Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, an open-air museum, so full of attractions that a few days are certainly not enough to see them. So here is what you absolutely cannot neglect to see and do during a short stay.
1 Piazza del Duomo
It’s a large open air museum including Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Dome of Brunelleschi, the Giotto Bell Tower, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Museum of Opera del Duomo.
All these monuments can be visited by buying one single ticket. It’s really the first thing to do in Florence, expecially sice the ticket allows a good flexibility: “If you havent’t seen Piazza del Duomo, you have not seen Florence!”.
The Duomo façade illuminates the square by its white and green marbles in contrast with the Brunelleschi Dome which shows the bright red of the tiles, the same colour that you can admire observing the city roofs panorama from the heights of the Dome. Santa Maria del Fiore is the third largest cathedral in the world, preceded by St. Peter basilica in Rome and St. Paul in London. Designed in the middle of 1300, the Duomo rises 15 meters above Giott’s Bell Tower, built in 1334 and 85 meters high.
2 Ponte Vecchio
An iconic place, one of the most famous bridges in the world and certainly one of the most beautiful. It was the only one in the city to be spared by the retreating German troops at the end of the Second World War.
Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge allowing the passage over the waters of Arno where the river narrows. It connects the historic center of the city with the easter zone. Some special features of the bridge are the artisan workshops -once butchers, nowadays refined goldsmiths’ shops- which flanks the street but stop at its centre to make room for two large panoramic terraces.
The east part of the bridge is surmounted by the Vasari Corridor built in 1565, it allowed the Medici family to return to their residencial home in Palazzo Pitti from the administrative offices in Piazza della Signoria without touching the ground.
3 Piazza della Signoria and Loggia dei Lanzi
Another famous square in Florence whose central element is the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, 14th century, the seat of the civil and administrative power in the city. The ancient marble or sandstone sculptures dominate the view, such as the one named Donatello’s Marzocco, the mighty lion resting on the emblem with the Florentine lily; or the Neptune’s Fountain, the first public one in the city.
Inside the Palazzo Vecchio Museum you can admire the stunning paintings of the Salone dei Cinquecento, the maps of the Sala delle Carte Geografiche, passing through the Chapel of the Duchess Eleonora di Toledo and the Auditorium.
Moving towards the Uffizi Gallery, you can shelter yourself under the Loggia dei Lanzi. Buil at the end of the 14th century, it housed the ancient public assemblies. Today, you can admire many marble sculptures and the famous Perseus, a bronze masterpiece by Benvenuto Cellini dating 1554.
4 The Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery – whose name derives from the ancient “offices” of the city administrative apparatus – collects works from the private collection of the Medici family. It is one of the most famous and visited museums in the world, open to the public since 1591! The external structure shows a spectacular arcade that connects Piazza della Signoria with the lungarni, and offers a scenographic shot of the tower of Palazzo Vecchio . The Doric columns alternate niches with statues of artists and patrons of the time, including Giotto and Cosimo de ‘Medici. Inside there are works of inestimable value, such as the fifteenth century paintings byBotticelli such as Spring and the Birth of Venus . There are also the masterpieces of Cimabue , Giotto , Leonardo , Michelangelo , Caravaggio , Tiziano , Goya … in an endless list that traces Italian art and not only from the early Middle Ages until the eighteenth century! The queue is long, it’s better to buy the ticket online in advance.
5 The Boboli Gardens
Private park of the Medici’s Palazzo Pitti residence, the Boboli Gardens connect the famous palace with Forte Belvedere. They are an excellent example of an Italian garden, 45,000 square meters wide, the park houses statues, various residences and museums, and has an architectural-landscape structure that makes it unique in the world. The park develops in two main axes , cut by transversal avenues: the first axis, starting from Palazzo Pitti, climbs rapidly on the hill through a deep horseshoe-shaped amphitheater; the second axis is the well-known Viottolone flanked by two long rows of cypresses interspersed with statues. The garden also includes the Silver Museum , the Costume Gallery and the Porcelain Museum.
6 The Museo dell’Accademia
It’s one of the most loved and visited museums. Here was placed the original marble statue of Michelangelo’s David. A copy of the work is located in front of Palazzo Vecchio, another one at Piazzale Michelangelo, but seeing the original is all but one thing! The gallery also hosts priceless masterpieces made by great artists such as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pontorno and others. If you want to enter and visit, the queue is usually long, so it’s better to book your ticket in advance.
7 The San Lorenzo Church and Cappelle Medicee
In Piazza San Lorenzo, you can make a short visit to the Church of San Lorenzo and to the majestic Medici Chapels, where the members of the noble family were buried and where you will find a beautiful marble statue of Michelangelo, located in the New Sacristy
The stalls of the popular and characteristic San Lorenzo Market surround the church, they are an extension of the Central Market, a perfect combination of art, shopping and good food.
8 Piazzale Michelangelo
It’s the most famous panoramic observation point of the city, a must for tourists and residents. The square and the loggia (now an exclusive restaurant) were designed by the architect Giuseppe Poggi in the context of a wider project of renovation of the city begun in the second half of the 19th century. The view is really enchanting and sweeps over the entire historical centre of the city to the opposite hills of Fiesole and Settignano
9 Florence with the children
Between museums, streets and squares it is easy for children to get bored and tired, so you have to think about something to make them a pleasant holiday in Florence. One idea is take a stroll on a horse-drawn wheelchair, or you can turn the climb to the Dome of Brunelleschi (463 steps) in a kind of race, or play hide-and-seek (with all the caution of the case) in the Gardens of Boboli. For years, interactive and theatre workshops, and visits specifically aimed at entertaining schools and families with children have been included in Palazzo Vecchio.
10 Typical food in Florence
The Cantuccini biscuits, the tomato soup, the ribollita soup and the lampredotto, a sandwich filled with tripe, a very popular street food. Without forgetting, of course, the Fiorentina steak made with the famous Chianina meat. In short, in Florence everyone is fine: vegetarians and carnivores, not to mention enthusiastic Chianti drinkers. Over time, however, in a way similar to other touristic cities, Florence has ended up being a prisoner of its culinary tradition. There are those who even put the city in the top list of cities considered as major gastronomic disappointments. Therefore, you must be very careful with the so-called “tourist traps”, those restaurants that speculate on the typical florentine food offering by contrast mediocre products when not cheap.