Florence is a great destination with probably the highest concentration of art and architecture in all of Italy. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance, the birthplace of the gelato and a city that you can visit time and time again. And these are the 9 things you must do in Florence!
Admire Michelangelo’s David
It is perhaps the most famous sculpture in the world, Michelangelo’s David. Originally the sculpture stood outside in Piazza Della Signoria, but it was replaced by a copy. You can now admire the original sculpture in the Accademia Gallery.
Armed with only a rock and a sling, the youthful David kills Goliath. Other artists have portrayed David as the victor, but Michelangelo’s David is ready to battle. His face is focused, you can see the veins in his hands and the muscles in his arms. Can you imagine that Michelangelo was only in his mid-twenties when he created this masterpiece?!
Eating gelato’s in Florence is a must. Florence is said to be even the birthplace of gelato. The Florentine Bernardo Buontalenti devised a tasty ice cream dish for the banquets that the De ‘Medici family regularly organized.
There are countless gelateries in Florence, where you can taste the most delicious ice cream. So, keep your eyes open in the city for the gelato artigianale.
Visit the most beautiful churches
Museums and galleries are not the only places in Florence where you can see masterpieces up close. The churches of Florence contain treasures that you don’t want to miss! Of course, the cathedral of Florence, with the beautiful Dom dome, or the Basilica di Santa Croce with beautiful chapels and the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo among others.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella is just as beautiful, with the striking façade of green serpentine and white marble. The San Lorenco was the parish church of the Medici family and here you can find the Medici chapels. The San Miniato al Monte is on a hill overlooking Florence, just above the Piazza Michelangelo viewpoint. It is one of the oldest churches in Florence. And in Santa Maria del Carmine you can admire Masaccio’s frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel. Enough choice!
Enjoy the view over Florence
There are many places in Florence where you have a beautiful view of the city. Three beautiful viewpoints are the dome of the Duomo of Florence, Giotto’s Campanile and the Torre di Arnolfo of the Palazzo Vecchio.
If you climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome of the Duomo, you will enjoy a spectacular view. During the climb you can see Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment in the dome from close. But be warned, it is not an easy climb and if you are claustrophobic, the narrow aisles of the Duomo may not be suitable for you.
Immerse yourself in the art of the Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery exhibits so many great works of art that you can wander around for a full day. You admire the highlights of art history. Such as the well-known Doni Tondo by Michelangelo, The Birth of Venus and the Primavera by Botticelli, the Annunciation of Da Vinci and Caravaggio’s Medusa, to name a few.
Allow yourself enough time to view everything, so that you can take a short break every now and then. There are benches in the corridors where you can sit and enjoy what you have seen. A tour of the museum is also recommended, so you can learn everything about the Renaissance and art history. Especially during the high season, it is very busy here. Order your tickets in advance.
You can rest and have a drink or light meal in the Uffizi rooftop café. You have a magnificent view of the Piazza Della Signoria here. Finally, a good tip: from the windows on the upper floors you have a nice view of the Ponte Vecchio.
Lunch at the Mercato Centrale
Not far from the Duomo di Firenze you will find the Mercato Centrale. The covered market is devoted to fresh meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and cheeses. But it is more than a market. At the Mercato Centrale you can taste all kinds of Italian specialties: pizza, fresh pasta, cold cuts and seafood, sandwiches, cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella, bread, chocolate and gelato. Or you try the trippa sandwich, stomach wall. This is Florentine street food! Make sure you are early to be ahead of the crowd.
Find peace in the gardens
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, visit one of the lush gardens in the Oltrarno district, across the Arno River.
The Boboli Gardens are right next to the Pitti Palace. The gardens are large and contain several interesting fountains and garden statues. From the highest terrace you have a wonderful view of the Pitti Palace and the city. Walk through the large amphitheater, past the granite basin of the Roman Baths of Caracalla or visit the Museo delle Porcellane. And look at the Grotta Grande through Buontalenti.
View the sunset over Florence
One of the best things to do in Florence is to see the sunset over the city. The most popular place around sunset is the Piazzale Michelangelo. Here you can see how the sun sets over the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio. But you better walk a little further to the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. Here you have an equally spectacular view with far fewer people. Come on time and explore the beautiful interior of the church or listen to the Gregorian chant of the monks.
Admire the Duomo – and everything around it
The visit to Florence will not complete without admiring the Duomo. Not only the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore, but also the Campanile (the bell tower), the Baptistery and the Museo dell ‘Opera del Duomo.
First take a moment from the piazza to look at the immense structure in pink, green and white marble. Early in the morning or in the late afternoon it is often still quiet, and you can enter without having to wait long. Throw your head in your neck and view all the details of Vasari’s Last Judgment in the Dom Dome.