Nothing excites more than a spontaneous day-trip addition – from Rome to Florence – to your Italian excursions. Taking that extra train ride and diving into a completely different atmosphere enhances your entire trip.
Last updated: September 8, 2023
Italian Adventures: A Day Trip to Florence
Florence is the capital of Tuscany, a region in central Italy. Set on the Arno River, it’s one of the most picturesque places in the country. Its charming natural surroundings pared with exquisite architectural masterpieces make a day trip to Florence from Rome unforgettable.
On the flip side, millions of tourists visit the artistic capital of Italy – for a day or longer – to enjoy the most popular cathedrals, museums, and galleries Florence is proud of.
The birthplace of Italian Renaissance, the Tuscan capital indeed astounds with its architectural and artistic masterpieces. By virtue of it, Florence has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In 1982, the historic center of the city was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.
A Day Trip to Florence from Rome: How to Get to the Capital of Tuscany
We started our day trip to Florence at 6:15 am at Rome Termini Train Station. A quick train ride and 1.5 hours later, Florence greeted us with its hustle and bustle and crowds of tourists.
TIP: This trip from Rome to Florence wouldn’t be probably possible if we didn’t find a great deal for the train ride on Omio. Once an accidental discovery, the site became my personal favorite to plan our European travels. Sure enough, a few days later when we stayed in Vienna, Austria, I used the site to organize a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. But let’s get back to our short, but memorable trip to Florence.
Upon arrival, we headed straight to the historic center of the city. Even early in the morning, Florence was filled with people, some rushing, many more taking leisurely strolls.
You could instantly distinguish tourists from locals. The visitors slowed their pace and stopped frequently to take pictures. The locals looked more determined, walking faster or trying to sell you souvenirs and other Florence-related goodies.
Places to See during Your Day Trip to Florence
Even if you prefer solitude, you need to endure some hustle and bustle of Florence and spend at least a day in its historic center. The place is packed with museums, famous squares, and impeccable architecture. Here are some of the places you should strive to see during your first day trip to Florence.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore or Florence Cathedral is one of the first buildings you notice in the city. The massive structure is located in the Piazza del Duomo and is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica, known for its various shades of green and pink, is one of Italy’s largest churches. Moreover, it’s the largest brick dome in the world.
The Uffizi Gallery is a 16th-century art museum. The place offers a great collection of Primitive and Renaissance artworks. It’s located near the Piazza della Signoria, one of the main squares of Florence.
Don’t wander far from the Uffizi Gallery. A minute walk will take you to the Palazzo Vecchio. This historic town hall overlooks the Piazza della Signoria with its treasured replica of Michelangelo’s David statue.
The main symbol of civil power of Florence, the Palazzo Vicchio is famous for its elaborate chambers and ornate courtyards.
Statue of David
The 17-foot marble statue of the Biblical character, David, is one of the most famous attractions you can see during your day trip to Florence.
The Michelangelo’s masterpiece was initially located in the Piazza della Signoria. Later it was relocated to the Galleria dell’Academia. Yet a full-size replica was put in place of the original to the delight of both the locals and visitors of Florence.
Basilica of Santa Croce
The Basilica of Santa Croce entices with its splendor exterior and size. One of the major landmarks in the city, the church is notable for its sixteen chapels and frescoes by Giotto. The site is also the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, Machiavelli, Foscolo, and Gentile.
The Pitti Palace is a 15th-century palace in Florence that houses several museums and features Italian and European masterpieces.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
Although a part of the Florence Cathedral, the Giotto’s Bell Tower stands out as a separate entity that offers incredible views of the historic center of Florence.
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is the first landmark you will see upon arrival. Located across the street from the main train station, it’s one of the most remarkable churches in Florence. The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is famous for its classic form and artworks by Giotto, Botticelli, Massaccio, and Filippino Lippi.
After a day filled with sightseeing, walk over the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone arch bridge over the Arno River. With the line of shops offering jewelries, pieces of art, and souvenirs, the place is perfect for window shopping and admiring the glorious views of the city and its surroundings.
Once the maddening crowds in the historic center of Florence becomes unbearable, walk across the Ponte Vecchio and venture to the Piazzale Michelangelo. Start your mini adventure with a nice stroll by the river and eventually swirl to narrow streets to your right.
Neither of these routes disappoints. The views from the river bank further compliment the city. The streets on this side of Florence appear to be narrow and less chaotic. The never-ending stream of people… Well, you can hardly see it here.
But it doesn’t mean that your day trip to Florence becomes less enjoyable once you walk across the famous bridge. On the contrary, the city saves the best attraction for later.
Surrounded by the sights of slightly different Florence, you reach a long stairway in about 15 minutes. The Piazzale Michelangelo, the pinnacle of your day trip to Florence, is on the other side of the stairs. The most incredible views of the city open up from the top.
Forte di Belvedere
From the Piazzale Michelangelo, you can also enjoy the views of the Forte di Belvedere, a hilltop fortress with incredible views of Florence. From here, the walls surrounding the fort resemble the Great Wall of China.
Before completing this day trip and heading back to the historic center of Florence, pause near a medieval wall you saw earlier. Turn to the left here, and walk up a steep road to the Giardino Bardini.
A charming garden with Baroque flights of steps and panoramic views of the city opened its doors to the public relatively recently. The new attraction usually gathers fewer crowds and is a perfect place to finish your day trip to Florence.
Where to Eat in Florence
Apart from the astounding attractions, the center of Florence offers the best food in the city. If you’re on a budget, nothing can beat great taste, experience, and, of course, prices of street food. From vegetable panini to all sorts of meat sandwiches, your choices are rather broad.
For pasta and hot soup, we recommend Agricola Toscana. Their tomato and bread soup is divine. The warm dish is good for any season and is especially popular with vegetarians and vegans.
Where to Shop in Florence
Most or the shops and stores, you will also find in the old town of Florence. The street perfect for sightseeing and exploration in early morning turns into a shopping arena in the afternoon. At this time numerous vendors occupy the streets and sell everything from food to souvenirs, handmade goods, and clothes. With such an abundance of choices, it’s almost impossible to leave empty-handed.
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