When planning a visit to Florence, you’re probably wondering what the most important things to do are during the short amount of time you have. The city is full of impressive monuments and museums, both in the center and the Oltrarno, and it’s almost impossible to see them all. The following is a quick list of great places to hopefully make your stay a little easier!
It may seem obvious that a visit to the Duomo, also known as the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, is necessary, but make sure you step into the adjacent Baptistery as well. The Byzantine mosaic on the ceiling proves how impressive artwork can be, and it’s a nice change from the possibly overwhelming amount of frescoes you’ll be seeing around the city. For another place to admire the incredible architecture of Brunelleschi’s dome or the marble stonework on the outside of the Cathedral, make the climb up the Campanile (and the Dome) for a fantastic view of the city, rain or shine. You’ve never seen anything like it.
The Galleria dei Uffizi is another must-see in Florence. If not for the classical renaissance architecture of the museum, visit for the works of Michelangelo and Botticelli that are inside. No pictures can do “The Birth of Venus” justice! Be sure to see the red, velvet-lined Tribuna room commissioned by the Medici family which was used to display the best artwork of the day, set up as it used to be. There are also great outlooks over the city from the museum windows and the traditional Italian frescoed works on the ceiling make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
After the Uffizi, walk over to the iconic Ponte Vecchio, the oldest surviving (and thriving) bridge in Florence. Ponte Vecchio is lined with jewelry stores that have been there for decades, which replaced old butcher shops that once polluted the Arno. You will be surrounded by hundreds of years of history, from the Medici Dukedom to World War II that had a large impact in shaping the city of Florence and its culture.
Don’t forget to take a look at what’s on the other side of the river, such as the beautiful Palazzo Pitti. Besides the multiple museums inside the palace for classical paintings and luxurious apartments, the Boboli Gardens that lie behind it make quite a name for themselves. The gardens stretch for about 11 acres on the hillside behind the palace and were one of the first and most elaborate 16th-century styled Italian gardens due to the style and decoration. You’ll also get a beautiful overlook of the Florence townscape, rival to the one at Piazza Michelangelo.
Whether you take these suggestions to heart or if you plan to make your stay a little more unconventional and break away from the usual tourist attractions, you will not be disappointed by what Florence has to offer. If you’d like to take a guided tour and get more in depth into the history of this fantastic city, Florencetown offers a variety of tours around Florence in the top museums, as well as great walking tours to the aforementioned destinations. Find out more at florencetown.com or visit us while you’re here at Via de’ Lamberti 1, right around the corner from Piazza della Signoria!
Shannon Noel Grady