In the beautiful Piazza della Signoria of Florence stands the Palazzo Vecchio, which is nowadays the town hall of the city – but it is much more than that. In the long history of the palace, it has been the residence of the Medici as well as the seat of the Republic of Florence, and it has carried many names along the way: It was the Palazzo del Popolo, the Palazzo dei Priori and the Palazzo Ducale. It gained its current name when the Medici residence moved to the Palazzo Pitti, located across the river – and, in fact, the Vassari Corridor, which goes also above the Ponte Vecchio, communicates the two palaces.
The Palazzo Vecchio was built in the late 13th century, and it was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, the same architect of the Florence Cathedral and the Santa Croce Church. You will recognise it for its cubical shape made of stone, as well as for its iconic clock tower.
The Palazzo Vecchio is located in one of the historical neighbourhoods of Florence, Santa Croce, which means that you will be at walking distance from almost all the historical landmarks and tourist attractions of the city. You will be surrounded mostly by other tourists like yourself, since the locals try to live outside the tourist centre – it’s always so crowded that you can easily see how it could get a bit uncomfortable! Nonetheless, there are still some Florentines who live in the area, mostly young students and professionals, as well as expats who have moved into the beautiful Tuscan capital for a little while.
The apartments near the Palazzo Vecchio are surrounded by all kinds of shops! The city centre is full of haute-couture and high-quality shops where you can buy anything at all. Milan gets all the fame in terms of fashion, but all the major Italian and international brands have a shop in the streets around the Palazzo Vecchio. The main shopping streets are the ones between this palace and the Florence Cathedral: Via del Calzaiuoli, Via Calimala and Via Roma are some of them. You will find shops such as Zara, Michael Kors, Prada, Gucci, Valentino or Emporio Armani. Besides, in Via Calzaiuoli you will also find a Disney Store, so your kids can do some shopping as well!
Did you know that Florence doesn’t have metro? That’s right! It does have train, but it doesn’t pass through the city centre, so the locals usually prefer to move by bus. However, if you’re staying in the apartments near the Palazzo Vecchio, you will be at walking distance from many tourist attractions. Florence is a small city, and cars are not allowed in some streets of the city centre. Walking will allow you to pay attention to the detail and to not miss any of the beautiful postcard views you will find in the city.
However, if you want to move a little faster and, at the same time, do a fun activity with your kids, you can always rent a bike! There are many bike rental shops around the city – in fact, many locals decide to move by bike instead of bus. But be careful not to run over anybody! The city is always very crowded, so you will have to be careful.
If you stay near the Palazzo Vecchio, the main thing you will want to visit is the palace itself! Even though it isn’t one of the most visited monuments (it has the Uffizi Gallery right next to it, which is quite the competition!), it is well worth a visit. A tour guide will explain the history behind the majestic rooms that you will see, and you will be able to learn a lot about the history of Florence. Opening hours are quite tight, so make sure to check it in advance so you don’t end up having to miss it. You can also visit the Vassarian Corridor, but you will have to book with a lot of time in advance, since the visits are quite restricted.
After the Palazzo Vecchio, you can see the Loggia dei Lanzi and then visit the Uffizi Gallery, one of the richest and most wonderful art collections in the world. To arrive there, you will have to walk along the Piazzale degli Uffizi. After that, you can walk along the river until the Ponte Vecchio, the most romantic icon of Florence.
Are you ready to try the delicious Tuscan cuisine? Focaccias, pizzas, pasta, meats… And wine! One of the things that usually excites the most whoever visits Florence is sitting in a restaurant to enjoy all that deliciousness. Around the apartments near the Palazzo Vecchio you will find a ton of options, but keep in mind that it is a tourist area and it will be easy to fall into a tourist trap. Always check the menu before sitting, so you don’t end up in an overpriced place – wouldn’t it be a pity to miss out on the opportunity to try one of the wonderful little places and trattorias in Florence?
Luckily, we have a few recommendations for you that are close to the Palazzo Vecchio. The Vini e Vecchi Sapori, the Trattoria Alfredo and the Antico Fattore will surely leave an impression on your palate and your belly.
And if you want something quick that you can eat in one of the plazas or as you walk around the city, we recommend the All'Antico Vinaio, where you will be able to choose from many different kinds of focaccias. Enjoy!
Florence is a very lively city, which means that you will have many possible entertainments once the sun has disappeared. The plazas are usually very lively, full of people and even street musicians, so we recommend you to have aperitivo or another drink, even coffee, in one of the terraces of the Piazza della Signoria or the Piazza de Salterelli. After that, you can go have a drink or a cocktail to Rivoire or Chiaroscuro.
If you’re in the mood to go dancing, you can do so at the Yab Glamour Club, and elegant nightclub where you can also have dinner before hitting the dance floor. You can also go to Tabasco, an underground gay club that will guarantee a fun night, and the club Full Up, to move to the rhythm of electronic music until closing time.