Top Things to Do in Florence, Italy

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.

Looking Up at the Cathedral and Bell Tower
  1.  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.

    Replica of David in the Piazzale Michelangelo
  2. 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.

    Statue of David
  3.  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.

    Outdoor Statues in the Piazza
  4. 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 Up Close
  5.  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.

    The Birth of Venus
  6. 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.

    View from a Restaurant at Night
  7. 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.

    View of the Duomo

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.

Torre Guinigi in Lucca, Italy

During our trip to Tuscany, Italy, one of the places that we visited was Lucca. It was a day trip from Florence that took us to both Lucca and Pisa. Lucca itself is a wonderful little city with beautiful and historic architecture. Located in the heart of the city is the Torre Guinigi (Guinigi Tower), which is one of the few tower houses that were built in Lucca. If you plan a visit to Lucca, the Torre Guinigi should not be missed with its oak trees on the roof and amazing views.

Views from the Guinigi Tower
Rooftop Garden and Shade Trees
Nearing the Top
Narrow Streets of Lucca

Built in the late 1300’s by the Guinigi family, who were wealthy merchants in the area, the tower certainly stands out amongst the other buildings in Lucca. The climb up the 235 stairs to the top of the 125 foot tower is certainly worth it as you are rewarded with amazing views of the historic city. If the views of the city weren’t enough, the roof garden with its oak trees for shade are equally fascinating. One can imagine the wealthy Guinigi family sitting on the rooftop to escape the heat of city below with its warm breezes and wonderful shade trees.

Amazing Views of Lucca with Mountains in the Background
Lucca Cathedral
Looking Down at the Stairs of the Tower
Looking Out Through the Trees

As you look down at the rooftops from the Torre Guinigi, you get a true sense of the narrow, winding streets of the city. The Lucca Cathedral, or Cathedral of Saint Martin, clearly dominates the cityscape. The color variations of the church tower are even more dramatic when viewed from the Guinigi Tower. The cathedral, which dates back to 1070, is also something that should not be missed when visiting Lucca.

City Rooftops
Historic Buildings in Lucca
Following Signs to the Tower
Countryside in the Distance

There is a small fee in order to go to the top of the Torre Guinigi, but it is certainly worth the nominal price. We visited during the off-season, so there were no other tourists with us as we went to the roof to enjoy the views of the city and the Tuscan countryside. Unfortunately it was an overcast day, but that didn’t diminish how beautiful the scenery was from the rooftop.

Oak Trees on the Tower Rooftop
Beautiful Views in All Directions from the Tower
Window on the Tower Stairs
Looking Up at the Stairs Inside of the Torre Guinigi


We Have Arrived in Italy

This is our last trip of our extended stay here in Europe and we have every intention of making the most of it.  We arrived in Florence late Saturday night and awoke to a gorgeous day.  We have a lot planned in our few days in Italy, a few days in Florence, a few days in Rome, and a day in Pisa and the countryside of Tuscany.  If our first day was any indication of what to expect, our final trip will be one of the highlights of our six month adventure.  As always, we will provide more about what we have seen and the places that we have visited, but here are a couple of quick photos showing just a glimpse of the beauty that is Florence.

Stunning Sky
Busy Piazza