Top 10 Things to Do in Florence
In the past it was home to many incredible artists, sculptures, architects, poets and important church figures.
Even if you’re not an art connoisseur, you’ve probably heard of people like Michaelangelo, Dante Alighieri, Donatello, Niccolo Machiavelli or Leonardo da Vinci, who at one point made Florence their home and so left their work for us to see now.
Below you can find a list of the 10 most beautiful things to do in Florence.
1. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The cathedral is probably the most famous building in the city. You can take forever to explore both the outside and the inside of the cathedral, as it is full of amazing art.
Some say that Renaissance art began here when the famous marble door with Isaac’s excavation scene was created.
Inside the cathedral you can see some sculptures by Michael Angelo, including the most famous tomb of Pope Urban VII.
Trust me, you will be amazed at the amount of art you can see!
2. Ponte Vecchio.
One of the most famous bridges in the world never fails to amaze visitors, as if from a fairy tale.
On the bridge itself you can buy a lot of silver, so if you want to propose to your girlfriend in Florence, this is the place to get her a beautiful ring.
The bridge has two levels, but the top floor is closed to the public and only opens for special events once or twice a year.
Florence is not the only beautiful city in Europe: see our list of the most beautiful cities in Europe
3. the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte.
This church is impressive both inside and out.
It is located at the highest point of the city, so the view from the top is really breathtaking.
The basilica is one of the best examples of Romanesque construction not only in Italy, but in all of Europe!
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4. The Copula of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The hill offers a magnificent view of the city
If you’re not tired and want to see the city from above, you can climb the bundle of the cathedral.
The view is definitely worth it, but remember that there is no elevator inside, so you have to climb all 463 steps, even when it’s hot outside!
5. Piazzale Michaelangelo.
If you don’t want to climb many steps, you can also go to Piazzale Michaelangelo for a great view of the whole city.
You can take a short walk up the slope or just take a bus directly to the top.
In addition to the beautiful view, you can see another replica of the statue of David at the top of the hill. It’s well worth it!
Looking for more in Italy than Florence? Read our Italy travel guide for travel tips and information
6. Piazzale della Signoria.
We loved this square in Florence.
Right after Piazza Mihaelangelo, Piazzale della Signoria is the most beautiful square in Florence.
Go there if you’re hungry – it’s the best place to eat delicious Italian food like pizza, spaghetti, tiramisu or panna cotta.
If you don’t feel like eating, you can just stay in one of the romantic cafes for a while and watch people pass by.
7. Statue of David.
The famous statue of David.
The Statue of David was confusing because many visitors think you can see it right in the middle of the square.
Well, we apologize for letting you know this, but it is only a copy of this famous Michael-Angelo’s work, and the real David stands inside at the Academy of Fine Arts. Be patient when you visit, as the line can be as long as the Mona Lisa. painting in the Louvre or the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.
Love Florence? Read: A walking tour of Florence, A Tale of Two Davids
8. Santa Croce Basilica.
Image source Wikipedia
Another beautiful church in Florence!
This is where the most famous Italians are buried. You will find the graves of Galileo, Michaelangelo or Machiavelli there.
These men changed world history, so it’s great to be able to pay homage to them while sightseeing in Florence.
There’s so much to see in Italy: 10 amazing places to see near Rome!
9. Gallery d’Uffizi.
You can spend hours in this museum.
There’s probably so much to see in this wonderful museum that you could spend hours there.
From the Venus of Urbino to the Botavelli Primavera, you won’t forget your visit.
Make sure you book your tickets in advance so you can miss a very long time outside of the museum. Better to get lost in the beautiful streets of Florence than to stand in an endless line.
10. Piazza del Duomo.
The sun is setting over the city.
Last but nevertheless important. Piazza del Duomo, located in the heart of Florence, is surrounded by beautiful buildings and breathtaking works of art.
There are plenty of restaurants and stores, so it’s an amazing place to spend time after a busy day of sightseeing in Florence.
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Florence really is a city of art. Have you been? What is your favorite place in Florence?
Traveling around Italy? Check out the Top 10 Things to do in Bologna
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10 things to do in Florence
Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo, Donatello, Botticelli, Michelangelo were born and created here, Galileo worked, and the great Medici dynasty laid the foundations for modern politics. Florence was where the Renaissance arose and began its movement across Italy and then across Europe. You can talk about Florence for a long time and walk through it endlessly. There are places that deserve special attention – about them in our selection.
1. Visit the church of Santa Croce
The Basilica of Santa Croce, according to legend, was founded by Francis of Assisi himself. At any rate, the current basilica stands on the site of a church dedicated to this saint. Construction of the basilica began in 1294 and took almost a century, in 1442 it was consecrated by the Pope himself. Later, the church was rebuilt and reconstructed several times.
Be sure to look inside – in Santa Croce you can see fantastic 14th century stained glass windows by Taddeo Gaddi and Maso di Banco, frescoes by Giotto, Jacopo del Casentino, Domenico Veneziano and other Proto-Renaissance painters. The chapels of the church contain paintings by Giotto, Giorgio Vasari and many other Florentine painters of the 13th and 16th centuries. The interiors are decorated with sculptural works by Donatello, the Rossellino brothers and Antonio Canova. Santa Croce, among other things, is also a pantheon: the church contains the tombs of Niccolò Machiavelli, Gioachino Rossini, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Galileo Galilei, Guglielmo Marconi and the cenotaph of Dante Alighieri.
2. Getting into Vasari’s corridor from Palazzo Vecchio
The powerful walls of the Old Palace (the official name of the palazzo) were erected at the very beginning of the 14th century. The palace was built as a new government residence and named Palazzo Nuovo. It changed names several times: first as Palazzo della Signoria, in the Ducal era it became Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace), and after the rulers moved into the Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Vecchio became the Old Palace.
The building is crowned by the 94-meter Arnolfo clock tower, the clock is still in working order. The huge Hall of Five Hundred was intended for meetings of the Great Council of the People, its walls adorned with frescoes by Vasari. The Palazzo Vecchio has more than ten rooms. All of them are fantastically beautifully decorated with frescoes, wall paintings and coffered ceilings. Among the authors of the murals and paintings are Vasari, Ghirlandaio and Botticelli.
From the Green Room, a small door leads to the Vasari Corridor. This covered gallery connects Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, passing through the Uffizi Gallery and over the Ponte Vecchio. The corridor was built to move the Duke secretly and quickly from one palace to another, and is about a kilometer long. The corridor contains paintings by Roman and Neapolitan masters of the 16th and 17th centuries; worth seeing is the collection of self-portraits of great artists from around the world (almost all of them authentic). Vasari’s corridor can only be accessed with a guided tour, book in advance.
3. Get closer to art
To be in Florence and not walk the halls of the famous Uffizi Gallery is akin to a crime. The palace, where the museum is located, was originally built for judicial and administrative offices, hence the name. Later, the Tuscan dukes began to place their collections of paintings and statues in the palace’s corridors. The collections became full and could be seen by prior request. In 1769 the museum was opened to the general public.
Today the halls of the Uffizi Gallery exhibit masterpieces by Giotto, Botticelli, da Vinci, Vasari, Titian, Caravaggio – in short, all Italian art from the 12th to the 18th century. Paintings, sculpture, miniature, applied art are presented in the halls and corridors of this world-famous gallery.
4. Remember Dante and Beatrice
The little church of St. Margaret, located in one of the narrow medieval alleys, was founded in 1032. It became known as the Church of Dante. The church is near where Dante’s house stood, where Dante was married to his wife and where he met Beatrice and where she is buried. There is a basket near her tomb where guests of the church put notes with requests for the great poet’s beloved. Not far from the church is a museum of Dante.
5. A look into the heart of the city
Florence’s cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo), was nearly a hundred and fifty years in the making. It was painstakingly worked on because it was to surpass the cathedrals of Florentine rivals Siena and Pisa. Several times work was interrupted for decades: either the plague hindered construction, or there was no one to supervise the work. The most famous part of the cathedral is its dome, built by Filippo Brunelleschi. Next to the cathedral rises the bell tower, designed by Giotto, with exquisite finishes. The cathedral’s bell tower and dome offer a breathtaking view of the city.
In front of the Duomo’s main entrance is the 11th century San Giovanni baptistery, the oldest building in the Duomo and one of the oldest in the city. The dome inside the baptistery is decorated with Byzantine mosaics from the 13th and 14th centuries, but the most beautiful creations in the baptistery are the doors. The southern doors were made by Andrea Pisano at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th centuries and depict 28 scenes from the life of John the Baptist. The northern doors were created by Lorenzo Ghiberti at the beginning of the XV century: 28 panels with scenes from the New Testament. The eastern doors, created by the same Ghiberti, are called the “Gates of Paradise” and are considered the most famous, highly praised by Michelangelo.
Wanting to visit the Duomo, the baptistery and take panoramic photos from the bell tower is very much, so worry about tickets in advance. You can buy them online and choose the time of the visit – you do not have to stand in line.
6. See the famous “David”.
Founded in 1561, the Academy of Fine Arts in the halls of the gallery keeps the best examples of Florentine painting of the XV-XVI centuries. But most importantly, the original of Michelangelo’s great statue of David is kept here. No offense to the other exhibits, it is this sculpture that draws so many visitors to the Academy’s gallery.
7. Cross the Ponte Vecchio.
The oldest bridge in the city was built in 1345. To this day, it retains its original appearance. The Ponte Vecchio has always had trade, but while it used to have butchers’ shops, today it has jewelry stores. In the center of the bridge is a bust of the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini.
8. Relax in the coolness of the Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens surround Palazzo Pitti, residence of the Dukes of Tuscany and are a masterpiece of 16th century gardens. The gardens are situated on the Boboli hill and offer spectacular views of the city. The park itself is divided into public and semi-private zones with the help of grottoes and garden temples with colonnades. There are many fountains and statues, some of which are ancient.
9. Enjoy the panorama of Florence
Piazzale Michelangelo is a small square on top of one of the city’s hills. It was founded during a brief period of Florence’s metropolitan status (1865-1871). In the center of the square stands a bronze copy of “David”, at its foot are bronze copies of allegorical statues from the Medici Chapel. The main advantage of this square is the stunning panoramic view of Florence. It is worth the time and effort to reach the square on foot.
10. Rubbing Porcellino’s Nose
Not far from Piazza della Signoria is the New Market. The name, of course, is arbitrary, because the market has stood here for a long time. It used to be near the church of San Lorenzo, but because of the construction of the Medici Chapel it was moved. Today they sell leather goods and other items. Most tourists come here because of the bronze Porcellino pig, whose nose shines from the touch of many hands. There’s a belief: if you rub Porcellino’s nose, you’re sure to return to Florence.