The jewel of Renaissance Italy, Florence is the historic capital of romantic Tuscany, only an hour transfer by rail, coach or private car from Pisa airport. With direct services to Pisa airport up to six days a week from Manchester, operated by Jet2.com and Easyjet, Florence is ideal as a short city break or increasingly popular as a two centre holiday. The rolling hills of the Tuscany countryside are right on your doorstep, and historic medieval towns like Siena, San Gimignano, and Lucca are an absolute must if you can spare the additional time.
A very short two hour flight brings you from Manchester to Pisa, and once in Florence, you are surrounded by a wealth of history, stunning architecture, museums, art galleries, piazzas with fabulous restaurants and the impressive Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens – just over the River Arno, and reached by crossing the Ponte Vecchio bridge (the oldest in Florence, as well as housing a number of artisan shops, jewellers and goldsmiths.)
Dominating the Florence skyline is Brunelleschi’s Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, more commonly known as Il Duomo. The 463 steps up to the top are well worth the wait in the queue, where you will have an unforgettable panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside. Whilst you wait in the queue, there will generally be enough time to send your partner just across the piazza to one of the Gelateria and bring back a delicious ice cream ! Entry to the main cathedral is free of charge, but if you purchase a ticket to go up to the top of the dome, you also get entry into the octagonal Florence Baptistry. The stained glass windows and the ceilings of both buildings are simply stunning.
The Uffizi Gallery is arguably the best in Italy, and houses the Medici collection – a real treasure trove of world renowned Renaissance art. Another must is the Accademia di Belle Art Firenze, where Michelangelo’s huge iconic statue of David draws large crowds of visitors. Timed booking for both the Uffizi and the Accademia are essential, and you will be glad you did when you see the other lines stretching back a hundred or so metres !
There is an incredible selection of hotels available in Florence, ranging from modest great value three star properties around the Santa Maria Novella gardens, to the five star deluxe hotels closer to the Piazza del Duomo and the River Arno. The added attraction of hotels in Florence is that everything you want to see is within easy walking distance.
One thing most certainly not lacking in Florence is the number of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, and don’t worry about putting on the pounds – with all that walking around, you will soon burn off those calories !
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