Last June, I was lucky enough to travel to Florence to celebrate the end of exams and my birthday with my best friend. A glossy new handbook of the city and many pairs of impractical shoes in tow- it was destined to be a great trip! Our expectations were high; but the beautiful Florence did not disappoint. This stunning city is only a short flight away and should be at the top of every budding adventurer’s travel bucket list. So, you can either take my word for it and book your trip now or read the 10 reasons why I think Florence makes the best European city break…
1.) THE FOOD
Right let’s start with the important stuff… Italy is famous for its food and drink and Florence does not disappoint in this respect. Pizza, pasta, gelato and wine…what’s not to love? Resist the lure of chain fast food outlets and make the most of the authentic Italian cuisine on offer. Expect al fresco dining and soak up the hot climate and hustle and bustle of the Florentine piazzas. Dining out is surprisingly budget friendly; but if you’re looking to save a few pennies (which student isn’t?) stay in an apartment with self-catering facilities and explore the local food markets.
2.) THE WEATHER
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and in June it was hot, hot, hot – making it the perfect destination for sun-seekers who are, also, looking for a bit of culture. With average high temperatures of 28°C in June and 31°C in July remember to pack your sun cream!
3.) 2 CITIES FOR THE PRICE OF 1
Florence does have an airport; but by flying into Pisa International Airport you can experience two cities in one trip. A short bus journey, from Pisa Airport, will take you directly to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where you can appreciate the culture and history and, also, take the obligatory ‘I’m holding up the tower’ photo. From Pisa you can catch a train or get a very cheap coach (tickets start at about €5 each way) to Florence. The journey between Pisa and Florence guarantees beautiful views of the Tuscan landscape.
Once the capital of Italy, Florence has a long and rich history. Arguably, the best way to enjoy Florence’s history is through its architecture. The must-see sites are the Il Duomo Di Firenze (climb its 463 steps and enjoy truly breath-taking panoramic views), the Palazzo Pitti, the Ponte Vecchio, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria.
5.) ART & CULTURE
Florence is exceptionally rich in terms of its art and cultural offerings. No trip to Florence is complete without a trip to the Uffizi gallery, and its student discount, café and of course the works of Botticelli and Michelangelo mean that it really cannot be missed. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, the artistic and cultural opportunities in Florence are endless.
6.) PHOTO- OPs
You won’t find a more ‘insta-worthy’ city than Florence! Whether it’s the view of a piazza or side street or the view from the top of the Duomo or Piazzale Michealangelo, you won’t be able to put your phone or camera down! Cross the river and go up to the Piazzale Michealangelo at sunset where you will find the most amazing view that you will probably ever see.
7.) BUDGET FRIENDLY
With cheap flights, reasonably priced food and accommodation for every budget a trip to Florence won’t break the bank! Look out for last minute deals as these are usually really good value for money. Go on spend that student loan, you’ll only be a student once…
8.) SMALL AND PERFECTLY FORMED
Rest assured you won’t have to deal with any complex public transport systems in Florence; as you can experience the whole city on foot. Everything is within walking distance and by the time you leave you’ll be so acquainted with the streets that the city will feel like home. (Note: only in this context are Southampton and Florence in any way comparable!) Walking means no additional travel expenses as well #bonus.
9.) THE LOCALS
Unlike in Southampton, the locals of Florence are very friendly… I expect the heat and wine have something to do with this! Acquaint yourself with some basic Italian before your travels (or buy a guidebook with useful phrases) and you’ll be able to ask for your photo to be taken and for restaurant recommendations in no time.
10.) FOOD AND WINE (again)
Note: Travel to Florence for this reason alone.