Aside from Rome, Tuscany is perhaps the most well-known region of Italy. Hugely popular as a location for Destination Weddings – Beth and Tom’s big day here was incredible – Tuscany has some of the most picturesque landscapes in all of Europe, and nowhere says romance like its biggest city, Florence (also known as Firenze). Renowned around the world for its historic architecture – particularly the 15th century Duomo – and for being a fashion capital, Florence has to be an option for your honeymoon. Not only will you get a true taste of Italy and its beautiful countryside, but you will also be able to enjoy brilliant urban markets, art houses, and stunning scenery.
A brief introduction
Though a tourist hotspot for its fantastic wines and vast rolling hills set against a metropolitan centre, Florence is on a par with Rome for historical significance. The birthplace of the Reniassance era – which saw Europe turn from religion to humanism, with a whole new system of politics, ethics and art introduced – Florence was home to intense and radical social changes in the 14th century. Heard of the term ‘Machiavellian‘? Well here you can not only visit his house, but explore the town that inspired his work.
If you’re not overly interested in history however, then Florence still has a huge amount to offer you for your idyllic Italian honeymoon. Rich in art and typical Italian cuisine, you will have no chance to get bored or hungry whilst here. Florence has a population of nearly 400,000 people set amongst a rather small space – and you can experience the excitement of bustling streets, open markets, and beautiful monuments. Plus, if you enjoy wine tasting (or just drinking wine to be honest), then you’re in for a treat!
The currency in Italy is the euro, so if you fancy travelling around the area a little – maybe to nearby Lisbon, or a little further north to Vienna – then you’re in luck, as most countries in Europe use this coin. And unsurprisingly, the main language spoken here is Italian. You can get by in English – particularly as Florence is becoming more and more popular with non-European tourists – but we highly recommend that you make an effort to learn a few phrases! It is considered polite here to make the effort to speak the language!
Where to go
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Unlike most of our recommendations for honeymoon destinations, Florence is not a capital city – this means that whilst there is plenty to see and do, you will not have to design a schedule to ensure you don’t miss anything. For a true mix of sightseeing and relaxing, Florence is the place. However, there are some obvious places that you should make the effort to visit whilst there, even if you would prefer to spend your honeymoon doing next to nothing…
First off, and most obviously, the Duomo is unmissable. A staggeringly large building that took 140 years to complete, the Duomo is perhaps the most beautiful cathedral in the world, built in the Gothic style and with huge stone arches. The best thing to experience whilst here is the climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s Cupola – a vantage point which gives you an awesome view across all of Florence and beyond. Be warned – there are 463 steep, narrow steps, but it is worth the climb!
Beyond the Duomo and the many religious buildings within the city’s limits – including the Santa Croce and the San Lorenzo Basilica (which houses the crypt of the infamous Florentine family, the Medicis – yes the ones from the Netflix series!) – there are many more things to see. With a different art gallery on every corner, there are gems from the history of art to be seen here, including Michaelangelo’s ‘David‘, Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus‘ and da Vinci’s ‘Annunciation‘.
And if all of this still hasn’t tickled your fancy, then there is of course more to be explored in Florence. Visit the San Lorenzo outdoor market to browse fine Italian leather goods, check out the Antique Market for that perfect piece for your first home together back in the States, and why not take a trip to the Parco delle Cascine for a picnic and view of the glimmering Arno river?
Well connected to the surrounding region, you don’t have to spend your entire honeymoon in the Florentine city center. Indeed, we would recommend that you check out some of the following places to add that extra bit of magic to your first trip as newlyweds…
Located around two hours away from Florence via train, Cinque Terre is a little far out, but wow it’s worth a visit! A town that has graced a million postcards, Cinque Terre is a unique corner of the planet, its brightly-painted and multicolored buildings providing an incredible view. Conveniently located on the coast to give you a space to relax and take a dip in the sea, this is unmissable!
This beautiful medieval town is just over an hour from the centre of Florence, and the perfect place for a day-tour. Similar to Florence – in that it is full to bursting with historic monuments and cool galleries – Siena also benefits from being home to an ‘historic centre’ that has become of one Italy’s most-visited sites. Also, keep an eye out on the timetable for the Palio di Siena – a bi-annual horse race (think F1 but on horseback) – and try to book your honeymoon for when it is on for a unique experience!
Need we spend time explaining why you should visit Pisa? If you’re really not in it for the tourist-traps then you can get away with missing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but if you are going to the effort of taking a 9 hour flight to Italy, then you really should see it. This might also be the ideal place to fly in to, even if you are staying in Florence, as the connection to the city is easy, and it is cheaper to land here!
… The Chianti Wine Region
And to top off our list of recommendations for the best nearby places, you guessed it, it’s wine country. Here you will be able to get a flavor of some of this country’s most exquisite wines, with daily tours available from a multitude of sources (which also means competitive prices!). Take some time out from the bustle of the busy Florentine center, and experience a relaxing afternoon in the countryside, with views like no other – and wine that you can only find in this quaint corner of the world.
What to eat
Again, it is worth us explaining to you the joys of Italian food? A staple of global cuisine, you will find every element of the traditional Italian menu in Florence – and recipes that you have never heard of, or never imagined too! Florence has every pizza, pasta and gelato dish you could hope to find, in an incredible authentic setting. There is absolutely no excuse for eating a bad meal here – the options are limitless, with restaurants and cafés on every corner for your perusal.
Aside from eateries, you can also explore a whole new world of food at the famous both the Sant’Ambrogio Market, or the Mercato Centrale Firenze in the city centre. Both of these spaces are huge – and from floor to ceiling full with ripe fruits, fish dishes, fresh meats, wines aplenty and stalls where you can try some of these incredible foods. Nowhere in the world can ever truly replicate the essence of an Italian meal, or live up to its true taste – and here you can experience the ingredients in their purest form.
One particular dish that we would recommend you try is a Lampredotto sandwich. Florence’s first “street food“, a Lampredotto sandwich is made from cow’s stomach – okay, so we’re not selling it here, but we’re being honest! – and seasoned with herbs and salsa verde, before being served in a freshly-baked white roll. You might not love the sound of it, but it’s worth a go!
Where to stay
As in most big cities, you’ll never be short on somewhere to stay on your honeymoon in Florence. There are nearly 3,000 Airbnbs in the region of Florence, so if you want to save money for all that food and wine, you’ll find somewhere with relative ease. However, if you’re looking to splash out across the board on your exclusive honeymoon in Italy, then we have two recommendations for you below…
The Ville sull’Arno is fantastically located in Florence, mere metres from the Arno River, and with a startlingly good view as a result. The price of a fortnight stay here may knock you back a little, but this is a rare oasis of tranquility, despite being so central. With luxurious rooms that boast such features as marble bathtubs and original stone fireplaces, you’ll be in heaven here!
However, if you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime venue for your honeymoon, then you can’t do much better than the Grand Hotel Cavour. Yes, that it is indeed the view that you will have if you choose to stay here. If you’re not impressed, then there’s nothing we can do for you here! Have the real Italian experience with this hotel, and a view that is completely unforgettable.
To round up
Florence is a curious mix. It is at once a busy metropolitan city, but located within the expanse of hundreds of miles of lush vegetation and open space. If you choose this incredible Italian city for your honeymoon, we can promise you that you won’t be disappointed with your time there – fabulous culture, fascinating history, and some truly romantic locations… Florence has it all!
And if you’re not convinced, you may prefer one of our other destinations: