Following in the Footsteps of the Renaissance – A Visit to Romantic Florence

As you stroll through the enchanting streets of beautiful Florence, don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel a wave of creative inspiration wash over you.

The Italian city is widely considered to be the cradle of the Renaissance and the Tuscan capital has attracted a steady stream of creatives since the 14th century.

From its magnificent architecture to world-class art and gourmet cuisine, a visit to Florence, or Firenze, won’t be easily forgotten.

As it’s February, the month of love, read on to plan your ideal trip to romantic Florence, a city bursting with life, love and history.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic centre of Florence should be your first port of call. The magnificently preserved architecture allows visitors to vividly imagine walking in the footsteps of the great artists of the past.

With many of the greatest thinkers and artists of the time, and indeed of all time, living in Florence during the Renaissance, there is something to see in every corner of the city.

Florence’s most spectacular attraction is the Basilica Santa Maria di Fiore, or Il Duomo as it is more commonly known.

The principal church of Florence, Il Duomo, dominates the city’s medieval landscape and its most striking feature is the spectacular dome, which was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in 1436.

Tourists flock to this architectural wonder year round, with constant queues forming alongside the cathedral’s high walls.

While inside, you have the option to climb to the top of the dome, however, if you would prefer to include the dome in your city view, I would recommend climbing Giotto’s Campanile instead. But do feel free to climb both towers should your heart and fitness level desire.

Located right next to Il Duomo, the view from the tower offers an unrivalled panorama showing the 45-metre wide dome and the historic centre of Florence.

From Piazza del Duomo, you can easily stroll to any of the major attractions, plazas and museums located within the historic centre.

The famed Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge of Florence is also only a short 10-minute walk away from Piazza del Duomo. The ancient bridge over the River Arno connects the east and west sides of Florence.

The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge crossing the river Arno until the year 1218 and there have been shops on the bridge since the 13th century. Of course, over time, the shops have changed from a variety of food producers to the jewellery stores that now call the bridge their home.

Despite the hordes of tourists crossing the bridge every day, the Ponte Vecchio is still quite a romantic spot in the city, offering beautiful views over the river. From the banks, you can appreciate views of this unique bridge, with the charming little shops and arches transporting you back to the past.

In terms of museums, I would recommend a visit to Galleria dell’ Academia, a museum of art associated with the academy of fine arts. This museum is home to Michelangelo’s David and other notable works.

Also worth visiting is Museo Casa di Dante, which will appeal to all those fascinated with poet Dante Alighieri. The Florence native is best known as the author of the epic poem, Divine Comedy, with the first part, Inferno, following Dante as he journeyed through the nine circles of hell. This museum honours the life and works of the writer.

Make sure to visit Piazza della Signoria, which is home to a number of impressive sculptures, both originals and replicas. You’ll find a replica of Michelangelo’s David among the works of art in this plaza.

For a moment of escapism, pop into the Boboli Gardens. Located close to Palazza Pitti, the beautiful gardens are full of historic sculptures, grottos, ancient trees and a welcome spot of shelter from the blazing Italian sun.

From the incredible amphitheatre, you can explore the many gardens and passages in the Boboli Gardens. Despite being a popular tourist spot, the gardens are so large that you will come across some quiet nature passages, which always remind me of The Secret Garden, one of my favourite childhood novels.

The perfect place to experience some nature in the city, the Boboli gardens are located a bit further away from most of Florence’s other attractions.

An 18-minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio, simply cross the bridge and make your way to Palazzo Pitti and an afternoon of nature and relaxation.

The Renaissance marked the end of medieval Europe and the beginning of a new modern era. Spreading to all corners of Europe, Florence attracted some of the greatest thinkers and artists in history.

Inspiring artists and other creatives for centuries, it’s not uncommon to wander through this city in search of inspiration.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can see during a short stay in Florence and you’ll probably need to return to this wonderful city many times over in order to fully appreciate its splendour and history.

How to get there? Before you can follow in the steps of Dante, Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci, you first need to make it to Florence.

As Florence’s airport is quite small and there are no direct flights from Ireland, your best bet is to fly direct to Pisa, which is only an hour and a half from Florence by car or train. You can fly direct to Pisa from the end of March with Ryanair.

A nice idea would be to prolong your holiday by a day so that you can visit Pisa. A small city, you’ll spend your time here exploring the Piazza dei Miracoli, which is home to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

FEATURE BY SARAH GLASCOTT

Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.

Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.

A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.

Sarah Glascott Sarah Glascott

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