Palazzo Vecchio before dark

My tour of Italy continues onto Florence. After catching the train from Pisa to Florence we made our way from the station to our super cute boutique hotel ‘Borghese Art Palace Hotel‘. The hotel was 4 star and I absolutely loved it, the standard of service was excellent from the buffet breakfast to the receptionists and concierge who were all so friendly and welcoming. Our room was lovely and I felt so comfortable there, it also had an amazing mirror for selfies…what more can an aspiring blogger ask for! Let’s not forget its great location which was 5 minutes walk from the main attraction ‘Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore’ (Florence Duomo to you and I) and the adjoining Giotto’s bell tower.

Borghese Art Palace Hotel Florence Italy

Borghese Art Palace Hotel.

Borghese Art Palace Hotel Bar Florence

The beautiful hotel bar in the evening.

Although we only had a 2 night stay in Florence we actually only had 1 full day to go sightseeing. Our main goal for this day was to climb to the top of the 3 main attractions: the Duomo cupola (463 steps), Giotto’s bell tower (414 steps) and Arnolfo’s tower at Palazzo Vecchio (416 steps). With all these steps you can see why I called this post ‘The Dizzy Heights of Florence’. Climbing to the top of these attractions is a great way to see the beautiful views Florence has to offer, Giotto’s bell tower was a particular favourite for me as it offered such great views of the Duomo. You can buy a combined ticket for all 5 monuments in the Piazza Duomo for €15 – this includes the cupola, bell tower, baptistery, crypt below the cathedral and Opera del Duomo Museum. This ticket can be bought from the main ticket office in the duomo or you can buy online here. If you buy your tickets from the ticket office PLEASE make sure you go to one of the electronic machines afterwards. These machines allow you to then book a time to enter the attractions, without a time you have to queue for hours. Booking a time at the machine allows you to skip the line at your scheduled time and costs NO extra. Unfortunately it seems a lot of people are unaware and spend hours waiting in line. Now cue the tourist photo’s…

Giotto's Bell Tower Florence

Duomo & Bell Tower

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral


Brunelleschi's Cupola

View of Duomo from Bell Tower

Cupola Florence

View of Duomo from Bell Tower

Giotto's Bell Tower Florence Italy

Bell Tower

Santa Maria Cathedral Florence


Giotto's Bell Tower view

View of Duomo from Bell Tower

Palazzo Vecchio Florence

View of Palazzo Vecchio

Climbing Giotto's Bell Tower

Looking down through floor of the Bell Tower

Gates of Paradise Florence

‘Gates of Paradise’ on the Baptistery. These are actually a copy – the original doors can be seen preserved in the Opera del Duomo Museum.

Palazzo Vecchio and the surrounding square, Piazza della Signoria, was also beautiful and the Jan Fabre art exhibit of a man riding a giant golden turtle was something I particularly loved. Palazzo Vecchio was a medieval fortress that has been restored and allows visitors to climb Arnolfo’s tower and also see its museum. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the museum (and we probably wouldn’t have given it the attention it deserved) so just opted to climb the 416 steps of the tower (Tower only = €10/€8 students. Museum & Tower = €14 / €12 students). I really enjoyed this climb as it wasn’t quite as busy as the duomo and bell tower which made exploring the different levels more fun, I felt less pressured to return down to make room for more people.

Duomo view from top of Arnolfo's Tower

Duomo view from top of Arnolfo’s Tower

Piazza della Signoria Florence

Piazza della Signoria

Palazzo Vecchio Italy

Inside Palazzo Vecchio

Jan Fabre Art Exhibit Florence

Jan Fabre Art Exhibit

Piazza della Signoria, man riding gold turtle florence

Palazzo Vecchio / Piazza della Signoria

One evening we decided to walk over to the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, unfortunately all the shops on the bridge were closed, I think this may have been because we visited in August which is when a lot of Italians holiday for Ferragosto. At first we were a little disappointed (at this point it was still light), but once the darkness drew in the bridge really showcased its charm and beauty. The main picture below was taken from a little restaurant/cafe just over the bridge and on your first right turn – unfortunately I forgot the name! It had a small cosy terrace overlooking the bridge as offered stunning views…and obviously some delicious wine!

Palazzo Vecchio at night

Palazzo Vecchio view from Cafe.

Last but not least (as food and wine are involved) I thought I’d mention a couple of bars and restaurants we went to. The first night we got a bit peckish so went for a midnight feast at a Mexican called Tijuana on the same street as our hotel. Mexican in Italy – I know what you’re thinking! WHY? Well sometimes in Italy, you can get a bit pasta and pizza’d out (this coming from me who can never get enough pizza). We got the chicken fondue and it was AMAZING! We also had a margarita each and they were HUGE, any they definitely packed a punch.

Tijuana Mexican restaurant Florence

Tijuana Mexican restaurant.

Lastly, was this cute little bar we found whilst wandering home from Palazzo Vecchio, the decoration inside was so edgy – I just loved it and couldn’t resist giving it a mention.

Cool bars in Florence

When in Rome…I mean Florence

cool bars in florence, Il Vinile Cafe Art Bar

I hope you enjoyed my whirlwind tour of Florence, if you have any questions about Florence or are thinking of heading there get in touch. Love…Jessica Ann xxx