Five things to do in… Florence

In the heart of Tus­cany, la dolce vita is to be found through­out one of Italy’s most beau­ti­ful cities…

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Tus­cany’s cap­i­tal city fea­tures Re­nais­sance mas­ter­pieces, stun­ning ar­chi­tec­ture and cool con­tem­po­rary street art – and, of course, you’re sure to en­joy a warm Ital­ian wel­come.

1 climb the Duomo

If it’s a view you’re look­ing for, head to The Cathe­dral of Saint Mary of the Flower, bet­ter known as Il Duomo di Firenze. Fa­mous for its iconic dome – the world’s largest un­til 1881 – the stun­ning fres­coes on the in­te­rior are worth climb­ing the 476 stairs for. But be pre­pared to ma­noeu­vre in some rather tight spa­ces to get there.

If you’re not out of puff, the ad­ja­cent Giotto’s Cam­panile (bell tower) of­fers an­other spec­tac­u­lar vista. Climb­ing the Duomo costs €8, the Cam­panile €6. Queue-free tick­ets are avail­able for €15.

2 ex­plore on foot

Florence’s his­toric cen­tre is small, so per­fect for walk­ing around. But it’s not all cob­ble­stones and mar­ble palaces – there’s plenty of green­ery, too.

The ter­raced Boboli Gar­dens slope down be­hind the Palazzo Pitti (which houses sev­eral ma­jor mu­se­ums). Once a lav­ish gar­den for the Medici fam­ily, it’s now a pub­lic park full of Re­nais­sance and clas­si­cal sculp­tures and hid­den grot­tos, in­clud­ing the fairy-tale-es­que Grotta di Buon­tal­enti.

3 learn about leather

Florence has a long tra­di­tion of leather mak­ing, and there are plenty of places to buy it – whether from bou­tique shops or the market. But you’ll need to know your stuff to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween the real deal and fake-Ital­ian. The Leather School in Santa Croce teaches the process, from sourc­ing to hand-sewing and dyeing. One-hour tours (€14 per per­son, max 20 peo­ple per group) run twice daily, Mon-Fri (email info@ scuo­ladel­cuoio.com).

4 eat like a lo­cal

For Ital­ian pro­duce at its best, visit the cov­ered food market Mer­cato Cen­trale, where you’ll find butch­ers, bak­ers, cheese­mon­gers, fish­mon­gers and sell­ers of lo­cal olive oil, honey, spices, truf­fles, wines and more.

Make the most of free sam­ples and, if you plan on mak­ing big pur­chases to ship home, do hag­gle.

Mer­cato Sant’Am­bro­gio, which car­ries much of the same cen­turies-old his­tory, is geared less to tourists and more to lo­cals. Check it out.

5 Street art

Re­nais­sance mas­ter­pieces not­with­stand­ing, Florence has a lesser-known con­tem­po­rary art scene. With streets and walls their can­vas, artists like Clet Abra­ham add comic al­ter­ations to street signs. A mys­te­ri­ous artist called ‘Blub’ paints por­traits of pop­u­lar fig­ures such as the Mona Lisa and Dante un­der­wa­ter wear­ing div­ing masks!

Walk in the Medici fam­ily’s foot­steps at Boboli Gar­dens Tuck in to lo­cal del­i­ca­cies at Mer­cato Cen­trale

You can climb Giotto’s Cam­panile

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