Florence is said to be one of the most visited cities in Italy. This beautiful city is the center for Renaissance art in Italy and has produced some of the country’s best artists. This is reflected in the architecture, sculptures, and art pieces around the city.
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One of the main attractions of Florence is of course the statue of David by the sculptor Michelangelo. The Uffizi Gallery is also well worth a visit if you are ever in Florence as well.
Must see sites
I chanced upon a rainy day in Florence, but I feel that the grey weather gave the city more character in a way. There were also less people around and I was able to capture more of just the Florentine structures on their own.
The Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower) is the main church of Florence and also known as the Duomo by locals.
It is certainly an impressive sight to behold and you wonder at the amount of work put into creating this beautiful mosaic of pink and green marble panels on its exterior.
You can get a very good view of the dome and the rest of the city by climbing up to the top of the Campanile (bell tower). If you prefer, you can also go up to the dome for a view of the bell tower instead.
The River Arno, which cuts through the old part of the city, makes for a picturesque scene. Walk along the path towards the Ponte Vecchio for a view towards both ends of the river.
Somewhere along the way, I found a lone bicycle on its own in the drizzle. It was the perfect set up for what is now one of my favourite scenes of Florence.
While in Florence, take a walk down to the Piazza della Signoria to see a copy of Michelangelo’s David; explore the Basilica di San Lorenzo and Boboli Gardens; and head up to Piazzale Michelangelo where a bronze replica of the statue of David overlooks a panoramic view of Florence from higher ground.
There are many other points of interest in the Tuscan region within a short drive from Florence. One of them is Pisa, home of the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I was blessed with a sunny day on my visit to Pisa and the whole tower just stood out brightly against the blue sky. Of course, one cannot leave Pisa without trying to get at least one good cheesy picture with the leaning tower.
That said, do not forget to check out the Pisa Cathedral (Duomo di Pisa), which is right in front of the tower.
Another short road trip away is the hill town of San Gimignano in the province of Siena.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also known as the Town of Fine Towers, and is famous for its medieval architecture and encircling walls.
The main square of the town is Piazza dell Cisterna. From there, follow the signs to the lookout points, which offer amazing views of the surrounding valley below.
What equipment to bring when travelling light?
Packing light is always a challenge and camera equipment is usually bulky, especially if you are shooting with a DSLR.
On long picturesque trips, I usually travel with just my DSLR (Canon 60D) and a decent zoom lens.
As for a tripod…you will just have to improvise and learn how to manipulate the settings on your camera to give you the best results possible!
Where to stay and eat
Another Italian city with great food. Is it possible that Italy has such a concentration of amazing dishes. Here are some of my findings and suggestions
- Bar Scudieri – great ambience for a stand up coffee.
- Eataly – sample a range of Italian foods here.
- San Lorenzo Market Food Court
There are few hidden gems in this city like the Savonarola Hotel. Clean, nice and friendly. I do not ask more than that
The other visited cities in this photography trip series
This post was written in collaboration with Stephanie Chew, our European expert