Are you planning to visit Florence soon? Doesn’t matter if you stay for a day or a week, here are the 10 most important places in Florence you cannot miss. If it is your first time in the cradle of the Renaissance these are the things to do in Florence.
The very 10 Most Important Places in Florence
1. Santa Maria del Fiore, or simply the Duomo
The symbol of Florence par excellence dominates the skyline of the city. People simply call it Duomo. It’s the largest masonry dome in the world made by Filippo Brunelleschi and is dated back to 600 years ago. In front of Santa Maria del Fiore, it’s impossible not to be astonished by its amazing Gothic façade of green, white, and red marble. And what about the interiors with majestic decorating like mosaics, stained-glass windows, bronze statues, and frescoes? From the top of the dome is possible overlooking the entire Florence and its surroundings. The wonderful picture telling of the center of Florence is completed by Giotto’s bell tower and the Baptistery with its golden door.
2. Most Important Places in Florence: the Ponte Vecchio
After the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio is another of the most important places in Florence and, one of the most photographed and oldest bridges in the world. At first, the bridge was built by the ancient Etruscans, but in the 14th century was rebuilt by the Florentines. It is famous for its arches and the jewelry shops that flank it on both sides. We suggest you a walk on the bridge when the lights reflect a beautiful image on the water’s surface.
3. The Main Museums of Florence
The Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi is one of the most important art museums in the world. The palace that hosts the museum originally was the house of the office of the magistrate of Florence, just off Piazza della Signoria. After the Medici family lost their power, the palace becomes an art gallery. Doors opened in 1765 showing an amazing collection of Renaissance art treasures, that opened its doors in 1765. Here is where you could stare at Michelangelo Buonarroti, Titian, Sandro Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci’s artworks.
The Galleria dell’Accademia
The Galleria dell’Accademia is famous to hosts the masterpiece of the Master of the Renaissance, the marvelous Michelangelo’s David. Enter the Accademia Gallery skipping the line and discover Michelangelo’s David with an art historian guide.
You can also decide to get deeper into the life of Michelangelo by taking a half-day guided tour and visiting the Casa Buonarroti, the Bargello Museum, and of course the Galleria dell’Accademia. Here is our experience.
4. Most Important Places in Florence: Piazza della Signoria
This beautiful square in the past was not only the site of several historic episodes, but it was also an important center for political affairs. It hosts even today some of the major attractions of Florence. From here you can easily reach the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio or just admire the important buildings around like Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Uguccioni, and the Loggia dei Lanzi. How not advise you about all the sculptures you can find here, such as the copy of Michelangelo’s David (the original is in the Accademia Gallery), Perseus with the Head of Medusa, the magnificent Fountain of Neptune and the Hercules and Caucus.
5. Palazzo Vecchio & The Arnolfo Tower
Palazzo Vecchio is one of the most iconic buildings in Florence. This palace overlooking Piazza della Signoria was built during the 12th century. It housed the Medici family until they relinquished their power, as the supreme governing body of the city for six centuries. Since 1872 Palazzo Vecchio has been hosting the city hall and a museum. This place deserves a visit especially for its beautiful frescoes, intricate carving, and tapestries depicting all historical and Biblical events, plus all the painted ceilings, and sculptures. In a few words, a wealth of artifacts and artworks.
6. San Lorenzo Basilica & The Medicean Chapels
This is one of the oldest churches of Florence and is the burial place of the principal members of the Medici family. To reach this church you have to move into the main market district. The “inventor of perspective”, Filippo Brunelleschi, designed the church in the 15th century, and it represents one of the first examples of ecclesiastical Renaissance architecture. Unfortunately, the façade of the church has never seen his completion. This is why you could probably consider it a bit rustic, but just try to enter inside and you will experience a “jaw-dropping” because its interior is a pure Reinassance neo-classical artwork!
7. Palazzo Pitti & Boboli Gardens
This huge palazzo, situated on the south bank of the Arno River, dates back to the 15th century. A lovely corner of quietness. Until 1919 it was the residence of Florence’s rulers. Then the Palace was transformed from a Royal residence into a historic residence owned by the State after Italy became a Republic. Palazzo Pitti overlooks Florence from an elevated site and still contains all its noble and luxurious atmosphere thanks to its private collections. Feel like a member of the Medici Family visiting Palazzo Pitti and its decorated room with this tour.
The Medici Family financed the creation of Boboli Gardens in the 16th century. They were looking to astonish the visitors with the incredible beauty of this garden. You easily find it just behind the Palazzo Pitti. They are also included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list together with other Medici Villas and Gardens. It’s here that you can find a bit of peace and quietness. Lose yourself in the various Italianesque garden, admiring the various fountains and statues, and some Roman antiquities.
8. Piazza Santa Croce
The piazza is one of the most important places in Florence. It hosts the Basilica di Santa Croce and many aristocratic buildings. Originally this area was a real island in the Arno River. In late 1200, Franciscans chose this area to build their house because it was isolated from the rest of the city. Being huge with a regular shape, during the Renaissance, it became the ideal place where organize festivals, knights’ carousels, and games, such as the Calcio Storico Fiorentino which still takes place every June. If you wish to discover the treasures of the Cathedral, read the post about our visit to Santa Croce to get a small taste of it.
9. Piazzale Michelangelo
You cannot leave Florence without admiring its beauty from the Piazzale. One of the best panoramas in the world will leave you breathless. To reach the Piazzale Michelangelo, you can climb the hill starting from the Lungarni in the suburb of San Nicolò. You can also get the buses n. 12 or n. 13. If you have a car you can drive through the Viale dei Colli, one of my favorite boulevards in Florence. The road runs on the San Miniato hill and it represents the rebirth of the bourgeoisie.
10. Most Important Places in Florence: The New Market
Close to the large Piazza della Repubblica with a few bars and the carousel, you can visit the covered New Market called Nuovo Mercato. It takes this name to distinguish it from the “Mercato Vecchio” (Old Market). Initially, this was the place where merchants sold famous straw hats and luxury goods such as silk. Instead, today the New Market is the place to be if you are looking for souvenirs and leather goods. A legend says that if rub the nose of the pig (actually it looks like more a wild boar than a pig) the “Fontana del Porcellino” (Piglet Fountain) will ensure to return to Florence at least another time in your life. So, do not forget to do it. If you are curious to see the original statue dated back to the 16th century, visit Palazzo Pitti.
Now that you discovered the most important places in Florence, visit the town in a different way following tips that our Aussie friend Anne collected in this post called 10 unusual things to do in Florence.