Florence is one of those important cultural cities in Italy that attract crowds of visitors every year. There are plenty of sites in Florence that strike the imagination with amazing architecture and jaw-dropping inner decoration. Nowadays, the city of Florence is home to more than 380,000 inhabitants. The city is located in the central part of Italy and you can reach it from Pisa and Bologna by rail.
Florence was established during the Roman epoch as a city for veterans. It witnessed Ostrogoths and the Byzantine Empire. Florence was home to Medici, Machiavelli, Savonarola and other famous characters that played an important role in the history of Italy.
Nowadays, Florence welcomes tourists from all over and is considered to be the best place to visit. About 13 million visitors come to admire famous sites in Florence every year. If you are among those who want to travel to the city for the first time, find some useful information about it below.
1. Uffizi Gallery: Book Your Visit in Advance
Florence boasts a lot of art and cultural museums. Palazzo degli Ufizzi is one of the most famous and popular places that gathers crowds of tourists from various countries at any season. Initially used by Medicis, the palace holds a lot of artworks from various epochs.
The building appeared in 1580. It is located close to the Palazzo Vecchio, another key building of Florence with the function of HQ for the local administration. The art gallery of the palazzo includes such famous works as Birth of Venus by Boticelly, of the Holy Family by Michelangelo. There are plenty of other works that came out from under the brush of the best Italian artists.
2. Florence Cathedral: One of the Most Celebrated Cathedrals in Europe
When visiting most European cities, you will find a lot of cathedrals and other religious buildings from various centuries. However, Florence Cathedral is one of those jewels of the city and the whole Italy.
It was built in the XVth century, but its façade appeared in the XIXth century. The cathedral is situated in the very heart of Florence. The Duomo can be seen miles from its position. The site attracts attention by its outstanding monumental architecture and breathtaking decoration with attention to minor details.
3. Palazzo Vecchio
This governmental building was initiated in the XIVth century. Nowadays, Palazzo Vecchio is home to the city council. However, visitors are welcome to spend as much time there as they want as the place becomes a museum. After you take a tour inside Palazzo Vecchio of Florence, you can visit the famous clock tour to see the outskirts. The tower is 95 meters tall. By climbing it, you will be able to see the center of Florence from above and have one of the best views of the city.
The climb takes 400 steps, but you can stop at any moment and take a look at the city. Keep in mind that the tower is closed for visitors when the weather is rainy.
4. Santa Groce Basilica
Florence is famous for a great number of sacred places and Santa Groce Basilica is one of them. It boasts a beautiful façade that is decorated with marble polychrome panels, which come in contrast with polished stone. You can visit the Basilica itself or simply admire its façade from Piazza di Santa Groce. Keep in mind that once you get inside the church, you can find tombs of the most famous Florence inhabitants such as Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.
5. Ponte Vecchio: Famous Bridge in Florence
If you are looking for the best places to visit in Florence, Italy, then you should definitely go to Ponte Vecchio, this one of the oldest bridges in the city. While most bridges on Earth have only one purpose to connect two banks, Ponte Vecchio is not only a bridge, but also a place with a lot of shops, mostly jewelers.
The bridge was finished in 1345. It consists of three arches. In the center of the construction tourists will see a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a famous Italian artist, who’s career started there, on the Ponte Vecchio.
6. Piazza della Signoria
The city of Florence boasts a lot of beautiful places that appeared during the Renaissance period and even earlier. Piazza della Signoria is among the most popular locations in this part of Italy with a lot of things to admire. In particular, by going there, you will see the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio and the famous clock tower. Piazza della Signoria is also famous for the Neptune Fountain with the face of Cosimo Medici as the sea god. Piazza della Signoria boasts a lot of beautiful statues that underline the artistic nature of the city and its best representatives.
Loggia dei Lanzi is a sculpture gallery that visitors can see once they reach Piazza della Signoria. Most statues demonstrate ancient Greek myths. Therefore, if you are looking for the best place to admire Renaissance art, sculpture and feel the atmosphere of this period, you should definitely stay in Piazza della Signoria for some time.
7. Visit the Main Viewpoint of Florence
If you are looking for the best view of Florence, you should definitely visit Piazzale Michelangelo. By reaching the top of the hill, you will have a 360-degree view of the outskirts. There are plenty of copies of Michelangelo artworks as well. To relax after a steep climb, you can visit a local restaurant and taste delicious meals there.
8. Palazzo Pitti
Another site that is worth visiting when you are in Florence is the Palazzo Pitti, which was constructed in the XVth century on the banks of the River Arno. The palace is one of those great samples of Renaissance architecture.
Back in medieval times, the palazzo was home to royalty and Medicis. Nowadays, this is a museum, being one of the largest and most popular spots for tourists to admire. Once you get inside, you will see a lot of decoration artworks that come directly from the Renaissance period. Such artists as Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and others left their frescos and artworks there.
9. Freshen Yourself in Boboli Gardens
After you admire the Palazzo Pitti, you can simply go outside and have some fresh air in the Boboli gardens that are located right behind the palace. It should be mentioned that this beautiful place served as inspiration for many other gardens of the epoch, including those of Versailles in France. A part from various plants, there are plenty of statues, fountains and even ponds inside. The park is divided into three theme parts, including English, Baroque and olive trees.
10. Visit the Duomo Complex and Hidden Terraces
Florence is rich in various interesting places and monuments that are worth tourists’ attention. With this 2-hours guided tour , you will be able to admire the Duomo Complex and discover its hidden terraces. The program of the tour includes Giotto’s Bell Tower, Duomo Museum, etc. The guide will provide you with many interesting facts about the places you are going to visit.
This is the best tour to Duomo ever as it includes a lot of interesting sites that can be seen in a comparatively short time. Keep in mind that Duomo Cathedral has a strict dress code, meaning that you should cover your shoulders and knees before entering there. You will walk a lot during this tour. Therefore, it is better to wear comfortable shoes.
11. Visit Local Market
Make a short break after visiting a lot of picturesque places with plenty of Renaissance monuments and go to the local Florence market (Mercato Centrale). Visitors will find plenty of alimentary goods there, including fresh meat, fruit, traditional pasta and even fish. Apart from fresh foods, tourists will be able to taste delicious cooked meals there.
Italy is famous for its wine. Once you find yourself inside the Mercato Centrale, you will be able to take a rest in one of those comfortable wine bars to taste delicious beverages coming from this part of Italy. Last but not least, tourists can buy various souvenirs and clothes there.
12. Walking Tour of Florence
Prepare yourself for some more walking with this 3-hour tour of Florence. The program includes familiarization with the Accademia Gallery to see the greatest masterpiece of Michelangelo. You will also come across some other interesting places, even those that were already covered in this article.
One of the advantages of this particular itinerary is that it is divided into two parts. The first one includes a lot of pleasure for those art lovers. The other will provide you with insight into the history of Florence.
13. Discover the Private walkway of Cosimo de Medici
Medici was one of the most powerful dynasties in Florence and the whole of Italy. They have sponsored a lot of buildings and artworks in the city. Vasari Corridor was designed as a walkway for Cosimo de Medici that connected the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Vecchio. The corridor stretches alongside Arno. The corridor boasts a lot of artworks inside. However, most of them were damaged in the past.
14. Enjoy Italian Opera Concert
Cultural life in Florence (Italy) seems to never stop. After exploring all those artworks and sculptures that this capital of Renaissance is dotted with, you can go to Santa Monaca Church to please your ears with outstanding voices of local opera singers. The impression will be augmented by exclusive ambiance and acoustic that reigns in the church.
Regardless of whether you are a true fan of opera or simply want to familiarize yourself with this form of art, by visiting this church, you will take a lot of positive emotions with you. The program of performance includes pieces composed by Puccini, Verdi, Rossini and other famous representatives of Italian classical music pantheon.
15. Santa Maria Novella
The church was built between the XIII and XIV centuries in a Romanesque style. This is another representative of Italian art as you will find a lot of frescos inside. The façade of the church dates back to 1470. It should be mentioned that it holds the name of the sponsor instead of the name of the church.
While the interior is mostly Gothic, there are plenty of beautiful frescos, including the most famous one by Masaccio. This is the best work of art that you can find in this church. In addition, plenty of other frescos can be found on the ceilings of the church.
16. Chianti and Wine Testing
If you are tired from all those works of art of Renaissance and other epochs, there is one thing that you should never miss when visiting this part of Italy. A 5-hour tour to Chianti will allow you to freshen up and to clear your head before going to the next monument of art or attending another church in Florence.
The small town of Chianti gives you this atmosphere of peace after crowded streets of Florence with thousands of tourists walking around in an attempt to enjoy another site. What makes the trip to Chianti even more attractive is the possibility to stay in a local vineyard and to taste the best wines of the region.
17. Back to Florence: Forte di Belvedere
This building is located in the grounds of Boboli Gardens. So if you follow one of the previous recommendations to visit the gardens in Florence, you can stay there for a bit longer and admire Forte di Belvedere.
This Renaissance fortress right in the heart of the city produces indelible impressions. Forte di Belvedere is the second largest fortress in the region. It stands on the southern banks of Arno, which was a very important position at that time.
Nowadays, tourists can admire the fantastic design of this renaissance fortress. By reaching this site, you can also take some outstanding pictures of the city
18. Visit the Museum of San Marco
Former San Marco Monastery is known as the National Museum of San Marco nowadays. One of the key pieces there are the artworks by Fra Angelico. The main theme for most of his works were Biblical stories. Fra Angelico used the most cutting-edge painting technique of the time.
Apart from Angelico’s works, there are some other pieces of art by a couple of Renaissance painters. Michelozzo decorated the library of the monastery, where visitors can find a lot of interesting books nowadays.
19. Find out More about Galileo
While born in Pisa, Galileo Galilei spent a huge part of his life in Florence. Once you come to the city, you should definitely visit the museum where you can find some tools that a famous Pisa native used in his scientific routine. Apart from Galileo’s tools collection, there are some other interesting things like the scientific collection of Medicis and the Lorraine.
20. Spend some Time in the Shade of Fontana del Porcellino
This is one of the most popular fountains in Florence. As you can guess from its name, this fountain represents a boar. According to some local legends, those who kiss the boar’s snout, will return to the city again. Those tourists who want some more luck, throw coins into the water.
Time to Leave? Come in Florence Again
As you can see, there are plenty of great things to do in this part of Italy. Florence has tons of best places to visit and even if you have covered most of them, there are a lot of others to explore. Florence represents the riches of Medicis and each time you come here, you will find something that will attract your attention.