Top Things to See and Do in Florence, Italy

Top 8 things to do in Florence

So it’s your first time in Florence and you don’t want to miss what this Tuscan capital has to offer? Have no fear-Go Inspired is here to make your experience one you will not forget.

1. Il Duomo

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore: Florence’s most popular site is its Duomo (cathedral), the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. The huge Gothic duomo was begun in 1296, consecrated in 1436, and holds 20,000 people. Its exterior, made of green, pink, and white marble, has several elaborate doors and interesting statues. Inside, Brunelleschi’s Dome is a masterpiece of construction. (You can buy a ticket to the top-463 steps.)

2. Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), built in 1345, was Florence’s first bridge across the Arno River and is the only surviving bridge from Florence’s medieval days (others were destroyed in World War II). The Ponte Vecchio is still lined with shops selling gold and silver jewelry. From the bridge, you’ll have a great view along the Arno River and beyond. Have a gelato while listening to live music at night.

3. Tour the Uffizi Gallery

The Galleria degli Uffizi holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art but it’s also Italy’s most crowded museum so it’s a good idea to buy tickets ahead to avoid long ticket lines. The Uffizi holds thousands of paintings from medieval to modern times and many antique sculptures, illuminations, and tapestries. Artists whose works you’ll see include Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, and Raphael. Check out http://www.uffizi.com/ for more information.

4. Galleria dell’ Academia

Florence’s Galleria dell’ Academia holds important paintings and sculptures from the 13th-16th centuries. Michelangelo’s David, probably the most famous sculpture in the world, is in the Galleria dell’ Academia as well as other sculptures by Michelangelo. You’ll also find an interesting collection of musical instruments, begun by the Medici family. Always long lines so either go early in the morning or late in the afternoon or buy tickets in advance.

5. Boboli Garden and Pitti Palace

Cross the Ponte Vecchio to the Giardino di Boboli, a huge park on a hillside in the middle of Florence behind the Pitti Palace. Here you’ll find beautiful gardens and fountains and a great view of Florence from the Forte Belvedere. Open daily at 8:15 (except some Mondays in winter) with seasonal closing times. The Pitti Palace, Florence’s largest palazzo, was once the seat of the Medici family. You can visit 8 different galleries, including art, costumes, jewelry, and apartments.

6. Piazza Michelangelo

Hike the steps to Piazza Michelangelo to get a beautiful view of Florence. During the summer, it is a great place to go to watch the sunset.

7. Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

Florence’s most famous square is Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the historic center and a free open-air sculpture exhibit. The Loggia della Signoria holds some important statues including a copy of Michelangelo’s David. The piazza has been Florence’s political center since the middle ages and Florence’s town hall, the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, sits on the piazza. The palazzo contains elaborately decorated public rooms and private apartments that can be visited. Around the piazza are cafes and restaurants.

8. Santa Croce

The largest Franciscan church in the world, sits in Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 meters from the Duomo. Originally, the site was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the final resting place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories.

Go Inspired tips

  • Shopping-you will find clothes shops as well as traditional Tuscan shops selling items from the area.
  • Eat ice cream (gelato)-Make sure you see what the price is because in many areas (like near the Ponte Vecchio) can be quite expensive. Some suggestions  are (according to http://www.florenceuncovered.com/header/food-drink/ice-cream-florence/ ):

Gelateria Alla Carraia, Nazario Sauro square, Florence. Cheap ice crem shop near River Arno: 1 € ice-cream!

Gelateria dei Neri, Via dei Neri 20-22r, Florence. Some say it is the best ice cream in Florence! Close to Ponte Vecchio and palazzo Vecchio.

Gelateria de’ Medici: It’s famous for spicy chocolate with hot pepper.

  • Walk through the leather markets-make sure you bargain!
  • Fiesole-this is a mountain town outside of Florence and provides spectacular views of Florence. Bus #7 leaves from Piazza San Marco and the train station.
  • Restaurants: There are so many great ones to choose from! One thing to be aware of is the service charge. Often, tips are included. Look carefully at the bill.
  • Trains-If you choose to take a side trip outside of Tuscany, you can purchase your train ticket at the machines in the train station (waiting in line usually takes forever). MAKE SURE YOU VALIDATE YOUR TICKET BEFORE GETTING ON BY PLACING THE TICKET INTO THE YELLOW MACHINE BEFORE GETTING ON THE TRAIN.

So join one of Go Inspired’s Italian programs -Italian Design, Commedia dell’Arte or Baroque and Renaissance Dance and you get to have an opportunity of a lifetime!

Check out the New York Times article on suggested things to do in Florence! New York Times Travel Florence, Italy

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