of the main city sights, consider the area of San Marco, a bustling student quarter offering plentiful restaurants and cafés and home to the world's oldest art school, the Accademia di Belle Arti. Duomo, the location of Florence's famed cathedral and Dante's birthplace, is a maze of tiny alleys reflecting the city's mediaeval origins. Santa Croce is another ancient quarter redolent of Florence's Roman history with its grid of narrow streets. South of the Arno lies Oltrarno, a homely residential quarter famous for the Pitti Palace and Santa Spirito. Wander off the Via Maggio into gentle side streets and squares to find the 'old' Florence with authentic restaurants, shops, studios and workshops.
Loving Apartments are a fantastic accommodation choice for your weekend city break or long holiday. Perfect for all types of travellers, our apartments are located in the city's heart, enabling you to immerse yourself in the city's culture while being close to its attractions.
Budget Friendly Apartments
Browse our budget collection, offering great value accommodation in vibrant centrally located areas. These apartments are fully equipped with modern conveniences to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
Luxury Florence Apartments
Our luxury collection offers superior apartments, beautifully furnished and with high quality facilities for that extra special treat. Many apartment buildings provide additional services to purchase, such as spa treatments, and the use of fitness centres and swimming pools, to unwind in after a day exploring Florence.
Florence Apartments for groups
Many visitors travel to Florence for a group city break, and finding suitable accommodation can be difficult. Florence Apartments are ideal, with many properties sleeping a large number of guests. With our Florence big group booking tool, it's never been quicker or easier to find accommodation for large groups, with instant pricing and availability.