10 Things you should not miss in Florence
It goes without saying that visiting Florence is a must if you are planning to spend your vacation in Italy. There is really a lot to see in Florence and we must confess that it is practically impossible to see eveything the city has to offer in one day. However, we can suggest you 10 Things To Do in Florence, in case you do not have too much time for your visit.
Florence, The Cradle of The Renaissance
The capital city of Tuscany is also known as the Craddle of the Renaissance for the unique artistic heritage you can find around every corner. Florence was home to worldwide famous artists like Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci, to mention a few. The city center represents a World Heritage Site and was aknowledged by UNESCO in 1982. Even if the city’s roots date back to more ancient times, it was during the dinasty of the Medici’s that it gained a very important economical and political position. Moreover, most of the family members were passionate about art and financed many of the incredible masterpieces we can still see in Florence today.
Below you find the 10 Top Things You Should not miss in Florence, in order to enjoy it as much as possible.
1- Visit the Uffizi Galleries
If you like art and you plan to visit Florence, you should absolutely dedicate a couple of hours to one of the oldest museums in the western world. The Uffizi hosts incredible masterpieces from the Renaissance period. Indeed, you can find here many works signed by renomated artists like Botticelli, Raffaello, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. However, the museum also hosts important German, Dutch and Flemish paintings. Due to the high number of visitors especially during the high season, we recommend you to pre-book the entrance tickets. This way, you can save some time and avoid long waiting lists.
You can purchase the tickets on the official website.
2 – Visit Piazza della Signoria
Together with Piazza Duomo, this is one of the most important squares in Florence. Indeed, this square played an important role in the political life of this city. Here, many historical and symbolical events like the triumphal return of the Medici’s in town took place. As a matter or fact, most of the monuments and buildings you can admire in this square refer to the political power of Florence during the years.
Among them, you find Palazzo Vecchio, today hosting the town hall of Florence and a museum. The fortress was built in 1299 and it became the residence of the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. Worth a visit is the inside of Palazzo Vecchio for the well known Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred, 1494) and the many hidden passageways ordered by the family. The building features the Arnolfo’s Tower with 416 steps to climb, if you wish to enjoy the view from the top.
In addition, you can admire the suggestive open air gallery of Loggia dei Lanzi right next to Palazzo Vecchio, the copy of the David statue by Michelangelo and the majestic Nettuno fountain by Ammannati.
3- Visit Piazza Duomo
Fulcrum of the Florentine art is undoubtely the stunning Piazza Duomo. Here, you can find the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, whose construction started in the 13th century over the ruins of a previous church. Indeed, the rests of the original building can be seen in the cathedral’s crypt. The emerald green and pink marble facade will leave you breathless. Moreover, the inside is worth a visit for the presence of important frescoes like The Last Judgement from Giorgio Vasari and Giotto’s Crucifix.
Next to the Cathedral, there is the Giotto’s Tower, a 85-meter tall tower that recalls the same colours of Santa Maria del Fiore. It is a fine example of Gothic architecture and you can climb it to the top to the appreciate the city centre from another perspective. We inform you that there are 414 steps to climb totally.
In the same square, you find the Baptistery of San Giovanni with its peculiar octagonal layout. The legend tells it was originally a pagan temple. We suggest you to have a look at the incredible bronze doors on the eastern side of the church. The doors are knows as the “Gate of Paradise” as per Michelangelo’s words to describe them.
4- Do not miss Ponte Vecchio
The Old Bridge is nowadays one of the most photographed bridges in Italy and it represents a real landmark in Florence. Ponte Vecchio is located in the narrowest point of the river Arno and because of a big flood devastating the city in the 14th century it had to be rebuilt. Another flood in 1966 put it at risk but it eventually survived the catastrophy.
The peculiarity of this bridge is that it features small shops and houses on it. In fact, you can find old jewellery shops there, being the only economical activities allowed to run there by the Medici’s. When the prominent family moved to Palazzi Pitti (on the other side of the river), they ordered the construction of a secret passageway on top of Ponte Vecchio, today known as the Vasari Corridor. The Corridor represented a connecting route between their former residence of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria and the new residence of Palazzo Pitti. This way the family could move freely and hidden from the public.
5- Take a walk in the marvellous Boboli Gardens
Palazzo Pitti became the new official Medici’s residence in 1550, when the family purchased it. Right behind Palazzo Pitti, the magical Boboli Gardens are located. It is not only an important green lung in the city, but also a real open air museum. Indeed, the park hosts both Roman and Renaissance sculptures and fountains sheltered by the old oak trees. Its structure inspired many Royal gardens in Europe, like the famouse Versailles. The name Boboli seems to derive from the Borgolo’s family, who originally own the properties in the 15th century. Many important artists like Vasari and Ammannati contributed to its development, which was not completed until the 19th century. Enjoy a relaxing walk and discover for example the suggestive Grotto from Bernardo Buontalenti and the Neptune’s Fountain. In addition, you can enjoy a nice view over Florence from the Boboli Gardens.
6- Enjoy the view over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
Also located in the Oltrarno district, Piazzale Michelangelo is a big panoramic terrace, from where you can enjoy a more complete view over the city. From there, you can take postcard like pictures of this marvellous city. For this reason, we included the visit to Piazzale Michelangelo to the 10 Top Things To Do in Florence. As its name suggests, Piazzale Michelangelo is dedicated to the great Renaissance artist. This place dates back to 1869, when Florence ruled over the country as a capital. You can reach Piazzale Michelangelo with a nice walk through the narrow streets of San Niccolo, on the other side of the river when leaving from Piazza Duomo or from Piazza della Signoria.
7- Explore the San Lorenzo district
If the above mentioned Oltrarno is the bohemien district in Florence, the one of San Lorenzo is also very lively. Here you find the biggest open air market in town, where to buy leather products and souvenirs. The neighbourhood takes its name from the beautiful Basilica of San Lorenzo, the oldest church in the city. Brunelleschi, the same artist signing the huge red dome in Piazza Duomo, designed the present building in 1423, but the church was actually originally consacrated in 393. Behind the Basilica, you find the Medicean Chapels (Cappelle Medicee), the Medici’s mausoleum. Additionally, the Biblioteca Laurenziana with its famous staircase by Leonardo da Vinci is to be found next to the church.
8- Visit the Mercato Centrale in San Lorenzo
If lunch time is close and you find yourself in this vibrant district, you can stop by the big Mercato Centrale, the oldest food market in town.
The market is located in a beautiful building designed by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni in 1874, when Florence was the Italian Capital. This is the perfect place where to enjoy simple and fresh products and high standards at the same time. On the 1st floor you find plenty of bars and restaurants.
9- Do not forget to try a Panino with Lampredotto
This is a real institution in Florence. That is why we thought this recommendation has to be included in the list of 10 Things To Do in Florence. If you wish to live the city like a local, we recommend you to try the tyipical Florentine sandwich. Lampredotto is beef tripe, specifically the fourth stomach of the cow. The Florentines usually cook it slowly with tomatoe, parsley, celery and onion and serve it in a soft bread roll. You can combine it with a good glass of red wine. The places where you can commonly find this delicacy are called tripperia. They are small kiosks you can find a bit everywhere in Florence. Though, it is hard to find this specialty outside of the Florence area.
10- Enjoy a Bistecca alla Fiorentina
The last of our 10 Things To Do in Florence is the socalled Bistecca alla Fiorentina. As the name suggests, we are talking about a steak made the Florentine way. The locals use to cook the T-steak for few minutes only, what makes your Fiorentina look undercooked. However, according to the tradition, the stake must be quite rare. The size of a Fiorentina usually makes it necessary to share it with someone else, unless you are a real meat lover! You can order a Bistecca alla Fiorentina in almost every trattoria and restaurant in Florence. Unlike the lampredotto, this is a common recipe in the Tuscan cuisine.
There is surely much more to do in Florence. Actually, we think you should spend there at least one week to enjoy it fully. Still, we hope you appreciated our recommendations of 10 Things To Do in Florence.
If you like to have someone showing you around, consider joining one of our Private Tours to Florence.
Join our Tours to discover Florence
On our website you find our top tour to Florence. During the tour, you will have the chance to visit the Uffizi Galleries or the Accademia. In addition, you will admire the city centre and Ponte Vecchio and enjoy the view from Piazzale Michelangelo. We can pick you up from most of the Tuscan cities like Pisa, Lucca, Viareggio, etc. If you are staying in Florence, we also offer a range of excursions. We can bring you to the nearby San Gimignano, Volterra, Monteriggioni, Siena, etc.
Our tours can be customized according to your needs. Our staff is always at your disposal and will make you feel like home!