Florence, or Firenze as it is known in Italian, is the capital of the province of Florence and the region of Tuscany. Located in central Italy, Florence is approximately 145 miles northwest of Rome. The area is surrounded by vineyards, orchards, farms and villas set in rolling countryside.
The city was founded in the 1st century BC as a Roman military Colony, and, over the course of history has been a republic, the seat of a Duchy of Tuscany, the Italian capital (from 1865 – 70). Between the 14th and 16th centuries, Florence was a centre of commerce, finance, and learning, in particular, for the arts. There are a number of well-known cultural icons linked to the area including Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli and Galileo and of course, the area is well known as the home of the Medici family, who were amongst its most renowned rulers.
The area is considered to be an historic centre, and in 1982 was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It goes without saying that Florence is full of instagrammable spots but here are some of the most popular.
Ponte Vecchio Bridge
A medieval bridge that spans the Arno River, Ponte Vecchio is a unique bridge that houses a number of small shops. Once home to many butchers, these shops are now the place to find jewellery and souvenirs. A walk across the bridge, including the obligatory shot from the bridge is a must, but this is one place you want to take a shot of from elsewhere. For the best photos of the bridge, you really are best standing on the nearby Ponte Santa Trinitia; just mind out for the hawkers that congregate there.
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
The church of Santa Maria Novella, which shouldn’t be confused with the train station that bears the same name is an incredibly pretty church and very instagrammable. With its stunning façade, the church itself is worthy of several photos but the wider area offers you that little bit more. The piazza outside the church used to be the location for chariot races; making it the idea spot for a walking shot or simply a fantastic wide angled view. If you get the chance to visit at night-time then do so. With the soft lighting of the church and the relative quietness of the piazza there is a magical and very instagrammable quality to be found. While you’re in the area don’t forget to take a few snaps at the nearby Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, a 600-year-old perfumery.
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura
No trip to any region of Italy can truly be complete without at least a few foodie photographs; the Italians are passionate about good food so you may be spoilt for choice. However, the most instagrammable food spot in Florence is the Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura (the Gucci Garden restaurant). Florence, the birthplace of Gucci, is the only location in the world where you can dine in full Gucci glory and the menu for the restaurant has been designed by Massimo Bottura, a world-renowned chef with three Michelin stars. The Tortellini in crema di Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the most popular dishes on the menu, with the Gucci Burger, complete with pink Gucci takeaway box another popular menu item.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
No trip to Florence is complete without a trip to the iconic Cathedral de Santa Maria del Fiore. Its truly magnificent dome is so well known that the cathedral is often referred to simply as the Duomo – this is arguably the most famous site in Florence. The building itself is a frenzy of decorations so not only should you be taking plenty of photographs it is worth taking the time to appreciate the fine architectural details as well. There are also the rather adorable angels that you will find carved into the pillars at the main doorway which are very instagrammable. For those who are afraid of heights, an indoor tour, with plenty of photographs is a must; remember to look up!
Parking in Florence – A tip!
Florence is a bustling city and that means lots of traffic and difficulties when it comes to parking, so whether you are arriving from the North or South of the city, head for Scandicci. Just outside the town you will find a large parking lot, the Villa Costanza just off the A1 motorway. There are plenty of spots for cars and busses here and the tram to Florence departs every 3-4 minutes. The cost of both parking and tickets for the tram is very reasonable and certainly well worth it to avoid getting caught in city centre traffic.
With all these spots to take in and photograph, you’re sure to be spoilt for choice in Florence. Make sure you take plenty of photos at all times of day at night, and your Instagram feed will certainly benefit from it.