What is Florence Known For: Top 19 Best Things

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If you are planning an upcoming trip to Italy, you may be wondering, what is Florence known for? Milan is famous for its high fashion, Rome is known as the home of the Vatican and Colosseum, and Venice for its beautiful canals filled with picturesque gondolas.

Italy offers so many unique destinations to visit. Millions of people travel to Florence every year, but what makes the city of Florence so special?

In this post, you will discover the top 19 best things Florence is known for and why Florence is worth visiting.

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What is Florence Known For?

Florence is known for its stunning architecture, beautiful art and museums, delicious food and wine, and fascinating history. Florence also referred to as Firenze, is a city in central Italy that is known as an art and cultural hub.

beautiful view overlooking Florence, Italy

There is so much for you to do and see in this magical city. You can explore iconic landmarks such as the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Uffizi Gallery, as well as lesser-known spots like the Boboli Gardens or the San Lorenzo market.

Or wander the streets of Florence and soak up the ambiance of this quintessential Italian city. Its winding streets are lined with cafes, gelaterias, and shops selling everything from leather goods to popular luxury brands.

Top 19 Things Florence is Best Known For

1. Birthplace of the Renaissance

Florence is well known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, a cultural movement that began in Italy in the 14th century. The Italian Renaissance made a huge impact on the arts, literature, science, and philosophy.

The Uffizi Gallery

Some of the most famous artists of the Renaissance period were based in Florence, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo Galilei.

Today, you can explore the city’s museums and churches, which were heavily influenced by the Renaissance, from the stunning works of art in the Uffizi Gallery to the iconic Duomo.

2. Bistecca Alla Fiorentina (Florentine-Style Steak)

If you are a meat eater and enjoy a mouth-watering steak, you cannot visit Florence, Italy, without trying their famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina. It is an authentic Tuscan dish and probably the one that Florence is most known for.

Florence is most known for Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Be prepared, the Florentine-style steak is a thickly cut and massive T-bone steak. What makes the Bistecca alla Fiorentina so delicious and flavorful is the breed of cattle and the specific cut of meat. The meat is also aged for at least two weeks.

The ingredients to the Bistecca alla Fiorentina are very simple. The steak is seasoned with just a little salt and pepper and then grilled on charcoal, for a nice browning on the outside & rare on the inside.

3. The Iconic Duomo

The Duomo in Florence, Italy, is a magnificent example of Renaissance architecture. It is also one of the most famous landmarks in the city. Officially known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, this cathedral was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries.

views of florence from the top of the Duomo
Views of Florence from the top of the Duomo

Its most striking and familiar feature is the dome, which spans over an impressive 140 feet. You can tour the interior of the Duomo and climb to the top for panoramic views of Florence.

Trust me, those 463 steps to the top are worth it! The views from the top are stunning and a bucket list experience.

We did the climb of the Duomo, and a big tip would be to book your tour in advance. There was a massive line leading up to the Duomo when we were there. This is why I also highly suggest booking a skip the line ticket to avoid wasting time and waiting in long lines.

Skip-the-Line Florence Duomo with Brunelleschi’s Dome Climb

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW

You can book a skip the line Florence Duomo with Brunelleschi’s Dome Climb here

4. The Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art museums in Italy, located in the heart of Florence. It is home to an incredible collection of paintings and sculptures from some of the most renowned artists of the Renaissance, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, and Caravaggio.

Some of the museum’s most famous works include Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera,” as well as Michelangelo’s “Tondo Doni.”

The Uffizi Gallery is a must-visit for anyone interested in art and history. You can visit the world-famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence with a skip the line guided tour.

Uffizi Gallery Small Group Tour with Guide

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW

Our guide was fabulous and so knowledgeable! Incredible information, and things you just don’t learn anywhere else. Selfishly, being able to “walk right in” without the typical 1-2 hour wait was wonderful just by itself, but having a personal teacher provide the nuances and details was wonderful, especially being able to ask her questions along the way! Great way to see an incredible museum!” – Larry E. (read more reviews)

You can book the Uffizi Gallery Small Group Tour with Guide here

5. Exquisite Wine

If you are a wine lover, like myself, you will be blown away by the depth and variety of Italian wine. As someone who frequently visits Napa Valley, the wine in Italy hits differently.

Florence is situated outside of the Tuscan countryside, one of the most famous wine regions in the world. Tuscany is home to several prestigious wineries that produce exceptional Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines.

florence is known for its Exquisite Wine

Florence is also known for its unique wine bars or “enotecas,” you can sample a variety of local wines paired with delicious Tuscan cuisine.

A tip we learned from a local when trying to buy a good bottle of wine in Italy is to look for the Black Rooster label. There are certain regulations that have to be followed by putting this label on the bottle.

6. Centuries-Old Wine Windows

Something really cool and unique we did in Florence was search for the centuries-old wine windows that are hidden throughout the city.

The wine windows, also known as “buchette del vino” in Italian, are small windows in the walls of buildings that were once used to sell wine directly to customers on the street during the epidemic of 1630-1633.

wine windows in florence italy
The wine window at Babae

Today, many of the wine windows in Florence have been restored, and some are still in use, providing a unique way to experience the city’s rich wine culture. You can find wine windows scattered throughout Florence’s historic center, by looking for the Buchette del vino sign.

We visited the wine window at Babae. You order your wine by pushing open the door, ring the bell for service, order your wine (either white or red), and enjoy!

7. Michelangelo’s Original David Statue

The statue of David remains one of the most famous and celebrated works of art produced during the Renaissance. The epic marble sculpture was created by the Florentine sculptor Michelangelo between 1501 to 1504 in Florence.

You can visit the original statue at the Galleria dell’Accademia, an art museum in the city. The museum also has other pieces by Michelangelo and a large collection of beautiful paintings. Get skip-the-line access to the Accademia Gallery with this small group tour.

Accademia Gallery Tour with Michelangelo’s David

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW

You can book a skip the line Accademia Gallery Tour with Michelangelo’s David here

8. Gelato Was Created in Florence

Gelato is a must try when visiting Florence, Italy! Full disclosure, when we were there, we got gelato every day and even hired a gelato cart to come to our wedding in Tuscany. It is the perfect treat on a hot summer day or a sweet finish after a delicious meal.

Florence is the birthplace of gelato, so as you can imagine, there are countless gelaterias throughout the city. Each gelateria has its own unique flavor combinations and techniques.

Some of the most popular flavors include pistachio, chocolate, hazelnut, and stracciatella (vanilla and chocolate chip).

9. The Historic Ponte Vecchio Bridge

The Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge” in Italian, is an iconic landmark in Florence, Italy. The medieval stone bridge crosses over the Arno River and is lined with shops selling everything from jewelry to souvenirs.

The bridge was built in 1345 and it is popular for its unique design, which includes three arches and a series of shops built along its edges.

Views of the Ponte Vecchio bridge

It is also known as the only bridge that was not destroyed by the retreating during World War II. Rumor has it, Hitler loved the bridge so much that he instructed to not destroy it.

You can admire the beauty of the Ponte Vecchio from afar. Or you can stroll across the bridge and take in the breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding city, or explore the shops and discover unique souvenirs to take home.

10. The Capital of Tuscany

Florence is located in central Italy and is the capital of Tuscany. It is the most populous and famous city in the region. In 2021, domestic tourists in Florence totaled nearly 5.4 million.

11. House of Medici

Florence is also known for the legacy of the House of Medici, which were the most influential and powerful families in Florence, Italy, from the 15th to the 18th century.

The Medici family played a significant role in the Renaissance, promoting and supporting many of the greatest artists of the time, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli.

The family’s wealth and influence can still be seen in the many architectural and artistic treasures they commissioned throughout the city, including the Medici Palace, the Boboli Gardens, and the Uffizi Gallery.

12. Leather Industry

Florence is known around the world for its rich history in the leather industry, dating back to the 14th century. The city’s geographical location next to the Arno River and access to raw materials made it an ideal location for leather production.

leather products at the San Lorenzo Market
San Lorenzo Market

Today, Florence is still renowned for its high-quality leather goods, such as bags, shoes, jackets, and belts. You can shop for leather items at stores near the city’s historical center or at the San Lorenzo Market.

Twice a year Florence also hosts an annual leather fair, Pitti Uomo, which attracts buyers and designers from all over the world.

13. The San Lorenzo Market

The San Lorenzo Market is a famous outdoor market located in the heart of Florence, Italy. The market has been around since the late 1800s and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

The market is divided into two sections: the Central Market, which offers a wide variety of fresh food products such as meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and seafood; and the outdoor market, which features a wide range of leather goods, souvenirs, clothing, and accessories.

tagliere and an Aperol spritz atthe central market

The Central Market is known for its bustling atmosphere and colorful displays. It is a fun place to sample the local Tuscan cuisine and purchase fresh ingredients for cooking or some snacks for later. We decided to grab lunch here at one of the small restaurants for tagliere and an Aperol spritz.

The outdoor market, San Lorenzo Market, is famous for its leather goods and souvenirs, including belts, wallets, purses, and jackets. You can also find a variety of other items such as clothing, jewelry, and art. The market is a great place to find unique gifts and souvenirs to take back home.

14. Gucci Originated in Florence

Florence is also known as the birthplace of the luxury fashion brand Gucci. The brand was founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, a Florentine businessman who started the business as a small leather goods store.

Gucci is one of the most recognized and respected fashion brands in the world, known for its high-quality products and innovative designs. There are several stores in Florence, including its flagship store on Via de’ Tornabuoni, which offers a wide range of products, from handbags and clothing to shoes and accessories.

15. Fashion & Shopping

Besides Gucci, Florence is also well known for its fashion and shopping scene. I did not know this before visiting and was so bummed that we didn’t have a ton of extra room in our suitcase for me to do some serious shopping. However, I did manage to come home with a new jacket, scarf, and two dresses.

If you are looking for luxury brands and top names in Italian fashion, you can find them at Via de’ Tornabuoni, the fashion center of the city. Some of the upscale stores include Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Fendi, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, and many many more.

The city also hosts the bi-annual Pitti Immagine fashion fair, which is a major event in the fashion world. 

16. The Panoramic Views at Piazzale Michelangelo

The Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the most popular and well known views in Florence, Italy. This beautiful square is situated on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River and offers panoramic views of the city.

The well known view in Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo

If you can, I recommend getting to this famous vista on foot. It requires you to walk up a steep hill and stairs, which will definitely get your heart pumping.

But there is a little halfway point at the Rose Garden where you can grab an espresso and enjoy the view from one of the tables. If you prefer not to walk, you can also take a bus or taxi to the Piazzale Michelangelo.

The Piazzale Michelangelo is especially enchanting at sunset when the sun casts a warm glow over the city, and the lights of Florence begin to twinkle in the evening sky. However, it is very popular to come here at sunset, and honestly, at any time of the day, you are going to get spectacular views.

17. The Start & Purest Form of the Italian Language

Florence is widely recognized as the birthplace of the standard Italian language. The main reason for this is Florence was the hub of intellectual and cultural activity, during the Renaissance period.  

The dialect was made popular by many famous writers like Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio who were living and working in Florence. The dialect spoken in Florence became the standard and today is considered by many to be the purest form of Italian.

18. The Piano was Invented in Florence

The modern piano, an instrument that has had a profound impact on music and culture, was invented in Florence, Italy, in the early 18th century by Bartolomeo Cristofori.

Florence is known as the birthplace of the piano

Today, visitors to Florence can see some of Cristofori’s original pianos at the Museum of Musical Instruments in the Palazzo Pitti, providing a fascinating glimpse into the rich musical heritage of the city.

19. The Beginning of the Opera

Opera, a popular form of musical theater was created in Florence, Italy, in the late 16th century. The first opera, called “Dafne,” was composed by Jacopo Peri and premiered in Florence in 1598.

It quickly became a sensation throughout Italy and Europe. Over the centuries, opera continued to evolve and grow, with many of the greatest composers.

Frequently Asked Questions: What is Florence Known For

What is Florence Known for Food

One of my favorite parts about visiting a new city is trying all of the different food the destination is known for. The food Florence is most commonly known for is its Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a thick and juicy T-bone steak, seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Florence’s cuisine is characterized by simple, high-quality ingredients and rustic, traditional dishes that reflect the city’s agricultural heritage.

Other Popular and Delicious Dishes for You to Try in Florence Include

  • Ribollita: A hearty vegetable soup made with bread, beans, and vegetables, and often topped with a drizzle of olive oil. It is typically served in the colder months and is a staple of Tuscan cuisine.
  • Pappa al Pomodoro: A cold soup made with tomatoes, bread, garlic, and basil
  • Lampredotto: A sandwich made with the fourth stomach of a cow, which is stewed in broth and served in a bun with a spicy green sauce
  • Cantucci: Crispy almond cookies that are often served with Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine from Tuscany.
  • Truffles: A type of edible mushroom that grows in the Tuscan countryside. Truffles are often used to flavor dishes such as pasta, risotto, and eggs.

What is Florence Known for Shopping

Many people may not know this before visiting, but Florence is also known for its shopping. The city is home to a unique and diverse array of shopping options, from luxury designer boutiques to local artisanal shops.

You can visit the shops along the historic Ponte Vecchio, The Mercato Centrale for a bustling indoor market, or for high-end fashion, the Via de’ Tornabuoni. Also, Florence is also renowned for its leather products, including everything from bags, jackets, wallets, and more.

What is Florence Most Famous For

Florence is famously known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, with its stunning architecture, world-renowned art museums, rich history, and iconic cultural landmarks. It is a vibrant and thriving city that is a must visit destination in Italy.

What is Unique About Florence

What makes Florence unique is how so many things have originated in Florence centuries ago that we still use and enjoy today. Florence offers a unique blend of history, art, architecture, culture, cuisine, and fashion.

The Duomo in Florence Italy

It is the birthplace of the piano, opera, gelato, the Gucci fashion brand, several famous historical figures, the Italian language, architectural marvels, some of the most famous works of art in the world, and many more.

In Conclusion: What is Florence Known For

Florence is known for so many incredible things! I hope you have enjoyed this post on what is Florence known for and it has helped in planning your vacation to this beautiful and one of a kind city.

As you are planning your epic vacation to Italy, I have some more helpful guides for your trip!

Once you touch down in Florence here is the ultimate guide on exactly how to get around the city, if there is Uber in Florence, and tips I wish I knew before our visit.

Are you planning a road trip through Tuscany? There are a couple of essential tips that you need to know first before hopping into your rental car.

the Saturnia hot springs in Tuscany

A must visit location in the hills of southern Tuscany are the Saturnia Hot Springs, a set of sulfurous thermal springs. The famous waterfalls are a popular site for tourists and locals alike throughout the year.