With an abundance of museums and intricate architecture, Florence fairly holds the place of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. From museums and churches to markets and gardens, this historical, art-filled city boasts a spectacular cityscape offering a wide range of opportunities. Scroll down the page to discover the 10 things you must do in Florence.
Visit the Santa Maria Novella Church
The Church of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important Gothic churches in Tuscany. It was founded by the monks of a Dominican order. The Santa Maria Novella Church still features its original facade. Half of it (lower part) is believed to have been made by a Dominican architect, Fra Iacopo Talenti da Nipozzano and the rest by Leon Battista Alberti 100 years later. Artworks from iconic artists such as Filippo Brunelleschi and di Bondone decorate its interior halls.
See Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery
The Accademia Gallery is one of the best places to explore Italian art and learn about the culture of Florence. Artworks of prominent figures such as Michelangelo, Bronzino, Botticelli as well as masterpieces of Stradivari and Bartolomeo Cristofori are on display here highlighting the world-class Italian art. In The Hall of Prisoner, you’ll see the imposing sculpture of Michelangelo’s David. The worldwide famous statue was transferred from Piazza Della Signoria in August 1873 and it was placed in a room specially designed for it. The museum also features an entire wing dedicated to musical instruments. Here you can learn about the history of instruments and music and its connection to the Medici family, one of Italy’s most powerful families from the 15th to the 18th century.
Visit the Palace of the Strozzi family
Palazzo Strozzi is one of the most exquisite buildings in Florence. This palace belonged to the Strozzi, one of the richest families in Florence. The noble family was exiled from Florence, but once they were able to come back they wanted to have the biggest and best home in all of the city. The construction of Palazzo Strozzi started in 1489. Hence, it features 15th-century architecture and its facade is built from large slabs of stone. The stones look rough toward the bottom of the building and smoother as you look up the side of the palace. The Palazzo Strozzi focuses on giving everyone access to seeing art and holds 3 exhibitions a year, lectures, and other events.
Admire the Duomo, Florence’s Cathedral
Florence Cathedral commonly called the Duomo is one of the city’s gems and definitely a must-visit in Florence. This Gothic church stands in the same location as the remains of the 7th-century church of Santa Reparata which are still visible in the crypt of the cathedral. Arnolfo di Cambio started building The Duomo in the late 13th century while the outstanding Renaissance dome was added in the 15th century based on Brunelleschi’s design. The facade of the Florence Cathedral remained unfinished until the 19th century. Frescoes designed by Giorgio Vasari, Andrea del Castagno, Domenico di Michelino decorate the interior of the cathedral.
Take a stroll in the Bardini Gardens
This gorgeous green oasis is not only the perfect place to escape the city’s noise but it has also a very intriguing story. Originally a fruit orchard, the area was transformed into a lavish garden by the Mozzi family who owned it from 1259 to 1880. The statues and fountains that Giulio Mozzi added to the garden are still in place to this day. Stefano Bardini took over the design of the place giving it its current form. From the Bardini Gardens, you can see the city’s monuments and buildings in a panoramic view.
See Florence from above at Piazzale Michaelangelo
Built in 1869 by the Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi, Piazzale Michaelangelo is the best place in Florence to see the city from above. The remarkable terrace was initially constructed to serve as a place to host Michelangelo’s masterpieces. Though it was never used for its original purpose, it became Florence’s most outstanding viewpoint and it brims with locals and tourists throughout the whole year. Needless to mention that is also the ideal spot for Instragrammable photos. For a cup of coffee or a scrumptious meal, reserve a seat at La Loggia restaurant at the top of the piazza.
Observe the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine Church
Another must-visit spot for art lovers is the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine. A fire that broke in 1771 destroyed almost entirely this church but the Brancacci Chapel somehow survived. The chapel’s two frescoes were started by Masolini and his follower Masaccio in 1424 and were completed by Filippino Lippi in the late 1480s. Α recent restoration brought out the intensity of the original colors and showed the small differences between Masolino and Masaccio’s work. The historic chapel showcases Masaccio’s talent and it is one more evidence of Italian artists’ genius.
Go inside Florence’s most popular Baptistery
Being one the oldest religious buildings in Florence, the Baptistery of St. John has hosted religious ceremonies for many notable Renaissance figures as well as members of the Medici family. Featuring the Florentine Romanesque style, the octagonal historic building is covered in colored marble. The three bronze doors of the Baptistery of St. John are artistic masterpieces on their own. Andrea Pisano created the south doors while the north and east doors are made by Lorenzo Ghiberti. The mosaic ceiling in the interior of the Baptistery is equally impressive with the Baptistery’s facade attracting visitors’ attention.
Go shopping at San Lorenzo Market
If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir to bring back from your trip or a new leather bag to add to your collection, San Lorenzo Market is your next stop. Featuring an indoor two-level food market and an outdoor space filled with stands packed with all kinds of items, this market has a wide range of choices. Pottery, leather clothing and accessories, knickknacks, and jewelry you name it, are on sale. The indoor Mercato Centrale is for foodies eager to taste Italian delicacies and take some locals products back at home.
Walk along the Ponte Vecchio bridge
One of Florence’s most popular attractions is the legendary Ponte Vecchio. Rebuilt after a flood in 1345 and surviving World War II and another huge flood in 1966, the Old Bridge seems to have always been part of the city. Ponte Vecchio has been home to shops since the 13th century. Though in the beginning there were any kinds of stores including delicatessens, since 1593 under Ferdinand I decision only jewelers and goldsmiths would be allowed to have their shops here. Aside from the historic shops, the scenic Ponte Vecchio offers a great view of the Arno river and is the perfect spot (though usually crowded) for a morning and night walk.