Winter is a great time to visit Florence, and you will see the city in a new light – though if it does happen to snow while you’re there, you’ve been very lucky!
You might not find an excuse to stop for a gelato quite as often, but you will avoid the worst of the crowds and queues on an early-year trip to the beautiful city of Florence.
Florence is beautiful at any time of year, but if you’re lucky enough to be there when it snows you are in for a treat as the city’s Renaissance architecture and terracotta rooftops take on a preternatural glow under a dusting of ice crystals and flakes.
But snow is rare; winters are generally mild, and most of the heavy rainfall tends to occur in autumn – so it’s often perfect weather for sightseeing.
Top 10 things to see
1. Il Duomo | Piazza del Duomo
Not to be missed in any season, though of course, if you’re walking around the centre of Florence, it’s unlikely that you would miss it.
2. La Galleria Degli Uffizi | Piazzale degli Uffizi
With its priceless works by some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, you can’t skip a visit to the Uffizi Galleries on any Florence trip.
3. La Galleria Dell’Accademia | Via Rocasoli
People come from all over the world to see Michelangelo’s David. Booking is recommended, even in winter.
4. Il Palazzo Pitti | Piazza de’ Pitti
This 15th-century palace, built for Medici rival Luca Pitti, is now a fascinating museum. The Boboli Gardens are open all year (except on holidays).
5. Il Giardino dei Semplici | Via Pier Antonio Micheli
This botanical garden was created by the Medici to cultivate local medicinal plants (the semplici) in 1545. Like the Boboli Gardens, it stays open all winter.
6. Le Cappelle Medicee | Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini
The Medici family mauseoleum features the Sagrestia Nuova designed by Michelangelo.
7. Il Palazzo Vecchio| Piazza della Signoria
The city’s 13th-century town hall boasts the tallest tower in Florence.
8. Il Museo Galileo | Piazza dei Giudici
Formerly Il Museo di Storia della Scienza. Two floors of the Palazzo Castellani house permanent and temporary exhibitions; the first floor houses the Medici Collections.
9. Il Museo Ferragamo | Piazza Santa Trinita
A museum dedicated to the footwear of Florentine shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo.
10. Il Stadio Artemio Franchi | Viale Manfredo Fanti
This 43,000 capacity stadium is the home of the city’s football team, ACF Fiorentina, aka La Viola, after the colour of their shirts.
Places to stay
Though it’s still unlikely that you’ll be spending much time at the hotel when there is so much to see and do in Florence, whatever the weather, sometimes it’s nice just to look out of the window. If you find you don’t have a window, just ask if there is a Mr Emerson staying.
Borgo San Jacopo, 14
Spacious elegance on the banks of the River Arno, with a truly amazing art collection and Michelin-starred dining.
Via dei Pescioni, 2
In the heart of cultural Florence, and newly refurbished, this historic residence is a few steps from Palazzo Strozzi and Via Tornabuoni.
Via San Gallo, 80
This friendly hotel occupies the top floor of a 19th-century palazzo in the heart of the city.
Via de’ Tornabuoni, 3
Spectacular views, and the roof garden is open for breakfast and early evening cocktails.
Via Baccio Bandinelli, 98
Riva Lofts is made up of eight self-contained studios and is a really special place to stay.
Via della Scala, 18
A beautifully furnished and welcoming guest house situated near Santa Maria Novella and the historic Renaissance centre.
Via Cavour, 13
This comfortable family-run hotel is a two-minute walk from the Duomo.
Viale Michelangiolo, 1
An hotel in Oltrarno housed in a 19th-century villa with cosy rooms and a relaxing lounge.
Places to eat
Tuscans eat beans – lots of beans – and the more wintry the weather gets, the more beans they eat.
They also enjoy ribollita, trippa alla fiorentina and lampredotto, and bistecca alla fiorentina and pappa al pomodoro.
Via Sant’Onofrio, 1r
Traditional Tuscan fare is the staple of this excellent trattoria where the menu is updated on a daily basis. Expect authentic Florentine dishes including tripe and lampredotto.
ALLA VECCHIA BETTOLA
Viale Vasco Pratolini, 3/5/7 ? +39 055 224158
This little restaurant is popular with Florentines and visitors alike and serves local Tuscan dishes like pappa al pomodoro as well as pasta and risotto. Booking is recommended.
Borgo San Jacopo, 62r
One-Michelin-starred Borgo San Jacopo has unforgettable views of the Arno and serves fine dining with contemporary interpretations of classic Italian dishes.
Piazza degli Ottaviani, 16r
Founded in 1886, this characterful, family-run restaurant offers a celebration of authentic Tuscan food, including the famed Florentine steak, in a traditional, welcoming atmosphere.
Via dei Palchetti, 6r
For a unique dining experience, diners eat from the authentic Tuscan menu at convivial refectory-style tables. A well-stocked cellar offers the best of Tuscan and world wines.
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