Florence in a word? Abundant. There’s history at every turn, unreal art and architecture, jaw-dropping history, and loads of boutique shopping (eek!). Overall there are a hundred million things to see and do in Florence. So we’ve narrowed it down to the essentials! What’s more, we’ve added suggestions for an off-the-beaten-track experience.
Florence in a nutshell
Florence has an historic centre that is basically one big UNESCO world heritage site. We suggest you start your tour of the birthplace of the Renaissance here. The Florence Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore), the Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile are all in the Piazza del Duomo.
From here, in the direction of the Arno River, is the Piazza della Signoria. This is Florence’s main square. The history of the Florentine Republic is based here, for one thing, but it’s also a favourite amongst the locals. Bordering the square is the 13th century Palazzo Vecchio (town hall), which is a particularly fascinating experience. Check out the detailed palace facade at the same time! Also, don’t forget to visit the Loggia dei Lanzi opposite this building, for its awesome statue gallery.
Then it’s time for some epic paintings! The famous Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery) is just off the Piazza della Signoria, up against the banks of the Arno River. Above all, be sure to admire Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation”. There’s also a wealth of Renaissance works to be found. The gallery itself is right next door to one of Italy’s most iconic bridges, the Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River.
Not visiting the pièce de résistance of Florence, the iconic statue of David, is a no-no! You’ll want to reserve an entire morning for Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece. The Galleria dell’Accademia is busy all year round, so booking your ticket to see David is essential. You can do this on the museum’s website.
Did you know?
Florence actually has three statues of David; the original in the Galleria dell’ Accademia, a life-sized replica in the Piazza della Signoria, and a bronze replica in the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Florence off the beaten track
See Michelangelo and Galileo’s tombs
The Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the world’s oldest Franciscan basilicas. They call it the ‘Temple of Italian Glories’ because of the remains it holds. More Italian artists and masters are buried here than in other church in Italy. Amongst them is the famous sculptor Michelangelo, and the polymath, Galileo Galilei.
Hike to where da Vinci tried to fly!
Fiesole is just outside Florence, and is home to Monte Ceceri. Climbing this mountain will expose you to particularly stunning Tuscan vistas. But there’s a charming secret hidden here! One of the trails has a small placard, which reveals an exciting fact. This is the exact place Leonardo da Vinci first tried his hand at flight in 1506!