It didn’t take Dan Brown (author of the bestseller “The Da Vinci Code”) to do PR for Florence. The famous Tuscan city, known throughout the world since the Middle Ages as a city of culture, art and commerce, has been attracting tourists from all over the world for hundreds of years. The famous Duomo (which received its current design only in the nineteenth century), the breathtaking Uffizi Museum and the ancient, large and beautiful synagogue of Florence, all these are just a sample of what ignites the imagination of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to it every year. Besides the tourist sites and the stunning architecture, the parade of great names who lived, created and worked in the city could fill entire pages. Among them are the famous Renaissance artist Michelangelo, the poet Dante Alighieri, the father of the modern Italian language and many others. In the city you can see works of art famous all over the world, such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and more.
In short, Florence is a place worth visiting. Your trip to Italy is not complete without at least taking a look at the jewels at Ponte Vechio, closely examining the works of art at the Uffizi, sipping coffee on the banks of the Arno River – the seven battles and history, and holding hands at the sunset viewed from Michelangelo’s Pizzeria.
So when is it recommended to enjoy all this goodness? You should think about it well. Ancient Florence is a very small area, and it really does not manage to accommodate the crowds of tourists that visit it at the peak of the tourist season. The fact that this time is in the summer months, when the city is hot, crowded and busy, does not make the situation any easier. In the months of July-August the city reaches capacity beyond full when it comes to the number of tourists, the guesthouses are full and the prices rise accordingly. During this period, even the places to stay in the villages and towns surrounding Florence raise prices significantly, since Tuscany is a sought-after destination for tourism in its own right.
If you have the opportunity, the most recommended seasons in terms of the weather and a tolerable load of tourists (because like Venice and Rome, in Florence there is never a moment when the city is empty of visitors) are the transition seasons, that is, the months of April to May and September to October. In these months, the weather will brighten your face, the sunsets are beautiful and the not too high demand for places to stay means that the prices definitely remain reasonable. In addition, with the friendly weather you can also enjoy the beautiful Tuscan surroundings of Florence, which you should not miss.
So as said, touristic Florence is an extremely small area. The city itself is big, but outside the area of the old city you don’t have much to look for. Of course, you can find apartments for rent and places to stay outside the city center as well, and rely on public transportation (in Tuscany and the north it is much more reliable than in southern Italy). However, if you want to be in the center of things, the recommendation is to rent a room relatively close to the old city.
If you are looking to be right in the heart of things, and are willing to pay for it, then you are advised to rent a room in the Duomo area. It is about the beating heart of the old city, around which many restaurants and attractions are concentrated. You will find everything here, and almost every point of interest will be within walking distance. However, keep in mind that this is an area crowded with tourists and highly sought after, so accommodation prices are relatively high compared to less central areas. In addition, it will be difficult for you to find services such as a supermarket, and the ones you do find will be small and expensive.
If, apart from the rich history and culture that Florence offers, you are also interested in experiencing nightlife and a more lively atmosphere, you should look for a place to stay in the neighborhoods of San Spirito (San Spirito) or San Frediano (San Frediano). Both are on the other side of the river compared to the old town, therefore housing more local Florentines. They are full of restaurants and pubs, and are the place to be if you want to also enjoy the young and fun atmosphere of this old town. However, don’t think you’ve escaped it all. These neighborhoods are also full of landmarks, stunning architecture and works of art.
For those looking to save on accommodation expenses to free up a budget for attractions and restaurants, the neighborhood to go to is San Marco. Unlike Venice, the San Marco neighborhood of Florence is the hippest and trendy place of the city. Lots of locals live here, but it’s still a short distance from the city center. It is full of historical landmarks, but at the same time you will find modern museums and a vibrant contemporary art scene. The highlight of the place is of course the concentration of low-budget guesthouses, which attract crowds of backpackers from all over the world to the neighborhood.
And finally, if you come with a family and want to be close to the center of things on the one hand, but also to breathe properly and not go crazy chasing the kids, the neighborhood for you is Santa Maria Novella. This is the first neighborhood you will see when you arrive in the city, as it is home to Florence’s main train station. It is well connected to the public transport infrastructure of Florence, so it will be easy for you to get anywhere in it. In addition, you can find everything you need there, including several parks where the children can run (although some may cost quite a bit).