Florence, an open air museum

Florence, or Firenze in Italian, is the capital of Tuscany and it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. It is a must visit place for art lovers but as it attracts millions of tourists every year and it is a quite small city, easily visited on foot, bear in mind it will be mostly crowded. The most visited sights of the city are its churches, especially the Cathedral (Duomo), its squares, Uffizi Gallery, Pitti Palace and Ponte Vecchio (the old bridge).

I visited Florence for a 2 day trip travelling there from Rome but would love to go back and spend more time exploring its beauties. Arriving in Santa Maria Novella Main station already gives you the impression you are about to enjoy some great architecture.

One of the most visited squares, Piazza della Signoria is just a short walk from the train station.

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Medici Statue, Piazza della Signoria

Pallazzo Vecchio, the Fountain of Neptune and a reproduction of Michelangelo’s statue ‘David’ are the main attractions in this square while the entrance to the famous Uffizi Gallery, the world-famous art Museum is also on this square. To avoid the long queues book a ticket for Uffizi Gallery online and you will have the chance to see the largest collection of Italian Renaissance works.

 

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Entrance Gate for Uffizi Gallery

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Fountain of Neptune

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Palazzo Vecchio (The Old Palace)

The main square of Florence is Piazza del Duomo (The Cathedral Square) where 3 grandiose buildings are situated, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or Duomo with Brunelleschi’s Cupola, the Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower) and the Florence octagonal Baptistery, all of them part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. When looking around in Piazza del Duomo it feels like the time has stopped in the Renaissance period.

Tip for the daring and not claustrophobic ones: climbing the 414 steps of the Bell tower will compensate you with an amazing view of the Cupola and the city, especially when the sun goes down.

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Florence Baptistery and Bruneleschi’s Cupola

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The Florence Cathedral and Giotto’s bell tower

Arno river flows through the city and Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge is the most interesting of all the bridges that connect the two parts of the city. The bridge is closed and has several shops along it, mostly jewellery, art and souvenir shops. The view to Ponte Vecchio from Santa Trinita bridge is worth a walk there during day or night time.

 

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Ponte Vecchio

 

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Ponte Vecchio

 

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Santa Trinita Bridge

On the south side of the river, Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti), the largest museum complex in Florence is worth a visit. The part I enjoyed the most about it was the Boboli Gardens, right behind the Palace, decorated with beautiful fountains and statues.

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There are so many churches to visit in the city you really won’t know where to start from. I would recommend visiting Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, Santa Maria Novella and San Marco church.

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San Marco Church

 

For a panoramic view to the heart of the city, Arno river and the bridges crossing it, you should visit Piazzale Michelangelo, a square built on a hill south of the historic center. The square where some copies of Michelangelo’s statues are to be found, can be accessed by car or by walking up the stairs or the ramps from Piazza Giuseppe Poggi.

There is not a particular dish to try that you won’t find somewhere else in Italy but you should try local wines, the most famous of them being Chianti, as Tuscany region is well known for its vineyards. Pizza and ice cream (gelatto) are delicious in Florence.

Florence airport is just 5 km from the city center, in case you prefer low cost airlines you can land at Pisa airport which is just book a ticket to Pisa airport which is 80km away. The trip by train from Rome is 1.5 hour and from Bologna just 30 minutes in case you would like to visit it coming from another city in Italy.

A daytrip to Tuscany countryside is also recommended and there are numerous agencies organising such trips if you do not like the idea of renting a car. You will need at least 3 days to see the most important sights of the city.

Have you ever been to Florence? Which is your favourite place in this city?

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