DO & SEE
Florence is a city that everyone loves. The city is the third most visited in Italy after Rome and Venice and it has so much to offer that a weekend is not enough. Some of its landmarks are among Italy’s icons and there are places you must see once in Florence.
From Ponte Vecchio to Brunelleschi’s Dome, from Michelangelo’s David to the Uffizi Gallery and don’t forget about the gay secrets of the city!
A WALK IN FLORENCE
Every visit to the city should start with Piazza Duomo. Its Cathedral complex is one of Italy’s finest artistic treasures. The Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral is the main church of the city and building it began in 1298. Start by walking around to admire the marble exteriors and then visit all of the complex.
During your visit of the baptistery, the Giotto’s campanile, the cathedral and the museums you will see some of the most important masterpieces of Italian Renaissance art. Brunelleschi, Donatello, Giotto and Michelangelo all worked here to make this complex so marvelous. All of this complex is in the UNESCO World Heritage list and when visiting it you understand why! Giotto’s Bell Tower is an outstanding example of a Renaissance architectural masterpiece. The first stone was laid on 1334 using geometric patterns of white marble from Carrara, green marble from Prato and red marble from Siena. The octagonal baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in the city and a perfect example of Romanesque style art: the marble façade and the intricate interior mosaics put this place on your must-see list of the city.
Continue your visit of the city with Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall in the center of Florence. In the opulent rooms and galleries of this palace there is a mix of ancient power, majestic art and rich history. From the rooms of Palazzo Vecchio, the Medici Family ruled the Republic of Florence. This Palace was built based on a project of the first town hall of Italy in Volterra, Tuscany – a city you must visit at least once. Above the entrance of the Palace there is Michelangelo’s David. This is a replica erected in 1910 and the original is preserved in the Galleria dell’Accademia. David is the masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created by the gay artist Michelangelo. Near Palazzo Vecchio one of the most important squares in Florence is Piazza delle Signoria. This was the center of power in the city and today the meeting point of locals and tourists. In the center of the square you will find the Neptune Fountain, similar to Bologna’s fountain and the Loggia dei Lanzi, an outdoor sculpture gallery.
A trip to Florence is not complete without visiting the Uffizi Gallery. This is considered one of the top art museums in the world and is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Tuscany. Its collection is outstanding both for quality and quantity. In this museum, you can find some of the most important painters of western art including Giotto, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Parmigianino. Be sure to spend some time in the Gallery as its collection of artworks is displayed in over 45 halls and in every hall priceless works of art are preserved!
One of the most recognizable icons in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio. You might be familiar with it as it is in nearly every guide about Florence. Its arches are topped with tons of shops. Be sure to visit the treasures that hide above your heads. In the rooms of Ponte Vecchio there is the famous Percorso del Principe, or as it known today, the Vasari Corridor.
Even though Florence’s Dome is the most famous Christian church of the city, there are some other churches that deserve a visit. At the top of the list there is Santa Maria Novella with its frescoes by Masaccio, Giotto, Lippi and Paolo Uccello. A visit to the convent’s shop where they sell balms and lotions is also worth a mandatory stop. Another church to visit is Santa Croce with its chapels like the Cappella Bardi, with some of Giotto’s major frescoes as well as the Cappella Peruzzi. The church also hosts Donatello’s “Christ Crucified” is one of the finest examples of Florentine Renaissance humanism. In the nave, you can find the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, the composer Rossini and Machiavelli.
You will likely need an entire day to visit the Pitti Palace complex. But once here you will be surprised at the many things Florence offers for a closer look. Make sure to visit the Royal Apartments with its rooms full of paintings by Raphael, Rubens and Tintoretto. Behind the palace you can find the Boboli Gardens that became the model for the gardens of Versailles and the royal gardens of Europe. Take a walk in this garden past the fountains and the statues to understand the real beauty of this palace.
No visit of this city is complete without a tour of the best food to eat in Florence. But if you don’t want to sit in a restaurant ordering a giant piece of Fiorentina there is a place that could make you hungry. Mercato Centrale is the enormous food market of Florence. Walking in the alleys of this market you will be immersed in the fragrances of herbs and flowers. Here you can find Tuscan olive oils, olives, cheese and candied fruits.
This café was an important meeting place for aristocratic and artists. Since 1815 the caf was the center of Florentine society and a fine clientele including della Gherardesca, Torricelli, and Corsi frequented its rooms. Today, after a restoration made by the Florentine fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, the café is back to its ancient splendor.
The Costume Gallery
In this gallery, you can find six thousand artifacts including costumes dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries. It is the first and only gallery that displays the history of fashion in Italy. It hosts a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.
The Barbini gardens are a place of silence where one can rest for a while away from the crowd. The best time to visit is in the spring when the Wisteria blooms in all its magnificence.
San Marco Church
Everyone might know the Church of San Marco in Florence; probably for its museum that today hosts a prominent collection of religious art. But no one knows that here you can find one of the gay secrets of Florence. Here, there is a tomb where the philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola lays buried with his lover. The tombstone says in Latin “Those whose live in life combined Love”.
Florence is an open-air museum and walking in its streets you will be surprised at the quantity of artworks you can see. Florence is also the city that houses one of the most famous museums in the world, The Uffizi Gallery but there are other museums that deserve a visit. Here the top museums to visit when in Florence.
The Academy Gallery is where Michelangelo’s best-known work, the David is located. The sculpture isn’t the only Michelangelo here; you can see the four unfinished slaves and the St. Matthew, also unfinished.
ADDRESS: Via Ricasoli, 58/60
The small chapel within the Santa Maria del Carmine Church is considered a masterpiece of Masolino da Panicale, who began painting the frescoes with his pupil Masaccio.
ADDRESS Piazza del Carmine 14
Masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Rubens and other painters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods are hosted in the Palatina Gallery. Its priceless collection makes the Gallery one of the best museums in Florence!
ADDRESS Piazza Pitti 1
The Vasarian Corridor is an elevated enclosed passageway up to the Ponte Vecchio which connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. The structure was built by the order of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici to the design of Giorgio Vasari. It hosts over 1000 paintings with a large collection of self-portraits including Filippo Lippi, Rembrandt, Velazquez, Delacroix and Ensor.
ADDRESS Piazzale degli Uffizzi
The Medici Chapels are two structures at the Basilica of San Lorenzo and built with the purpose of celebration within the Medici family. The Sagrestia Nuova was designed by Michelangelo and the Cappella dei Principi was built with collaboration between the family and architects.
ADDRESS: Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 6
The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum is the most well-known fashion museum in Florence. It is dedicated to the life of this Italian shoe designer and contains 10,000 models of shoes created by Ferragamo from the 1920s until his death in 1960.
ADDRESS Piazza Santa Trinità 5
The soft and gentle land of Chianti is the perfect day trip for those in love with good wine. Spend a day between cities, villages and among panoramic vineyards and Medici villas of the Chianti region. Make sure to do some wine tasting in one of the numerous vineyards where you can stop and tour the wine cellars and sample their wine.
Less than 10 km outside of Florence you can find Fiesole. This beautiful town is famous for its archeological remains: the Etruscan Walls, the Roman Baths, its amphitheater and the green hilltop where Leonardo da Vinci first experimented with the concept of flight.
The Versilia is on the Tuscan coast in the northwestern edge of the province of Lucca. This coast is famous for its beaches and for the vibrant gay life that take place in Torre del Lago every summer.
Florence has a vibrant gay nightlife and the people are very welcoming. As the city is full of tourists every place is very cosmopolitan. A good place to start the night is the Café Tabasco, the first gay bar of the city or at YAG bar. Here you can have a drink and meet many friendly guys to have fun with.
The gay life in Florence is very active from fall to spring, but in summer the best parties take place in Torre del Lago, in Versilia Coast. From discos to saunas in Florence, you will find all you need for an amazing night. Crisco Club and Hard Bar 85 are the perfect places if you love a hardcore night. But the party with the most fun in the city is The Fairy Gold at DORIS, with its 3 dance floors and drag shows.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
Florence has one main airport. Florence’s Peretola Airport is located about 4 kilometres of the city centre. But you can get to the city with trains arriving from all over Italy. The best way to travel in Florence is by foot or by bus, as the city offers an efficient public transport system.
Festivals and main events
There are a several festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Florence each year.
When you arrive in Florence get in touch with the local tourist office for more information and to help organize your stay.
Tourist Information Office – APT
Address: Via Cavour 1/R, 50129 Firenze
Telephone: +39 055 290 832