Firenze (Florence) and its Renaissance beauty has charmed travelers since its beginnings. It’s no different these days, all year round. The cathedrals and chapels full of masters’ art, museums, palaces, art galleries, fashion, the famous Tuscan cuisine with its wines, its elegant piazzas and streets. Visiting Firenze in winter time, just before the holiday crowds are starting to arrive, is to me, one of the best moments to enjoy this wonderful city to the fullest. Or then again, after the holidays, when the streets are emptier again and seem to belong to you.
Firenze can be a romantic destination to visit with that special someone, have a culture and food trip with friends, come with your family, or be a happy solo traveler like I was. Everyone will be welcomed by the city and will enjoy it thoroughly, finding even too many things to do and to choose from. I have put together a travel guide for those visiting Firenze in winter time when it has dressed up for holidays, hopefully offering some inspiration to both culture and food lovers.
Le Cappelle Medicee - The Medici Chapels
The 16th century chapel’s architecture, part of the San Lorenzo monumental complex that used to be the Medici church, was based on Brunelleschi’s designs and has three distinctive parts – The Chapel of the Princes, The New Sacristy and the Crypt. The Chapel of the Princes (La Cappella delle Principe) by Brunelleschi is where the Medici Grand Dukes are resting, among them, for instance, Cosimo I de Medici. The Crypt is the last resting place for other Medici family members (some of lesser position), and The New Sacristy in its beauty was built by yet another Renaissance master, Michelangelo, again being a burial place for the Medici family, among them Lorenzo The Magnificent. Since Michelangelo wasn’t able to complete it before his transfer to Rome, some parts of it were continued by his students Montelupo and Montorsoli, and the whole Sacristy finalized by Giorgio Vasari and Bernardo Buontalenti. Taking into account how many great masters have been working on it, it’s no wonder that one can’t help but to me mesmerized by the breathtaking painted ceilings and sculptures, among the latter some of the finest pieces by Michelangelo, such as the Day and Night or Dusk and Dawn. It’s quite essentially a must for any art lover.
Mercato Centrale - Central market with its food court
From food for the soul to food for the body. Since the Firenze central market is not far away from the Medici Chapels, it’s actually a perfect way to continue your day. The central market with its food court is on two floors with countless places for buying the typical Tuscan food products and to sit down in one of the small restaurants or wineries gathered on the second floor. Anything from street food to truffles to cantucci and to the best Tuscan wines are there to try. Yours truly was enjoying a pasta with fresh black truffles with a glass of Chianti Classico, not to mention the selection of local tastes taken home with me.
Christmas Market in Piazza Santa Croce
That is an attraction in place for the holiday period, but when your visit is exactly at that time, it’s a lovely location to go and to get into the Christmas mood. The market has an international vibe, offering in addition to Italian food products and small gift items also a selection from France, Germany, Austria etc. Having a hot wine and a nice panino with porchetta, whilst listening to the market singers performing Christmas carols, brings a real holiday feeling.
Piazza della Signoria, Gucci museum and Ristorante Frescobaldi
The central square of Firenze with its famous Palazzo Vecchio palace and Uffizi Gallery that are a must for any history, culture and art lover, is also home to Gucci museum, taking you to the tour through the history of this legendary fashion house. Those who love to take their coffee or have a dinner in style, don’t miss the nearby Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura or Ristorante Frescobaldi, the latter belonging to the one of the greatest wine houses of Toscana.
San Frediano neighborhood
For those who have already visited the most well-known art and culture spots in the central Firenze and would like to do something a bit different, I’m recommending crossing one of the beautiful bridges over the Arno river. There you can find, for instance, a lovely San Frediano neighborhood with its small restaurants, art shops, wineries, residential houses etc. It’s a calmer part of Firenze, perfect for a relaxing walk away from the crowds.
Arrivederci, Firenze! Ci vediamo presto!
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