Enjoy the charms of Tuscany, and infuse your trip with blissful romance by staying in the best part of Florence!
The capital of Tuscany and Italy’s eighth largest city, Florence has everything to seduce visitors. A charming and romantic city, Florence has a rich history and boasts a breathtaking cultural and gastronomic heritage. It is therefore almost naturally that you have chosen your destination: Florence, Europe’s third most visited city with 16 million visitors per year, is prized by visitors for its stunning artistic and cultural wealth.
So which part of Florence should you choose to stay in? With 380,000 inhabitants, the Florentine capital is divided into fifteen districts. From Oltrarno to San Lorenzo, from the main station to the famous Vecchio Bridge, each area offers a different atmosphere to stay in Florence. Here is an overview.
San Lorenzo and San Marco: a blend of tourism and charm
Photo credit: Flickr – Esteban Chiner
Located not far from the main railway station and close the main market of the city, this neighbourhood exudes a laid-back atmosphere, and shelters the city’s oldest church, San Lorenzo Basilica, built in 1424! Donatello, Lippi, and Michelangelo contributed to the design of this 700-year-old building. Inside, discover the frescoes by Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Michelangelo. Things to see in this area:
- Primavera and Birth of Venus by Botticelli,
- Many works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael,
- The famous market of San Lorenzo,
- The San Marco Museum and the convent,
- Santissima Annunziata Square.
It’s impossible to draw up an exhaustive list of places to visit, but this district offers an authentic cultural pilgrimage to travel in time and discover a once very powerful Italy. San Marco is worth a visit because it tends to be deserted by tourists. The area is home to the Gallery dell’Academia, the Orto Botanico and its tropical plants, or the Theatre della Pergola Opera. If you are looking for more off the beaten track visits, away from hordes of tourists, visit this opera house, a place particularly favoured by artists and designers. But let’s not delude ourselves: accommodation rates in this neighbourhood are high!
Duomo, the old tourist town
Photo credit: Flickr – Shane Lin
Florence’s most central district is also its busiest, most visited, and most expensive. Discover its many churches as well as authentic picturesque streets of typical Italian Renaissance architecture. Walking around this area, you will almost constantly be looking upwards. Why? Because this part of Florence is home to an eyeful of majestic monuments such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore, the Piazza del Duomo, Florence’s most important tourist square, the Palazzo Vecchio and its tower, on the Piazza della Signoria (climb to the top of the tower and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city!).
Last but not least, the Uffizi Gallery and the Medicis Palace. This part of the historic centre – which had a tremendous influence on the development of the arts and architecture in Italy, and later in Europe – is likely to be a little noisy during nighttime. If you are looking for bargained accommodation options and a quiet area to stay in Florence, it’s necessary to look further away from the city centre!
Photo credit: Flickr – Karin Lewis (Bookatz)
In this district located east of the historic heart, the Basilica Santa Croce is definitely one of the things to see. Built under the auspices of the architect Arnolfo Di Cambio in 1294, it houses works by great artists such as Donatello, Giotto, or Cimabue. Michelangelo and Galileo are buried in Santa Croce. Here, it’s good to stroll in the city’s ancient narrow streets, dotted with chic bars and restaurants, lounge clubs, and traditional craft and goldsmithery boutiques. A pleasant neighbourhood to stay in in Florence, not far from the historical centre. Don’t forget to visit the National Library.
Santa Maria Novella
Photo credit: Flickr – Cliffano Subagio
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is emblematic of the district of the same name. Situated northwest of downtown, Santa Maria Novella is packed with luxury and high fashion boutiques for a chic and exquisite shopping experience. Where? Along Via Tornabuoni street. Should you stay in Florence only for a weekend, or a few nights, choose to stay in Santa Maria Novella as it has the advantage of being close to the central train station.
Wander along the age-old narrow cobbled streets, and contemplate the famous Piazza della Republica (Republic Square), known as the birthplace of the Roman city 2200 years ago! If you are tired of basilicas and churches, take a relaxing break in the Giardino di Valfonda, the only park in the neighbourhood.
Photo credit: Flickr – A_E_P
On the southern banks of the Arno, you can’t miss Ponte Vecchio, the city’s oldest and most emblematic shopping mall, built between 1335 and 1345. Don’t miss Santo Spirito Square, with its local markets and affordable inns, making it a good area to stay in Florence given the accommodation rates on the northern banks of the river. It’s no secret that this neighbourhood has kept the charm and tranquility of bygone days and yet it remains a highly touristic area in the city. And for good reason: the Michelangelo esplanade offers a panoramic view of Florence, probably the most famous view of the city!