Battistero di San Giovanni, seen here from the Duomo, is one of the oldest buildings in Florence, dating to 1128 when Italian poet Dante was baptized in it. Its octagonal shape is a reference to the early Christian tradition that Christ will arise on the eighth day.
Neighborhood Spotlight

Florence's Duomo neighborhood: like waking up inside a Renaissance painting

Photo by Stephan Stockinger

Neighborhood Spotlight Florence's Duomo neighborhood: like waking up inside a Renaissance painting

The area that surrounds Florence's magnificent Duomo is unsurprisingly the busiest in the city, but to stay here undoubtedly makes for an unforgettable experience.

James Hiam
James Hiam Editor

Besides, you don't choose to stay right in the middle of Florence because you want to enjoy some peace and quiet. You choose to stay in the middle of Florence and close to the Duomo because you want to wake up within a stone's throw of one of the world's most impressive and justifiably famous cathedrals. Filippo Brunelleschi's enormous dome dominates the city's skyline, and, along with the cathedral's multicolored facade, is just as impressive up close.

The area to the south of the Duomo is a combination of winding alleyways and streets, interspersed with the odd jewelry shop, small art gallery and pretty square. Piazza della Repubblica, once the site of the city's forum during Roman times, is the most well-known of these, popular with locals and visitors alike for its literary cafes, street artists and a nostalgia-inducing carousel. In addition to there being plenty of hotels to choose from in and around the Duomo, another benefit to staying here is that the rest of the city's neighborhoods are only ever a short stroll away. You're in the middle of everything, and Florence is a compact city: walk for 10 minutes in pretty much any direction and you'll quickly find yourself in the likes of Santa Croce and San Marco.

Best places to stay

Unsurprisingly, Florence’s Duomo area has a wide range of hotels to choose from, many of them high-end. The classic Brunelleschi guarantees you unforgettable city views – it’s as if you wake up inside a renaissance painting. Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, an old Renaissance palace with a classy garden terrace, is a more wallet-friendly alternative.

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A 19th century statue of the Madonna with child by Tito Sarocchi stands over the main door of the Duomo. She is flanked by the Apostles St. Peter and St. John and holds a flowered scepter, reflecting the name of the cathedral. Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/750
ISO
200
Focal
210 mm

A 19th century statue of the Madonna with child by Tito Sarocchi stands over the main door of the Duomo. She is flanked by the Apostles St. Peter and St. John and holds a flowered scepter, reflecting the name of the cathedral.

Other stories about Florence

Tourism may be a mainstay of Florence’s economy but it also has a thriving industrial sector based on its history of craftsmanship. Italy’s fashion industry relies on the city for the production of goods such as leather, including shoes, as well as jewelry, embroidery, textiles, ceramics and metalwork.

Peek over the walls and you'll see the real Florence

“Rome is a whore,” says Giambaccio, a ploud Florence native. It has just gone midnight, and we have wandered through the moonstruck streets around Florence’s Piazza San Spirito for hours before winding up here: in a haphazardly cluttered art studio Giambaccio has modeled on a ship’s deck. “She opens her legs for everybody. But Florence...” He mimes chastity – the shutting of two knees – with his fingers. “We are a walled city. We are closed.”