With beautiful snow filled pictures popping up this week in Florence, it’s looking even more incredible this winter. Having lived in Florence for almost 5 years, I admit it I am biased. For me this magical city packed with history is a year round destination, however many only think of it only as an Italian summer fling. Consider these when planning your perfect winter weekend away…
1- No Tourists
There is no getting away from it, summer in Florence is hectic, the beautiful winding streets become packed with tourists, squeezing through alleyways and forming queues in front of all the best gelaterias. Locals head for the hills (literally) or the sea side, to escape the hustle and bustle of peak season. However during the winter, the city is yours. The Uffizi and Accademia Gallery filled with the grand masters are much more accessible and you can take time to savour the historical surroundings in peace. Wander along the banks of the River Arno or dream about your next jewellery splurge on the famous Ponte Vecchio in a leisurely fashion.
2- Value For Money
Florence is not a cheap destination, especially in the peak summer months, however during the winter you can get some seriously good off-peak deals. Direct flights into the UK from multiple airport locations can be as little as £60 return into Pisa, which is an quick and easy transfer into Florence. Plus best of all, many of the beautiful luxury hotels along the Arno and in the palazzos around Florence offer low season rates. You can even find special offers on some tours and museums due to the lower demand.
3- Italian Comfort Food
Cold wintery days made brighter with homemade Italian goodies! Whilst the hot summer days may bring on cravings for ice cold gelato and light caprese salads, Florence is ripe in winter with rich homemade dishes, traditional favourites including Tuscan Ribollita soups, gnocchi and every type of pizza and pasta imaginable. The streets of Florence are filled with unexpected cosy corners to curl up and enjoy a roaring fire or sip on cioccolata calda, a perfect spot to try is Hemmingways chocolaterie, offering a selection of incredible hot chocolates and cakes, perfect fuel for a winter walk.
4- The Shopping
During the summer being inside seems crazy, however during the winter retreating from the cold is a good excuse to check out the local designers, plus it’s sale season! Florence has the usual high street names but also offers some wonderful local shopping experiences and brands, which can only be found here. From indoor markets and local artisan workshops making mosaics, silverware and linen there is an amazing selection on offer. Another favourite location, which is a shopping destination in it’s own right due to its stunning architecture is Farmacia Santa Maria Novella, it’s the world’s oldest pharmacy and along with luxury products to purchase also offers a beautiful museum with artefacts dating back to the 16th century.
5 – You Can Ski in Tuscany!
Florence is ideally located to access the surrounding Tuscan countryside, from vineyards to cooking classes, the same wonderful experiences are available in summer and winter (often cheaper during the winter). Plus it offers a few you may not have even considered! Arezzo in Tuscany, offers antiques fairs throughout the winter months boasting the finest antique pieces, while Tuscany also offers the highest number of hot springs throughout the whole of Italy. So make wellness a priority this winter and sample the thermal waters. Tuscany is also surprisingly, home to some fantastic skiing, with the Pistoia Mountains offering 80 kilometres of powder white slopes, making up 26 runs in total. So base yourself in Florence but keep some time to explore, you will need it!