Florence is a very walkable city and you really don’t need a vehicle unless you are going to drive down into the Val D’Orcia or Chianti Region. Of course, the train system there is fabulous and you can easily navigate Italy via train. If you can explore Florence on foot you will be rewarded. Around every corner if something else to see and more and more history to unearth!
If you are up for a long walk (or take a taxi) you definitely want to cross the Arno river via the Ponte Vecchio to look back and see the city from the other side.
Take a few extra minutes to walk to the next bridge down river to the Ponte Santa Trinita and look back towards the Ponte Vecchio. A lovely view and a popular tourist stop as the Ponte Vecchio is often very crowded especially when the shops are open.
The Ponte Vecchio which simply means “Old Bridge” was rebuilt in 1345 to replace an earlier bridge that was destroyed by floods and spans the Arno river. The bridge is solely devoted to goldsmiths and jewelers. It is the only bridge to survive WW II and was saved on Hitler’s specific instructions.
A worthwhile stop along the Viale dei Colli is a stop at the top at the Piazzale Michelangelo. The world famous view over Florence at sunset especially is breathtaking! You can see Santa Croce, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Campanile, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio and way in the distance the Apennine mountains which run down the center of the country. There is a copy of Michelangelo’s David overlooking the cafes.
On your way up the hill be sure to stop at Pitti Palace, Fort Belvedere, Boboli Gardens and the Giardino Bardini. The Pitti Palace now houses several museums. The Boboli Gardens are a little underwhelming and when we were there not much was blooming and it is somewhat underplanted. These gardens were commissioned by Cosimo I de’Medici in honor of his wife – Eleanora di Toledo. It was an important model for formal parks and gardens with its symmetrical and harmonious garden design.
The Bardini Garden and Villa dates back to the 14th century. Again, the view from here is like that of Piazzale Michelangelo- stunning! There are irises, roses, hydrangeas, a Japanese garden and statuary.
Before leaving Florence consider a day trip up into the hills to visit the ancient city of Fiesole with its Roman ruins.