Florence (in Italian Firenze), the old capital of Tuscany, called”La Bella” and the provincial capital, is a scenic, hilltop university town nestled in the Appennines which has taken up residence less or more picturesquely on each side of the Arno River. The cradle of the Renaissance in Italy, it’s above all of the portrait of a country of great cultural and artistic riches that has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Explorers from all around the world are unanimous: seeing Florence is a cure. And for a good reason, the city boasts several Italy’s greatest museums, magnificent cathedrals, and churches, in addition to authentic streets and squares adorned with elegant buildings. Quite simply among the most charming cities in Italy. A romantic, cultural, artistic destination… Firenze is an enchanting city in the nation and is therefore simply a superb choice to discover the collectible stone throughout a weekend or even a stay.
However, what to do in Florence? What are the best things to see? Discover the must-sees of the treasured city.
1- The Duomo of Florence (Duomo — Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore)
The most popular site to see in Florence is its Duomo (cathedral), the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The building of the massive Gothic cathedral began in 1296, was dedicated in 1436, and now can accommodate up to 20,000 individuals.
Its exterior, made from green, white and pink marble, has several fancy doors and sculptures worth viewing. Indoors, Brunelleschi’s dome is a genuine masterpiece. Entrance to the cathedral is free, but take a ticket to climb the 463 steps to the top (11 bucks ): the view is well worth it. This ticket will also let you climb the Campanile de Giotto tower, enter the Baptistery of St. John and the crypt of Santa Reparata.
2 – Palazzo Vecchio
It’s around the most famous square in Florence that your initial discoveries begin. The heart of the historic center, a true artistic scene, and the political center of the city since the Middle Ages, the Piazza Della Signoria is home to some of the nuggets that are crucial to your trip, such as many sculptures (especially a replica of Michelangelo’s David). If the Loggia Della Signoria and its arcaded gallery are worth seeing, the Florence City Hall is essential for your strolls.
In medieval style, Palazzo Vecchio (or Palazzo Vecchio) was constructed in the late 13th/early 14th century to house the government offices of the (newly created) Florentine Republic. The architect that gave birth to Palazzo Vecchio was none other than Arnolfo di Cambio, who especially designed the Cathedral of Florence.
Now Palazzo Vecchio still includes the office of the Mayor of Florence and the City Council. But the majority of the building serves as a museum which you can visit. Within the Palazzo there are people rooms and richly decorated private flats.
3- Giotto’s Bell Tower
The Campanile de Giotto tower (bell tower) is in Piazza del Duomo. The first floor was designed by Giotto, hence his eponymous work. Initially, Giotto planned to increase the tower to 110-115 meters, but he died in 1337, leaving the job unfinished.
Finally built at the height of 85 meters, the famed tower affects. Decorated with taste, it’s an undeniable asset that makes it so popular. To discover it, begin by climbing the 414 steps of the monument. After the effort, the highlight of this series awaits you: an unobstructed view of the entire city of Florence and its surroundings, which is guaranteed to bring back amazing postcard memories.
4- The Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery)
The Galleria degli Uffizi has the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art, but it’s also the most visited museum in Italy.
Holding an artistic legacy considered one of the earliest and most famous in the world, the Uffizi Gallery promises to discover the most beautiful treasures of its history: tens of thousands of paintings from the Middle Ages into the modern era, many antique sculptures, illuminations, but also tapestries make it an exceptional location. In particular, you’ll have the ability to admire the works of renowned artists like Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino and Raphael. As you can see, the Uffizi Gallery preserves the gorgeous treasures of Florence…
5- Galleria dell’Accademia (Academy Gallery)
Michelangelo’s David, possibly the most famous sculpture globally, has taken up residence here alongside other sculptures by the artist. One of Michelangelo’s masterpieces, you’ll also find”Saint Matthew” and”The Prisoners.” You’ll also find an interesting selection of musical instruments initiated by the Medici family. Here again, the queues are long so you can enjoy the trip without being bothered by the nearly incessant crowds.
6- Santa Maria Novella
A couple of steps away is the Santa Maria Novella district. Famous for its colossal church of the same name, the area is known for its eponymous church, and the numerous cafés it hosts are best for strolling around and having a cappuccino break on the patio.
As you wander through the charming alleyways, find its main attraction, the Officina Profumo- Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Among the oldest pharmacies in the world, the Officina is an institution and for a good reason, the Queen of England is among its most loyal customers. Inside, you’ll discover a wide selection of natural and organic products that produce the pharmacy’s standing: lotions, cares, elixirs… There’s something for each profile!
7- Museum of San Marco
Situated in Piazza San Marco (not far from the Duomo), the Museo di San Marco was a Dominican convent at the time. Today open to the general public, it houses the largest collection of paintings by Fra Angelico, a renowned painter, and monk. All around and on the top floor of the cloister of St. Anthony, the hospice area, the large refectory, and even the cells of the dormitories welcome you to discover religious frescoes, which are currently considered authentic works of art.
8- Pitti Palace
In the Duomo or as you stroll through the historical center of Florence, remember to see Palazzo Pitti — Palazzo Pitti. Former residence of the Medici, the Palace is now a witness of the local heritage. House to 6 3 and museums bedrooms, it is one of the biggest museums in town.
One of the most popular visits, the Palatine Gallery, which it also homes, literally stands out in the crowd with its twenty or so exhibition rooms! Decorated with frescoes or trompe l’oeil, all of these possess a stunning collection of paintings, some of which should have been shown in the Uffizi Gallery but, because of lack of space, stayed in the Pitti Palace.
To pay a visit to Palazzo Pitti, make an array of the museums you would like to go to ahead and plan a long half-day to appreciate the area fully.
9- Boboli Garden
Located just behind Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Garden undeniably incorporates the wonders of Florence. Frequently compared to Versailles, the Boboli Garden provides a lush and luxurious interlude worthy of the best fairy tales. Porcelain Museum, Costumes Gallery, Great Cave, Kaffeehaus, Il Viottolone, and fountains and flowerbeds of roses and dahlias depict a place out of time sublimated by precious legacies.
As you’ll have known, it would be regrettable not to pass through the Garden throughout your visit to Florence. So as to get the most out of it, plan a half-day trip, the perfect time to prevent the crowds and enjoy the spectacle that stays in spring.
10- Ponte Vecchio
Built-in 1345, the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) was Florence’s first bridge across the Arno. It’s also the only one to have survived Florence’s medieval period (other bridges were destroyed during the Second World War).
As famous as the monuments that make Florence a town of such special attractiveness, the Ponte Vecchio is crossed through the Vasari Corridor, a secret passage built by Vasari for Duke Cosme I of Tuscany in 1565 linking Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti. From the bridge, you can also enjoy a terrific view of the Arno River and the surrounding countryside: the stop deserves some gorgeous shots. You may also find authentic shops close to the bridge. Here and there have been preserved stores selling gold and silver jewelry, typical of the region!
11- Giardino Bardini
Want to enjoy a gorgeous sunset in Florence? Head to the Giardino Bardini backyard. A standard Renaissance garden, the green atmosphere is also and above all prized for its belvedere.
If the Boboli Garden tends to color it, Giardino Bardani deserves a little time. Set in 4 hectares, the garden can be seen from Via dei Bardi or Costa San Giorgio and promises a magical stroll among roses, wisteria, irises, and other crops. Walk along the tiny paths which will lead you to the fountains and the canal prior to taking the central staircase to get to the surface of the garden. From that point, a breathtaking view of Florence guarantees you a superb panorama, all the more so in case you like the sunset…
12- Baptistery of St. John
Nicknamed”Gates of Paradise,” the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist is among the oldest buildings in Florence. Built in the 11th century at Piazza del Duomo, it arouses curiosity with its exterior made from white and green marble. Its three sets of amazing bronze doors (actually reproductions, the originals are at the Duomo Museum) are also worth watching. A costume as tasteful as it’s astonishing, which makes it the most visited monument in Piazza del Duomo (following the Duomo of course).
13- The Market of San Lorenzo
Even if you’re not fond of purchasing and wonder what to do in Florence besides its monuments, a stroll through the famous leather markets is well worth taking a couple of minutes of your time. The market close to the Basilica of San Lorenzo is fine: crossing it, then you come to the Mercato Centrale, a covered marketplace up in the core of a 19th-century building where you’ll discover countless food stalls.
If you wish to have a break for a tasting, it is also possible to take home a souvenir (cheese, olive oil, pasta…). If you fall under the charm of Florentine cuisine, why not opt for a gastronomic tour? Total of tastes, the tour promises you above all gorgeous culinary discoveries.
14- Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the most famous places to have a panoramic view of the entire city. It’s found in the Oltrarno district (left bank of the Arno river). The view from this vantage point overlooking the city is well known for its sunset, reproduced on postcards for several years!
To get there, you’ll need to walk through the little roads of the San Niccolò district. At the same time, you can take the chance to find Clet’s Studio at San Niccolò: Clet is a renowned French artist who has decided to set up his studio in Florence. A surprising trip, which will punctuate this gorgeous parenthesis at the direction of Piazzale Michelangelo.
15- Palazzo del Bargello (and its own museum)
Housed in a former prison, the Bargello Museum houses sudden works like the ancient works of Michelangelo (“Bacchus”) or the bronze statue of Donatello (“David”). While the bits in the Bargello’s collection are world-class, most tourists have overlooked the museum, which makes it an exceptional option for art fans tired of audiences! Overall, go for it, you won’t be disappointed with the trip.
You do not understand it; Italy frequently echoes the famous Italian ice cream. Here in Florence, gelato is known to be especially fantastic. There are various gelaterias in town, but beware of tourist traps: just a few are worth the trip. You can tell by the color of this gelato, or from the queue in front of the store. Grom, by way of instance, is among the best gelati in town.
17- The Medici chapels
Florence is recognized as the cradle of the Renaissance where many renowned artists were born and worked. And several of them were buried here. As stated previously, the Church of Santa Croce is home to many famous tombs.
But there’s still one family whose tombs are specially visited, the Medici family. Adjacent to the Basilica of San Lorenzo, three Medici chapels house the tombs of the household: the New Sacristy, the Chapel of the Princes, and the Chapel of the Treasure.
After seeing the Medici tombs, the Laurentian Library, situated above the cloisters at precisely the same church complex, is also worth visiting with its grand and gorgeous staircase designed by Michelangelo.