Florence is one of those gorgeous cities that needs no introduction. It’s a charming city, perfect for a city break and a place you’ll definitely want to return to.
After a 40-minute train ride from Bologna, we arrived in Florence, where we stayed for two days.
What did we visit for two days in Florence?
Santa Maria del Fiore or Duomo di Firenze is the third largest cathedral in the world (after St. Peter‘s in the Vatican and St. Paul‘s in London) and was the largest church in Europe when it was completed in the 15th century. The cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin of the Flower – Santa Maria del Fiore and is one of the most important tourist attractions in Florence .
The Cathedral Dome or Brunelleschi’s Dome is an architectural marvel that took 16 years to complete and is the largest brick dome in the world.
The cathedral is free to visit, but I recommend going early because there is a huge queue at the entrance. To climb the dome and Giotto’s bell tower you need a ticket and an appointment in advance and you need to buy the Brunelleschi Pass, which costs €30/person (includes the Duomo Chapel + Baptistery + Belfry + Opera del Duomo + Santa Reparata). To enjoy the panoramic views you have to climb 463 steps (92 meters) on the dome and 414 steps (82 meters) to the top of the tower.
Giotto’s bell tower is one of the four main monuments in Piazza del Duomo and is separate from the cathedral building. From above you can admire the splendid dome of the cathedral. The tower is the most eloquent example of 14th-century Gothic architecture in Florence. It is clad in white, red and green marble, like the dome, and is considered to be the most beautiful tower in Italy.
The Baptistery of Florence, also known as the Battistero di San Giovanni is opposite Santa Maria del Fiore and the Campanile di Giotto.
The baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style, and is famous for its bronze doors with relief carvings.
Michelangelo called the eastern doors the “Gates of Paradise”. Other important Italian figures such as Dante Alighieri and members of the Medici family were baptized in this building.
Santa Reparata is a major archaeological excavation under the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore that brought to light the remains of the ancient Basilica of Santa Reparata. The foundation of the basilica is supposed to be the result of an oath, in thanksgiving for the Christian victory over Radagaisus, king of the Goths, around 405 AD.
If you want to see the famous artwork of the famous Michelangelo, you must visit the Galleria dell’Accademia. Although the Galleria dell’Accademia displays more historical artwork than you’ll find in most major cities, this museum seems like it was created specifically to showcase David.
Next to the statue of David, there are other unfinished statues of the artist. Michelangelo said that the bodies were already in the marble, and he was helping them to surface. The ticket costs €12/person and if you want to buy it online you have to pay an additional fee of €4.
Piazzale Michelangelo is a square on the south side of the Arno River and the right place to admire Florence from the hill.
It’s about a 30-minute walk from Ponte Vecchio to Piazzale Michelangelo, but it’s well worth it. And you’d better get there about an hour before sunset and pick a good spot, because the area fills up pretty quickly.
The Cappelle Medicee houses the vaults where the bodies of the Medici family rest. The interior is gorgeous, awash in marble and glittering jewels, and the chapel houses some of the most beautiful statues sculpted by none other than Michelangelo.
It is a less visited place, although little do I know that it has the second largest dome in Florence and is a true work of art. The ticket costs €9/person.
Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is a former 16th century pharmacy founded by Dominican monks.
The interior is decorated with frescoes and chandeliers, and you can purchase creams, perfumes and even pet products.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella dates back to the 14th century and is the result of almost two centuries of work. When you arrive in front of the church, you will notice the incredible marble that decorates its facade in shades of cream and green. Inside, the church is a veritable museum, housing works of art and historic architecture. Known as one of the most important and spectacular Gothic churches in all of Tuscany, Santa Maria Novella presents an exceptional beauty that is not to be missed. The ticket costs €7.5/person.
While Florence has plenty of gorgeous markets to explore, there are some that really stand out. One of them is Piazza della Signoria.
The square is full of statues, and among the most important are the 500-year-old Fountain of Neptune, Perseus with the head of Medusa and the replica of the statue of David.
Also in Piazza della Signoria is the Palazzo Vecchio, the famous building from which the Medici family ruled. The main attractions are the Salone dei Cinquecento and Dante’s death mask. We didn’t visit the museum inside, but if you want to enter, the ticket price is 17€/person.
Near the Piazza della Signoria is the Piazza del Mercato Nuovo with the famous bronze Statuette of the Boar, Fontana del Porcellino. Legend has it that you have to stroke his nose, then put a coin in his mouth and if it falls into the channel below you will be lucky.
The Galleria degli Uffizi is another main attraction of Florence. It’s a Renaissance art museum and a must-see if you’re into classical art. The Galleria degli Uffizi is one of the most visited art museums in the world and the most visited in Italy. It takes 2-3 hours to visit it. The ticket costs €20/person.
Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge spanning the Arno River. The bridge is full of many expensive jewelry, watch and leather shops. It is a place full of life and visitors, so expect big crowds.
Along the bridge, above the shops, is the Corridor Vasari, built by the Medici family, connecting Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio, passing through the Uffizi Galleria.
For a great view of the Old Bridge and for some pictures go to Ponte alle Grazie.
Giardino di Boboli are the gardens laid out by the Medici family behind the Pitti Palace, one of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces and museums in Florence. The gardens are a delight of fountains, sculptures, caves, staircases and paths, all conceived and designed by some of the city’s most influential architects and artists. The ticket costs €13/person and includes entrance to the Bardini gardens. We had tickets bought in advance, but when we got there the gardens were closed and they refunded us part of the money.
Another great achievement of the artistic world is the Church of San Lorenzo. This building with its unfinished facade and rustic appearance was once the cathedral of Florence. The church held the title of “dome” for about 300 years.
Another square worth a stop is Piazza della Repubblica. Hundreds of years ago it was a Jewish ghetto, and today it attracts tourists and locals who enjoy an espresso in one of the small cafes.
The Basilica di Santa Croce is an important church of the city and is nicknamed the “Pantheon of Florence“. Not because of its architecture, but because many Italian personalities are buried in Santa Croce. Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, composer Gioachino Rossini and Guglielmo Marconi are just a few of the famous people who found their resting place here. The ticket costs €9/person.
We thought two days were enough to visit Florence, then we took the train to Rome. If you have a few extra days and want to visit Tuscany, you can easily reach Siena, Pisa or San Gimignano. Guided tours are also organized directly from Florence.
(Florence – August 2022)