Florence is a very pretty Italian city, and its certainly full of attractions. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, Florence or Firenze has lots of beautiful Renaissance architecture, monuments, statues, art galleries and museums. Whilst it’s not my favourite city in Italy (that title has to go to Venice) it is most certainly loved my many, many visitors.
My first time to Florence I was staying out in the Tuscan countryside and visited the city just for the day to do some basic sightseeing. Florence is the main gateway for exploring Tuscany, and if you have the time you should definitely explore the region and perhaps even do a wine tour. Finding cheap accommodation in the city can be tricky during the height of summer, so its worth checking out Florence short term apartment rentals.
For anyone visiting Florence for the first time, these are the top 5 attractions in Florence:
1. Ponte Vecchio
One of the most famous bridges in the world, the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence that wasn’t destroyed by the Germans in World War II, supposedly because Hitler liked it. Spanning the narrowest point of the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio used to be occupied by butchers shops but now has lots of jewellery and souvenir shops along it.
2. Il Duomo
The Duomo (Cathedral) in Florence, officially called Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, has a beautiful marble façade with shades of pink, green and white, along with an impressive ‘octagonal’ Renaissance dome. The Gothic Cathedral was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1294, but construction was only completed in 1436, when architect Filippo Brunelleschi added the dome. The Duomo complex features the Duomo, the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. A tour of the dome will take you to see the impressive frescoes, including the incredible fresco of The Last Judgement, and the outdoor views over Florence.
3. Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is Florence’s most famous square and has been the centre of political life in Florence since the 14th century. It is the main meeting point for both locals and tourists, and features several statues by famous Florentine artists. The statue of Michelangelo’s David is a copy, and the original is in the Accademia.
4. Galleria Degli Uffizi
The Galleria degli Uffizi gets very very busy because it contains the world’s most important Renaissance works of art. The Uffizi museum contains works from artists such as Botticelli, Caravaggio, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt and Michelangelo to name just a few. In high season the queues for the Uffizi can be very long, so it would be wise to buy tickets in advance.
5. Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace
If you cross the River Arno over the Ponte Vecchio you’ll come to Palazzo Pitti, a huge Palazzo that was originally built for the Pitti family, but was bought by the Medicis in 1548, and functioned as the royal residence of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Today it houses several important museums of interest such as the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments, the Silver Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Porcelain Museum and the Costume Gallery. The Giardinio di Boboli is a beautiful green park area with gardens, fountains and views over Florence.