Florence

  • FLORENCE

    the birthplace of the Renaissance!!

Welcome to Florence

Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto.

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Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery

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The Uffizi Gallery houses the world’s most important collection of Florentine art, so unless you have Skip the Line tickets you’ll need to get ready to queue!

The collection traces the rich history of Florentine art, from its 11th-century beginnings to Botticelli and the flowering of Renaissance art.

At its heart is the private Medici collection, bequeathed to the city in the 18th century.

Price

adult/reduced €8/4, incl temporary exhibition €12.50/6.25

Hours

8.15am-6.50pm Tue-Sun

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Location

Piazzale degli Uffizi 6
Florence, Italy

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Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori)

Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori)

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You’ll catch glimpses of the red-tiled dome of the Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori, peeping over the rooftops as soon as you arrive in Florence.

The 13th-century Sienese architect Arnolfo di Cambio was responsible for building many landmarks in Florence but this is his showstopper. The beautiful ribbed dome was creatively added by Brunelleschi in the 1420s.

The building took 170 years to complete, and the facade was remodeled to reflect Cambio’s design in the 19th century.

Inside the Duomo, your eyes are inevitably drawn upwards to that soaring painted dome and lovely stained-glass windows by such masters as Donatello. Visit the crypt, where Brunelleschi’s tomb lies, or to the top of the enormous dome itself for stupendous views over Florence.

Hours

10am-5pm Mon-Wed & Fri, to 4pm Thu, to 4.45pm Sat, 1.30-4.45pm Sun

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Location

Piazza del Duomo
Florence, Italy

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Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo

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If you want to catch those iconic, sweeping views of Florence you’ve seen in postcards, head to Piazzale Michelangelo.

From an elevated position overlooking the city, the fabulous views take in the city’s fortified walls, the River Arno, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio and, of course, the round red dome of the Duomo.

During the day, drink in the views as you stroll along the Renaissance promenade, overlooked by yet another copy of Michelangelo’s David. Return in the evening for magical views of Florence floodlit at night.

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Accademia Gallery

Florence_Accademia Gallery

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The Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) is dominated by one artwork in particular – Michelangelo’s staggeringly beautiful statue of David.

Carved from a single block of marble by the 26-year-old genius, it’s true you can’t really grasp the statue’s size and detail until you see him up-close. The statue originally stood in the Piazza della Signoria, but was moved to this more protected environment in 1873.

A copy now stands in the piazza. Also here are Michelangelo’s muscular Prisoner statues and Florentine artworks from the 13th to 16th centuries.

Price

adult/reduced €8/4, incl temporary exhibition €12.50/6.25

Hours

8.15am-6.50pm Wed-Thu & Sat-Sun, to 10pm Tue & Fri

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Location

Via Ricasoli 60
Florence, Italy

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Boboli Gardens

Florence_Boboli Gardens Fountains

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Behind the massive Pitti Palace lies the enormous Boboli Gardens – both were once the private domain of Florence’s ruling Medici family, but today they’re both open to the public. The Boboli Gardens are not only typical of formal Italian gardens of the 16th century – they’re actually some of the earliest examples of the style.

Along with the manicured lawns, blooming plants, and fountains that you’d expect from a garden, these also have a fine collection of 16th-18th century sculptures on display in different parts of the grounds. The Boboli Gardens were originally started for the wife of Cosimo I de Medici in the 1540s, and were added to later in the 16th century and again in the 17th century.

Notable features include tree-lined pathways, sculpture-filled grottos, and an amphitheater with an Egyptian obelisk at its center.

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Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

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The ancient Ponte Vecchio bridge is as much a symbol of Florence as the red dome of the Duomo. Ponte Vecchio means old bridge, and indeed it dates back to the 14th century.

The three-arched bridge is picturesquely lined with several stories of jewelry shops and market stalls. It’s one of the most popular places in Florence for taking a stroll or just hanging out, and the decorative central arches are picture-perfect spots for snapping photos of Florence.

Running across the top of the Ponte Vecchio is part of the famous Vasari Corridor, built for the ruling Medicis by the Renaissance painter and designer Vasari. T

he private enclosed walkway leads from the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi Museum, across the top of the bridge to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the river.

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San Miniato al Monte

Florence_San Miniato al Monte

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There are so many churches worth visiting right in the streets of central Florence that you might think it’s no big deal to skip San Miniato al Monte, sitting as it does high above the city in the hills.

But couple the fact that it’s an incredibly beautiful church with the fact that you’re rewarded for your uphill efforts with some of the finest views of Florence and you’ll see why it’s such a highly recommended stop.

The church of San Miniato al Monte was started in the early 11th century on the site where Saint Miniato is said to have died. The interior of the church features beautiful multi-colored marble and a sparkling 13th century mosaic over the altar.

The remains of Saint Miniato are said to be in the church’s crypt, but there is only one tomb in the church itself – that of Cardinal James of Lusitania, who was the Portuguese ambassador in Florence in the 15th century. There is a monastery next to San Miniato al Monte, where the monks produce the sought-after honey and liqueur.

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Central Market (Mercato Centrale)

Central Market (Mercato Centrale)

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Designed by the renowned architect Giovanni Mengoni in the late 19th century, Florence’s Mercato Centrale is a cavernous, two-storey market hall that’sl full of Tuscan foods.

The biggest market in the city, on the outside it’s all iron and lots of glass. Enter on the ground floor to see rows and rows of meats and cheeses including mounds of fresh buffalo mozzarella, and food bars where you can stop for a snack or a panini. The northern corner’s where to buy fish and shellfish, while the second floor is given over to vegetable stands.

All kinds of foods can be bought here, from fresh bread to pasta and pizza, gelato and chocolate. There’s also the popular Chianti Classico wine store, which you can arrange to have any wine you buy shipped home. You can also sign up for wine tasting classes or head to the market’s cooking school.

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Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio (Sant’Ambrogio Market)

Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio (Sant’Ambrogio Market)

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Florence’s most famous and popular market is the aptly named Mercato Centrale – but it’s by no means the only market in the city.

Another ideal spot to pick up picnic supplies, see what’s fresh before you browse local menus or simply enjoy the colors of an Italian food market is the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio (Mercato Alimentare Sant’Ambrogio).

Also known as the Sant’Ambrogio Market, the site is home to stalls that sell many of the same sorts of items seen at the Mercato Centrale – fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, fish, cheese, spices and other sundry pantry essentials. In a couple areas of the market, you’ll also find vendors selling clothing and household items.

Because the Mercato Centrale is the more famous market, the Mercato Alimentare Sant’Ambrogio offers a slightly less touristy experience. It’s in the historic center, so it’s unlikely to be tourist-free, but you may find more locals than visitors browsing here.

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Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

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Despite the name, Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo has nothing to do with opera music – “opera” also being the Italian word for creative works, in this case the artwork that was once inside the cathedral.

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is located conveniently right behind the Duomo, for which most of its collection was originally created. Inside you’ll see an unfinished Michelangelo pieta that he had apparently started as a piece to decorate his own tomb. He was later so unhappy with it that he broke it, but it was later put back together by a new owner. The face of Nicodemus is said to be a self-portrait of the sculptor.

Other highlights of the museum collection are Ghiberti’s original bronze panels from Florence’s Baptistery. The doors you see on the Baptistery today are excellent reproductions, but the originals are kept in air-tight containers to prevent further damage.

Price

adult/child incl cathedral bell tower, cupola & baptistry €15/3

Hours

9am-7pm

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Location

Piazza del Duomo 9
Florence, Italy

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Pitti Palace Palatine Gallery

Pitti Palace Palatine Gallery

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One of the grandest sweeps of architecture in Florence, the Pitti Palace was built in the 15th century. Its gallery includes a huge collection of paintings dating from the 15th to 17th century, and occupying the whole left wing of the first floor, one of the most significant groups of works is by Titian and Raphael.

You’ll also see important works by Rubens, including the Four Philosophers and the Allegory of War, and pieces by Caravaggio and Velazquez. In fact, there are over 500 works on show in all.

And it’s not just canvases that you’ll see; the Palatine Gallery is also known for its frescoes. Laid out according to the personal tastes of its collectors from the House of Medici, rather than by painting school or by chronological order, the gallery has been open to visitors since the day Leopold I of Lorraine opened it back in 1828. There is also a cafe in the courtyard of the Pitti Palace.

Hours

8.15am-6.50pm Tue-Sun

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Location

Piazza dei Pitti
Florence, Italy

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Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica

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The Piazza della Repubblica is a public square in the center of Florence that sits on some of the city’s most important historic sites.

It was once the city’s Roman Forum — then subsequently its market and old ghetto, after the forum was extensively built over in the early Middle Ages. The present square was established in the 19th century Risanamento during the period in which Florence was briefly the capital of a reunited Italy.

The expansion of the square meant the demolition of many significant structures.

The square was revitalized after the war, and today is the home to many street performers and artists as well as historic literary cafes and traveling exhibitions. Sitting in the piazza you can see the Colonna dell’Abbondanza (Column of Abundance) and the Arcone, the most prominent remaining structures of the past.

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Medici Riccardi Palace (Palazzo Medici Riccardi)

Medici Riccardi Palace (Palazzo Medici Riccardi)

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Forming part of the UNESCO World-Heritage Listed Historic Centre of Florence, Palazzo Medici Riccardi on Via Cavour was designed by Michelozzo in the mid 15th century for the all-powerful Medici family, who then sold it on to the equally rich Riccardi clan in 1659.
The palazzo has been the property of the Italian state since 1874 and despite its rather stolid appearance, with rough-hewn blocks of stone used on the lower floors, it is considered a masterpiece of early Renaissance architecture. Built around Michelozzo’s lovely arcaded and colonnaded central courtyard, much of the palace operates as an art museum, featuring a chronological journey through art in Florence.
Among the temporary exhibitions, richly furnished apartments and two libraries of rare tomes (entrance to the latter two is on Via Ginori), the palazzo’s magnificent Galleria features Baroque paintings under a wildly frescoed ceiling by Luca Giordano but the highlight of a visit is Benozzo Gozzoli’s sublime jewel-like fresco in the first-floor Cappella dei Magi; he painted The Procession of the Magi in 1459 and it works its way around three of the chapel’s four walls. Various members of the Medici dynasty feature in the procession following the kings, who are clad in sumptuous robes and sit on fine horses. Due to the chapel’s diminutive size, numbers allowed in are limited to 10 visitors every seven minutes.

Price

adult/reduced €7/4

Hours

8.30am-7pm Thu-Tue

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Location

Via Cavour 3
Florence, Italy

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Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi

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Palazzo Strozzi may not be one of Florence’s most popular museums, but those in the know say this fine example of Renaissance architecture is a must-see spot in Italy for art, history and Italian culture.

What was constructed during the late 1400s as a residence for the Strozzi family, later became one of the largest temporary exhibition spaces in the city, drawing private collections from across the globe to the halls of this Florence destination.

In addition to galleries and halls jam-packed with ancient art, frescos and contemporary design, Palazzo Strozzi offers travelers and locals new and unique ways to engage with art. The scenic courtyard hosts free concerts, movie nights and cultural activities in warmer months, while permanent touch-screen installations showcase the history of the museum for those interested in learning more.

Price

adult/reduced €12/9.50

Hours

10am-8pm Tue, Wed & Fri-Sun, to 11pm Thu

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Location

Piazza degli Strozzi
Florence, Italy

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Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

museo-salvatore-ferragamo

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Even if you’re not a fashion addict, you’ve likely heard of one of Italy’s many fashion icons – Salvatore Ferragamo. Not every visitor to Italy can afford to bring home Ferragamo designer shoes, but you’ll be pleased to know that anyone can check out the historic collection of his shoes at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum.

The Ferragamo Museum, opened in 1995, is housed in the Palazzo Spini Feroni on Piazza Santa Trinita, a 13th century former residential palace that Ferragamo bought in the 1930s to serve as his company headquarters and workshop.

The museum’s collection started with a staggering 10,000 shoes created by Ferragamo from the 1920s until 1960, and has grown after his death. Exhibits are rotated every couple of years, and there are also temporary exhibits on display from time to time.

Price

adult/child €6/free

Hours

10am-7.30pm

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Location

Via de’ Tornabuoni 2
Florence, Italy

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Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria

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Florence’s spacious Piazza della Signoria has long been one of the city’s main meeting points. The Palazzo Vecchio, which anchors one side of the square, was once home to the rulers of the Florentine Republic, and today still serves as the city’s town hall. This square, then, was often used by those seeking favor (or protesting) their government.

Today, the Palazzo Vecchio houses a museum along with the town hall, and the Piazza della Signoria is lined with other major attractions. In front of the Palazzo Vecchio you’ll find a copy of Michelangelo’s famous “David” statue (in the place where the original once stood). The open-air gallery that is the Loggia dei Lanzi contains a collection of sculptures. And to one side of the Palazzo Vecchio is a fountain with a huge statue of Neptune.

The Piazza della Signoria was the site of the 14th century “Burning of the Vanities” led by the monk Savonarola, and it’s also where Savonarola was later hanged.

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San Lorenzo Market

San Lorenzo Market

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When you hear people talk about shopping in the San Lorenzo Market, there are actually two markets they may be referring to. One is the popular-with-tourists outdoor market full of leather goods as well as Tuscan and Florentine souvenirs.

The other is right next to the street market, but it’s indoors with food vendors selling everything from meat and fish to vegetables and bread. Both are worth visiting.

The indoor San Lorenzo Market – more commonly known as the Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo – has two floors of food stalls, and it’s an excellent place to stroll through if you’re wondering what ingredients are fresh and seasonal (and therefore what you should look for on menus) or picking up supplies for a picnic or the kitchen in your rented apartment.

Some of the deliciousness can be brought home as souvenirs, too, although be sure you know your country’s laws regarding bringing meats and cheeses back home before you spend the money on something that may get confiscated.

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