What to see in Florence? Complete guide to the city!
Florence is undoubtedly one of the most important art cities in Italy, and who comes here doesn’t risk to be bored here. Between the museums, markets, churches, art and culture you can stay here a month and you will always have something new to discover ! What are the most important points of interest? What to see in Florence? Here is a complete guide for you!
What to see in Florence: 15 things not to miss!
How to choose the most important museums to visit in Florence? What to do during your stay? Here is a list of 15 most important sights, you don’t want to miss during your visit in town! Let’s discover together what to see in Florence!
1. Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio , which means the old bridge, is definitely the most iconic monument in Florence.
It’s a fourteenth-century bridge built in the city as a market bridge. In the Middle Ages you would actually buy meat on Ponte Vecchio. This is the only bridge that survived World War 2 and thanks to the Medici family since the late sixteenth century you cannot buy meat on the bridge any more, but the bridge is full of gold shops. In fact, it’s the most sparkling bridge in Florence.
2. Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is the most important museum in town inside you can admire the masterpieces by Giotto, Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo. It is difficult to think about a visit in Florence without a visit at the Uffizi.
3. Galleria dell’Accademia
Galleria dell’Accademia is the second most popular museum among the visitors who come to Florence and the reason of its fame is very simple: inside you can admire the original statue of Michelangelo’s David, the true icon of the Italian Renaissance.
4. Bargello Museum
The Bargello Museum is absolutely compulsory for all the sculpture lovers who visit Florence. In fact, it’s the most important sculpture museum in the world. Inside you can admire the magnificent Bacchus and Tondo Pitti by Michelangelo and the bronze David by Donatello.
5. Medici Chapels
The Medici Chapels are a museum where all the lovers of Michelangelo’s art have to go. In fact, inside you will visit the so-called New Sacristy, a funerary chapel that Michelangelo designed for the Medici family. In this space the architect managed to unite architecture and sculpture creating an absolute masterpiece.
6. The Cathedral and the Piazza Duomo
It is almost impossible to visit Florence without discovering the holy centre of the city, the square in front of the Cathedral, the Piazza Duomo with all the most sacred monuments: the Baptistery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore the bell tower and the Cathedral Museum.
You will need a half day to visit the whole complex but if you decide to climb the Brunelleschi’s dome or the bell tower it is definitely worth the time you spend.
7. San Lorenzo Basilica
The first Cathedral of Florence, however, was located at San Lorenzo. Later on this church became the centre of the power of the Medici family who lived in the neighbourhood. If you visit the church you can admire Brunelleschi’s architecture and Donatello’s sculpture. It’s definitely worth visiting.
8. Santa Maria Novella
During your visit in Florence it’s worth entering one of the two Dominican convents in the city, Santa Maria Novella or San Marco. Inside Santa Maria Novella you will find many treasures of Renaissance art including the famous Trinity by Masaccio, the first fresco with a correct use of linear perspective.
9. San Marco
San Marco is the second of the Dominican convents in the city, rebuilt in the mid-15th century thanks to the funds made accessible by Cosimo the Elder de’ Medici. Inside the rooms of the friars were decorated by a Dominican painter Fra Angelico. It’s another little treasure hidden between the Florentine streets.
10. Santa Croce
During the Middle Ages Florence attracted the Dominicans but also the Franciscan order and Santa Croce became their centre here in the city. Today the Basilica is a place where you can discover the fresco painting and the frescoes painted by Giotto, the famous medieval painter, but here you will also find many tombs of the famous Italians including Michelangelo, Galileo and Macchiavelli.
11. Santo Spirito
The most important church on the other side of the Arno river is Santo Spirito. A very important centre for the development of the Renaissance. Imagine that here, in the library of the friars the famous poet Francesco Petrarca discovered the texts of Saint Augustine. In the church you will admire the beautiful crucifix by Michelangelo and the Pala Nerli, an altarpiece by the Florentine painter Filippino Lippi.
12. San Miniato al Monte
If you are not afraid of longer walks you can also climb the top of the hill that guards the city from the South and visit one of the oldest churches in town, San Miniato al Monte. This Basilica dating back to 1018 is a real time machine. It will bring you back to the 11th century. After your visit you can get down and take pictures from the Piazzale Michelangelo and then, through the Rose Garden you can get back to the centre.
13. Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
In Florence you can visit also many Renaissance palaces of the various important families. If you want to travel in time and visit the court of the Medici Dukes, you have to visit Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. The main floor of Pitti Palace is today a painting gallery, that displays a very rich pain ting collection which once belonged to the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. After the visit to the museum you can discover the Garden and relax in the nature after a long walk in the centre.
14. Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio was the seat of the government of Florence during the Middle Ages, it was the Palace of the so-called priors, who ruled the city between the 13th and the 16th centuries. Later on the Medici family transformed this palace into their first Ducal residence. Inside you can discover the beautiful Room of the Five Hundred and the private rooms of the Ducal family.
15. Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Before moving to Palazzo Vecchio the Medici family occupied Palazzo Medici, which was the first Renaissance palace built in mid-15th century in Europe, thanks to the money of Cosimo the Elder de’ Medici. During the visit to the palace you can discover the courtyard and the private chapel of the family and also the Baroque Room of the Mirrors decorated by Luca Giordano during the 17th century for the Riccardi family who bought the palace from the Medicis.
What to see in Florence walking?
The good news is that the centre of Florence is really small so you can actually walk everywhere.
The only point that is a little bit more distant than the others is the Basilica of San Miniato. You can get there with a taxi and then you can walk down the hill to get back to the centre.
What to see in Florence in 1 day?
In one day you will manage to visit the historical centre, walking between Piazza Duomo and Piazza della Signoria. You can climb Brunelleschi’s dome, to see the magnificent view on the city and after your lunch you can discover the Uffizi Gallery.
What to see in Florence in 2 days?
In two days you will manage to appreciate the city quite well. You can visit the Duomo Complex and the Uffizi Gallery. It is worth discovering the historical centre on a walking tour passing through Piazza della Repubblica, via Tornabuoni, Piazza Santa Trinita, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio.
You can also cross the Arno river and discover Santa Spirito Basilica. Then, you can dedicate an afternoon to Michelangelo’s art visiting the Accademia Gallery and the Medici Chapels.
What is the best itinerary to visit Florence?
If you want to visit Florence, you have to start from a walk in the historical centre. Try to discover the most important squares, starting from Piazza Santa Maria Novella, located just behind the train station. From there you can start walking towards via Tornabuoni, Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza Duomo. Then you can cross the Medieval part of the city getting towards Piazza della Signoria. From Piazza della Signoria you can reach Piazzale degli Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio and Oltrarno.
After the city walk you can dedicate your time to the museum visits. It’s worth starting from the Uffizi Gallery. If you still have some spare time you can visit the Accademia Gallery, or enter the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens.
What are the other activities you can do in Florence?
My advice is that you go to one of the food markets in the city, there is not a better place where you can learn about the local Tuscan cuisine than the Mercato di San Lorenzo and the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. The markets are open from Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm.
Very important thing to do in Florence is also to eat!
You have to try our artisan ice-cream and if you want you can also try our street food, lampredotto, it’s a sort of tripe, it’s the fourth stomach of a cow that you will find in the little food trucks in the centre. Lampredotto is boiled for hours in broth and served in a bun with a parsley sauce and the spicy peperoncino.
Another way, how to explore Florence is to visit the artisan workshops. If you lose your way between the narrow streets in the centre, there you will find the small workshops where people make manually handbags, purses and they work the leather or they make jewellery. You can still meet people who do the same professions as their grandfathers centuries ago.
Do you want to discover the territory on a slower pace? Contact me for your personal itinerary!