Spend a weekend in Florence and discover a city which captures the essence of Italy. It's the birthplace of modern Italian language and the seat of the Renaissance. Dante wrote Divina Commedia here and it's also where to see the Duomo and browse the Uffizi. Ready to go? Have a look at how to plan perfect weekend breaks in Florence. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy.
Make the legendary Galleria degli Uffizi your first stop for its collection of Renaissance masterpieces displayed across a grand, three-floor exhibition space right in the heart of historic Florence.
It's one of the city's many must-do sights and can get incredibly busy, especially in high summer. So with just a weekend to play with, avoid queues and book a small group tour of the Uffizi in advance.
Your next stop should be the church of Santa Croce. Another major site in Florence, it was founded in the 13th century and is perhaps best known for the Pazzi Chapel which contains Giotto's remarkable St. Francis frescoes.
A base close to the historic centre of Florence will make the most of your weekend, so think about booking La Casa di Morfeo. It's a charming boutique hotel and right next to Santa Croce so you can spend more time browsing.
Avoid tourists and bag a bargain picnic lunch of salami, cheese and biscotti at Sant’Ambrogio food market. Alternatively, head to Il Pizzaiuolo on Via dei Macci and treat yourself to the city's best pizza.
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You can't visit Florence without crossing the famous Ponte Vecchio at least once. It's the city's oldest bridge, crosses the River Arno and links the historic centre to the Oltrarno district.
The bridge itself is home to many of the finest jewellers in Italy, and always has been, so its century old shops are wonderful. And Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio is one of the grandest hotels in Florence, should you feel like splashing out.
Plan to spend a few hours in Palazzo Pitti exploring incredible museums like Galleria Palatina which contains over 500 works from the Medici collection including the world's largest concentration of paintings by Raphael.
You may only have a weekend, but make sure to leave a little time for the Giardino di Boboli. Or you could organise your day wisely and book a guided tour of Palazzo Pitti, see everything and avoid ticket queues.
Visit 15th century Capella Brancacci in Santa Maria del Carmine just off Piazza del Carmine. Often called 'the Sistine of the early Renaissance', the Capella is part of the main church and best known for its extraordinary Masaccio frescoes
If early Renaissance Florence appeals to you, stay in the 15th century at Santo Nome di Gesú on Piazza del Carmine, close to Capella Brancacci and a short walk from Palazzo Pitti and Ponte Vecchio.
Do as locals do in Florence and make for the Sante Croce area in time for aperitivo. And if you're here in summer, Sant’Ambrogio's rooftop bars serve up aperitivo with a side of stunning city views.
NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa is a great weekend break base and it's just a few minutes walk from Ristorante Oliviero on Via delle Terme, an excellent choice for classic Florentine cooking.
The Museo Nazionale del Bargello, or Bargello as it's better known, concentrates on the Renaissance. Visit to see Michelangelo sculptures and works by Cellini, Donatello and Verrocchio or take a guided walking tour of Florence for the in-depth Bargello experience.
The Duomo dome is practically the symbol of Florence. Designed by Brunelleschi in the 15th century it remains one of the world's most remarkable feats of engineering, dominates the city and is even more impressive up close.
Climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome for unmatched views of Florence and beyond. Or, if you really want to get under the skin of Florence's most famous landmark, take a Duomo small group tour.
The magnificent Museo dell’Opera del Duomo contains over 750 major works of art, including Michelangelo's The Deposition, more commonly know as the Florentine Pieta.
The Donatella room is another reason to visit, and the museum is also home to important artefacts from the Baptistery di San Giovanni displayed here for conservation purposes. To make the most of your weekend, stay at nearby Hotel Duomo Firenze.
Enormous San Lorenzo Church is another Brunelleschi masterpiece to discover in Florence. Not only does it contain works by Michelangelo and Donatello, its also where you can see the monumental Medici Mausoleum.
Take your time to explore the vast San Lorenzo complex, then visit Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana next door. Or go deeper still, book a tour, and follow in the footsteps of the Medici with local guides.
Santa Maria Novella's exterior is one of the most distinctive in Italy and many consider the church to be more handsome than any other in Florence, where beautiful churches are certainly not in short supply.
The church façade is by Alberti and, if you've time to explore, you'll discover frescoes by Ghirlandaio decorating the interior. Don't miss the nearby museum and think about staying at Hotel Croce di Malta, a short walk from Santa Maria Novella.
Enjoy a leisure last night dinner at iO in San Frediano. Once a traditional Florentine delicatessen, this interesting restaurant is now a slow-food movement hero and specialises in fresh, sustainable and seasonal local ingredients.
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