Entitled as the city of art, the immense archaic culture of Florence is not hidden from the world’s eye. It appears as though the entire city was formed with the hands of a population superior in artistic expressions. From Dante’s marble throne watching over its township to the countless numbers of masterpieces, world-famous jewelry street on Ponto Vecchio along with the enticing Tuscan dishes; every corner Florence inspires wonder in its visitors.
The architecture in Florence has taken a leap over the usual Italian earthy colors; shades of purple, pink and gold are incorporated across the urban area. Florence is home to the groundbreaking artists from the Renaissance era and their works- helping a revolution that dissolved backward ideologies to fight against European dark ages.
UNESCO has announced the entire urban districts of Florence as the world’s heritage site, leaving a short vacation constrained with time to see all Florence has to offers. However, a few days retreat can be sufficient for quick a plunge into Firenze’s treasure box. This list highlights the top attractions and must-see places to visit in Florence.
1. Santa Maria Del Fiore – Gothic Cathedral of Florence
Rested at the cultural heart of the city, the name of this cathedral translates into the St. Mary of flowers; a phrase not misleading the cathedral’s poetic essence. Construction of St. Mary cathedral started at the end of the 13th century and awaited the birth of another artist for its completion; Filippo Brunelleschi added the most significant part of the whole structure to change the overall appearance of both Firenze and the cathedral- the world’s largest dome among its kind.
The entrance is adorned with a gold shimmering clock is in consensus with Ora Italica; a diverse mode of counting hours where the sunset is measured as the end and begging of the day. The Interior part of the dome is ornamented with magnificent paintings of Giorgio Vasari that illustrate scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy and imageries from the 15th century, Florence. Duomo, as called by the locals, offers an extraordinary viewpoint atop its cupola or the dome roof. Silent is favored and advised in the ambient of St. Mary’s Cathedral.
2. Ponte Vecchio – The Jeweler’s Bridge
Leaning courteously across the river Arno, the Ponto Vecchio arch bridge is home to jewelry shops, art expositors and souvenir vendors. This bridge was built as a holy passage dating back to the Roman era. The devout bridge survived the erosion of time, WWII and occasional floods of Arno river.
The top facade of Ponto Vecchio is the royal passage of the Medici family known as Vasari Corridor, while its commercial history is traced back to 13 century. Occasional concerts are performed at the bridge to complement a delightful evening stroll along with the market. Boat rides and a picturesque view of Arno River are the old bridge’s additional features.
3. Uffizi Art Gallery
For art paramours, Florence is an artistic heaven on earth. Uffizi Gallery is a collection of the greatest Italian Renaissance masterpieces, foreign artworks, and archetypal sculptures. The building of this gallery was built in the 16th century with the skilled hands of a noble artist Giorgio Vasari.
An admirable assortment of art belonging to Leonardo, Rafael, Michelangelo, Lippi and many other irreplaceable works of Italian and European artists. Ancient Greek and Roman scriptures and sculptures along with inherited items from the Medici dynasty are other praiseworthy collections. From its basement to the top floor, take a walk through the timelines and various styles of art and relish the view over Florentine gardens of Bardini.
4. Giardino Bardini – Enchanted Bardini Gardens
Bardini gardens also known as the secret gardens are the concealed and green paragon of Florence. A four-hectare garden that offers foliage, state of art mosaic fountains and a view over the infinite skyline of Florence, is a hidden refuge of those seeking tranquility amid the city of art.
You can treat yourself to the typical fusion of coffee, gelato and other refreshments along the stone-paved pathways of the garden. Ponte Alle Grazie, or Gratitude Bridge, connects the backside of the garden to Olantro. You can expect velvety lush green scenery, admiring garden gates of southern entrance and fresh Tuscan breeze at Olantro side. Bike rentals are available for wandering further to the surrounding hills of south Florence.
5. Palazzo Vecchio – Historical Throne of Firenze
Wrapped in the hearty essence of art, antiquity, and architecture, Lord’s palace is only a few paces away from Duomo and Uffizi gallery. Palazzo Della Signoria, also known as Palazzo Vecchio or the old palace, has countless stories to tell of the city’s past manifestations.
The entrance opens to its courtyard adorned with Verrocchio Fountain in the center. The main floor, or the Piano Nobile, drop the head back with the 21 meters tall ceiling covered with golden framed painted scenes from Firenze’s battles and glories. Walking up the Vasarian staircase leads to the Medici family’s splendid apartments adorned with painted stories of history and mythology. While a 233 grand staircase provides an optimum panorama view of Florence, the basement is a time tunnel to the roman theatre’s excavated items.
6. Piazza Della Signoria – Old Square of Florence
A fusion of art and politics, Piazza Della Signoria is the square adjacent to the Old Palace. Sculptures in this square are the representative of political contradiction among different ruling dynasties; turning this circle to an emblem of political insolence of the past.
While Old Square is known as the Florentine sculpture treasure hub, Loggia Dei Lanzi is an addition to its bewildering magnificence. Sitting next to the Piazza, the arch of Loggia Dei Lanzi, shelters world-famous sculptures. Presenting an open-air gallery dating, this arched structure dates back to the ruling era of the Medici dynasty. Sculpted artworks – such as carved versions of Rape of Sabine Women painting – serve as an admirable art piece and an artistic impression of consequences for those who disobeyed Medici rulers.
7. Galleria dell’Accademia
Gallery of the academy is Florence’s badge of honor when it comes to art. Original statues of Michelangelo’s David, the prisoner and St. Matthew are some of the mentionable masterworks to glance upon in this gallery. Feast your eye on the ingenious works of Michelangelo and other artists as Sorto, Allori and Botticelli, from a petite distance.
Needless to say, Florence art is complemented by art; locating a gallery of the academy in a Renaissance-era structure that has been masterfully constructed. Gallery of the academy is visited by thousands of art enthusiast and tourists every year. Purchasing tickets beforehand is helpful to avoid lingering in the long lines.
8. Basilica Di San Lorenzo – Church of San Lorenzo
At the heart of Firenze’s market area, rising high on the city is the rustic dome of San Lorenzo’s church. Derived from the artistic inspirations of Fillipo Brunelleschi, San Lorenzo church is the resting place for Medici family members. It took over two centuries for the completion of this family mausoleum.
Along with royal family treasures and its historical significance, this church is described as a harmonious art-piece. Many distinguished artists, such as Donatello, and Michelangelo, were appointed to construct, decorate and restore the church’s body and interior. Inner parts are designed with flawless Renaissance architecture, adorned with religious paintings and sculptures. Medici family stone tombs are located at the Chapel of San Lorenzo Church.
9. Palazzo Pitti – Pitti Palace
To the south bank of the Arno river, Pitti palace is the governing abode to the more recent Florentine imperial families. A brick-red building, decorated with terracotta on the surface, is noted as the most important palace in Florence. In the year 1919 along with the unification of Italia, Emmanuel III gifted the palace to the city as a public treasure and museum in the following years.
Every room of the royal palace of Pitti is named after the artistic theme of its design; providing an array of art belonging to different timelines and artists. visit collections of Renaissance paintings, modern art museum and decorative art collection of the grand duke and at last, take a peek at the private rooms belong to the kings and queens of Florence. Pitti Palace is further from the historical center of Florence; cross the old bridge towards the south and follow the medieval cobbled-stone road to reach to the last ruling seat of Florence monarchy.
10. Boboli Garden
A walk around Pitti Palace leads to heavenly gardens of Boboli; another artistic fingerprint left from the Medici dynasty. Along with an open-air museum of Roman to medieval objects, prodigious fountains draped with well-cured greenery create an astonishing view. Enjoying an afternoon under the cool shades of Italian pine trees along with breathtaking sculpted masterpieces.
Combined with breathtaking sculptures, the cool shade of the garden’s trees over the cobbled-stone path provides a refreshing experience. A serene hideaway from the bustling parts of the city, transpire yourself with art and natural beauty of this royal garden. Visitors can extend their stay and leisure in authentic cafes located across the Boboli garden. Walking among the paths of this garden has been described as a walk among angels by the spirit of Italian poetry.
11. Basilica Di Santa Croce – Church of Holy Cross
To all glories, await a downfall. Great men who illuminated Florence, Italy and the entire world with their creative inspirations are buried within the church of Santa Croce. Impressive monuments designed by Vasari and other artists were built to rectitude of men like Galileo, Michelangelo, Rossini and Dante in their final resting place.
The world’s largest Francian Basilica is adorned with splendid paintings recounting the Death of St. Francis. Additional decorations of fresco style art were performed mostly by Giotto and his talented students. Respire the air faith, glimmering chapters of history and art all at once here in Santa Croce Basilica. This church is located at the Santa Croce Square, and a short walk from the Old Palace.
12. Piazza Della Repubblica – Republic Square
One of the most popular sites in Florence to catch the chase. Surrounded by the cafes, luxury shops and meeting points, Republic Square gatherings date back to pre-Christianity. Piazza Della Repubblica was built on the Florentine Roman Forum- the oldest site of the city’s public assemblies.
Colonna dell’Abbondanza, a 15th-century sculpture sited at the center of Square, symbolizes the Roman settlement of the Florentine soil. Writers, poets and other artists have been long finding inspiration in this neo-classical square that has its roots deep in history. Surrounded by noteworthy restaurants and cafes, you can dine over-viewing Florence’s antiquity.
13. Galileo Museum
Formerly known as the science museum of Florence, Galileo museum is located along the northern bank of Arno River. The original building of the museum is known as Castellani palace that has been serving as the center of documentation, research and a source of public astonishment.
Remarking the modern astronomy revolution, Galileo museum possesses valuable treasures; a collection of more than 1000 items with historic, mathematical and astronomical significance. Early telescope, celestial object models and scientific royal family collections belonging to Medici lineage are the prominent items of this museum. Some of Galileo’s personal articles, including the telescope used to observe Jupiter’s moons, are showcased along with other historic and scientific relicts.
14. Mercato Nuovo – New Market
Florence offers the most lenient regulations to support artisans and street markets to offer crafts, fresh produce and fun places to stroll. Among the many daily, weekly and annual markets, Mercato Nouvo is one of the extraordinary marketplaces in all Italy. Handcraft goods and souvenirs are sold around the historic artifacts that recall bitter and sweet memories.
The porcelain fountain in the southern part of the market offers a cool breeze and luck together. A legend recounts that the one who touches the bronze boar’s snout at the fountain is blessed with fortune thereafter. On the luck’s contradiction, Stone of Shame is located in the center of Mercato Nouvo; Individuals who committed minor crimes were punished publically in this place.
15. Piazzale de Michelangelo – Square of Michelangelo
In Florence, there is the touch of Michelangelo outshining art far and wide in the city. Michelangelo Piazzale or Square was built to convey the respect of Giuseppe Poggi to the mastership of Michelangelo. Bronze copies of his work along with one of the best viewpoints over the Florentine urban area are presented at this square.
Treat yourself to a traditional Italian café while gazing upon the square wall’s inscriptions; testifying its authenticity and antiquity. A climb up to the Michelangelo’s Square provides an interesting perspective of Florence while encompassing a tranquil surrounding.
Florence, with its extended cultural aspects, grasps all the attention of visitors. The dense presence of the historical and cultural sites and attractions in the city is the reason many travelers recommend getting around Firenze’s town on foot.
Take a day trip outside the city to immerse yourself in the Tuscan’s natural beauty; Chianti wine yards and wine tasting trips, olive gardens resting on the red Tuscan soil, Mediterranean hills and many parks and gardens available around Florence city.