Fabulous February!

February in Florence continues the best-kept secret in this amazing city: The winter months can be truly fabulous! The weather is cool but not cold — the average temperature is around 54 degrees Fahrenheit — the museums are less crowded, and food is no less wonderful than other times of the year. And you can get a restaurant reservation almost any time!

Here are some ideas for exploring my wonderful home during February:

Celebrate Carnival: The big parade is over (it takes place in late January), but there are still events around the city, including the Florence Eye in Castile Park, where there is something going on every weekend.

Create Your Own “Outdoor Museum”: With all of its amazing architecture, Florence is considered to be an “outdoor museum,” and there is no better time to take a walking tour of icons of Florentine’s building artistry, including the The Florence Cathedral (The Duomo), the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, the Pitti Palace, Santa Croce, the Basilica of Santo Spirito, and the Boboli Gardens. The weather will be cooler for a walk, and there will be fewer crowds to block the view. Florence has several artistic monuments, including Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring, and The Birth of Venus.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day: Restaurants all through Florence will be laying out special menus for lovers on February 14th. On the way to dinner, watch the sun go down over Arno from the viewpoint of the Ponte Vecchio bridge, where in times past couple’s would hang “love locks” with their initials etched into the metal, and throw the key into the river. (Don’t try this yourself! The practice is harmful to the bridge’s structure and is now considered to be vandalism.)

Shop ‘Til You Drop: February is the best time of the year for shopping in Florence, as the fewer crowds spur multiple sales in shops throughout the city. In particular check out the artisanal shops in the Oltrarno, on the opposite side of the city. Take a tour with me to meet the artists!

Sip Hot Chocolate: Florence’s big chocolate festival isn’t until early March, but you can still get a comforting, delicious hot chocolate almost anywhere in the city. It will soothe your soul!

Take a Glide: If you are feeling athletic, check out the longest skating rink in Europe, in the Ice Village in the Fortezza da Basso Garden.

Enjoy the View: Florence is a city of walks, and there is no more spectacular view you’ll find than the Piazzale Michelangelo, which looks out over the entire city. It’s a steep set of stairs, which makes the cooler weather of February all the more welcome.

Visit Michelangelo’s Secret Room: A half-century after its discovery, a small area inside the Medici Chapel will be open through the end of March, which is where the artist Michelangelo hid for several months after the fall of the Florentine Republic. There are drawings all over the walls, which are attributed to the great artist and said to be related to various projects he had been working on. Visitors to the room are very limited so please contact me about availability if you are interested in touring the site.

Have fun in Florence in February!