Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with a rich history that includes architecture, art, and politics. There are so many wonderful sights to see when spending time in Florence, but if you have limited time in the city there are a few things that should certainly be on your itinerary. We would certainly recommend spending at least 3 days in Florence if at all possible as there so much to see and do. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you can expect plenty of crowds in Florence, so going during the off-season is advisable. Here are our top things to do in what we would consider to be the order of priority depending on the amount of time that you have to spend in Florence.
The Duomo – Officially the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo dominates the city skyline. There is the cathedral itself, with the largest brick dome in the world as well as the bell tower and the baptistry. Although you could consider each of these as separate places to see, we have grouped them together as a single highlight when visiting Florence.
Piazzale Michelangelo – There are many reasons to make the effort to visit the square with the bronze replica of the Statue of David, but the main reason is the incredible views of the city. You will find many vendors selling food and trinkets and it is a wonderful spot to just sit and enjoy the beauty of Florence. There is also a restaurant located near the square, which was a great place to enjoy a wonderful glass of wine after the somewhat strenuous walk up to the top of the mount.
Galleria dell’Accademia – The Accademia Gallery is best known for having the Statue of David on display, but obviously there is a lot of other famous artwork on display. With seven different halls to wander and enjoy the incredible artwork, you should give yourself at least four hours when visiting the museum.
Piazza della Signoria – The plaza is an open-air museum that was built in the 1400’s and has a variety of statues on display. Two of the more famous statues are the Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna as well as Cellini’s Perseus. Considering it is free, it should definitely be one of the places that you make time to see.
Ponte Vecchio – This medieval bridge is certainly a highlight of any visit to Florence. Today it is filled with vendors selling a variety of local products, but it was originally the location of the butchers in the city. Like many other locations in Florence, expect plenty of crowds in the area and be careful of pickpockets taking advantage of tourists on the crowded streets.
Uffizi Gallery – With many great works of art from artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Machiavelli, it is certainly one of the most famous museums in the world. After all of the members of the Medici family had died out, a deal was made to donate all of the artwork to Florence and it is now housed in the Uffizi Gallery. Just like the Gallery Accademia, be prepared to spend at least several hours seeing all of the amazing works of art.
Local Restaurants – Obviously you need to eat and there are so many wonderful restaurants to choose from. There are probably few locations in the world that bring to mind the food of the region as much as Tuscany where Florence is located. We would certainly recommend eating at one of the restaurants that can be found along the Arno River as the scenery is quite beautiful, especially at night.
Needless to say, there are more sights to see than these, but we would recommend that you put all of these locations on your itinerary when visiting Florence. With so many beautiful sights, seemingly around every corner, just walking the streets of Florence is a magical experience. If you have enough time, taking a day trip to Lucca and to the Leaning Tower of Pisa is definitely a worthwhile experience.
There is more to the Accademia Gallery in Florence than just Michelangelo’s David. Florence was the center of the art world for hundreds of years and still contains incredible paintings and statues to be admired. In addition to the statue of David, there are many other statues by Michelangelo as well as other famous artists. Beautiful and sometimes haunting paintings can be found by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and many more. Much of the artwork was commissioned by the Medici family and then later donated by one of the last members of the Medici family so that they could be displayed for the pleasure of everyone to view.
With seven different halls to wander and enjoy the incredible artwork, you should give yourself at least four hours when visiting the museum. You don’t have to be an art critic to appreciate the wonderful pieces that can be found in the various halls within the gallery. Clearly, most of the artwork is religious in theme, but there are plenty of others that are historical or mythological in nature. Obviously, the statue of David is the main draw and you will likely find lots of crowds surrounding the famous statue. In addition to the Accademia Gallery, the Uffizi Gallery should also be visited to see some of the most famous Renaissance’s masterpieces.
Florence is such a beautiful city with so much history and art that can be found around almost every corner. The Accademia Gallery is certainly a museum that should not be missed when visiting the Tuscan city. With so many wonderful sights to see, Florence cannot be seen in just a couple of days, but really takes a full week to enjoy everything that it has to offer.
Suggesting that you should see the Duomo when visiting Florence is like suggesting that you should breathe, it is almost unavoidable. Not only does it dominate the skyline, but almost all of the roads will lead you there as well. With that said, it is truly one of the most stunning cathedrals in all of Europe. Officially called the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, the Duomo has the largest brick dome in the world. The façade of the cathedral is as equally beautiful with its intricate details and uniquely white coloring compared to most other cathedrals.
Construction began on the church in 1296 and it would take about 140 years to complete. The complex is made up of three buildings, the cathedral itself, the Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile, which is the bell tower. The Piazza del Duomo is definitely a crowded location as tourists flock to the area to see the Duomo of Firenze. You could spend hours looking at the details of the façade, which is made up of marble panels of pink and green with white borders. The artwork above the doors of the cathedral is as beautiful as the artwork that can be found in the city’s museums. You can also get tickets to enter the Baptistery, but even if you don’t enter, the ornate doors cannot be missed.
To truly get an understanding of how impressive the size of the Duomo is, visit the Piazzale de Michelangelo which overlooks the city. Although there are other towers and churches in Florence, nothing compares to the magnificence of the Duomo. Between the dome and the bell tower, the cathedral truly dominates the historic city. There are many reasons to visit Florence, but seeing the Duomo is high on the list of things to see not only in Florence, but also in all of Italy if not Europe.