As well as lots of delicious cooking, and of course eating, during my recent trip to Tuscany, my host Flavours Holidays included not only a wine tasting trip but also a day out in Florence. After all, it would be a crime to visit this part of Tuscany and not see both the cathedral, Il Duomo di Firenze, and the Ponte Vecchio bridge, iconic symbols of this beautiful city. Join me on a Florence walking tour.
Florence walking tour
1. Interno Mercato
We set off after breakfast and started our tour with a wander around the Interno Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo, one of Europe’s biggest indoor food markets; the perfect place to pick up some foodie souvenirs of the trip including dried porcini mushrooms and aged Parmagiano Reggiano. We didn’t buy any of the traditional almond biscuits as we now knew how to make them ourselves!
You’ll find the market on Piazza del Centro, although the entrance is rather obscured by the outdoor market stalls.
2. Sagrestia Vecchia on Piazza San Lorenzo
above: The leather market with the Sagrestia Vecchia in the background
3. Piazza del Duomo
From here we walked through the leather market, passed the Sagrestia Vecchia on Piazza San Lorenzo and on to the Piazza San Giovanni and the Battistero di San Giovanni, a stunning building adjacent to the Piazza del Duomo and the beautiful cathedral, The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore commonly known simply as the Duomo.
above: The stunning facade of Florence’s cathedral decorated in pink, white and green marble
The queues to go inside the cathedral were stretching around the piazza so we decided against going in
and had a gelato instead!
4. Piazza della Signoria
From the Piazza del Duomo we headed down Via del Calzaiuoli and on to the Piazza della Signora for a peak at the replica of Michelangelo’s David. This is the location that the original once stood, before it was moved to the Accademia Gallery in Florence in 1873. It was really great having Franca, our Flavours hostess, with us as she knew exactly where she was going and had lots of interesting anecdotes to tell us about the city.
5. Piazzali degli Ufizzi
A short walk down the Piazzali degli Ufizzi leads to the River Arno for a lovely view of the river in one direction and in the other, Florence’s most famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio.
6. Ponte Vecchio
Walking along the river bank we soon reached the Medieval bridge itself. The shops that were once butchers are now full of jewellers and art dealers. You can still the Medieval shutters.
7. Trattoria Palle D’Oro
From the bridge we walk up Via Calimali, Piazza della Republica and Via Roma back to the Piazza San Giovani and retrace our steps to the leather market. In an unassuming side street, Canto Della Cella Di Ciardo, we head for Trattoria Palle D’Oro for lunch.
The above photograph of this traditional trattoria was taken earlier in the morning but when we returned at one o’clock inside was jam-packed full of locals and it was lucky that we had reserved a table. A lovely lunch followed with the usual tasty cheese and thinly sliced meats for a starter followed by a choice of pasta and meat dishes including stuffed rabbit pictured below.
After lunch we had about an hour on our own to look around so I headed back to Piazza del Duomo with the intention just to soak up the atmosphere but I noticed the queue to go inside the cathedral was much shorter now and had time to pop inside. The perfect end to a fabulous Florence walking tour.
But my day wasn’t quite over yet, we still had another cooking lesson to come that evening.
In contrast, the vast Gothic interior is rather plain apart from the mosaic on the floor
above: Vasari’s fresco inside the dome itself, begun in 1572, but completed by his student, Federico Zuccaro in 1579
below: The Last Judgement detail of the dome’s fresco.
For a more in-depth guide to Florence check out 48 hours in Florence.
Thank you to Flavours Holidays for inviting me on this culinary short break. As always I am free to write whatever I wish and will always give you my unbiased, honest opinion.
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I love your pictures. I went to Florence once and it rained the whole time. I remember only being soaked through. I’d love to go back when it’s not raining and exploring some of your suggestions.
wow! They’ve done an INCREDIBLE job on cleaning the facade. That was in progress when I visited a few years ago. I have a couple of pictures from then over here http://force-of-nature.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=24. One side of the facade was covered in scaffold and you had to choose some non conformist angles to avoid getting them in the images!
Wow, this makes me want to go to Florence right now! I was trying to get there a few months ago but it just didn’t line up. Hopefully in the near future…
I especially like all your shots of the markets. The cheese looks heavenly!
I have been away from Florence for too long. The photos of the Duomo and the gelato triggered a yearning to return.
I know that feeling. Hope you get to go back soon!
Next week I will be working on organising a short break to Florence. It’s about time I tasted some of that gelato
Love your photos and your stops in Florence, so many great places to eat along the way! Let me know next time you’re in town!
Love Mercato Centrale! Hope you checked out the remnants of Santa Reparata below the cathedral.
Sadly no, it was rather a flying visit! Next time.
Great photos from one of my favourite cities, Kat… I love all the close-ups of the food. The dried porcini mushrooms look so interesting – I bet there was quite an aroma in there! 🙂
You really have captured a series of great highlights in Florence in this post. Of course, a walking tour of any city is awesome because you truly see the insides of a city rather than just the tourist paths that media guides send you on. I will never forget our walking tour of Paris over Christmas that was awesome. We made the tour ourselves and just made it our duty to ‘get lost’ among the side streets and its crazy just how much beauty you see along the way.
If you have been paying attention to our recent Dream Destinations series, you will have noticed that we have featured several Italian locations – Rome, Pompeii and Venice! Florence is now added to that list for sure.
Gorgeous, tempting markets, cathedral, piazza, ice cream, and lovely scenery. What a journey through your eyes, really beautiful. Thanks 🙂
My pleasure! 🙂
My daughter is headed back to Florence in August and I can’t wait to visit her. I still have dreams about the market there! Beautiful shots inside the Duomo Kat.
Thanks Alison. I look forward to hearing about your visit and your photos. Wish I could have spent a bit more time there.
It’s been too long, thanks for taking us on a wonderful tour and highlights of the city. I don’t think I can ever leave that market without sampling everything – a picnic outdoors sounds excellent for Florence.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! 🙂
I love the photos from fruit and veggie market and the one with delicious-looking cheese! Florence is so beautiful! How long did you stay there?
I was only in Florence itself for a few hours. I was staying on a farmhouse near Pisa for a few days but even in those few days I learnt a surprising amount about Italian cooking.
Have just seen your walking tour of Florence, it is gorgeous, my husband and I went there in 2010 but we didn’t see that much only there for a few hours, but will definitely love to go again. Our daughter is a school teacher and had the privilege of going with 3 other teachers and 20 students and saw a lot of Florence and just loved it. Thanks you.
Thanks Mary and how lovely for your daughter to get an opportunity like that. I do hope you get to go back before too long. I was only there a short time too and would love to spend more time there.
Florence is one of my favorite European cities. It has been a while since I was last there but remember it fondly. I used to do walking tours when I was guide in Italy so can imagine the person showing you around had lots of little details to share.
I’m not surprised such a beautiful city and April is the perfect time to visit, when it’s not too hot or crowded (although it was still busy!)