If you love browsing famous artworks and seeing amazing architecture, Florence is a fantastic holiday destination to choose. There are virtually too many incredible attractions in this city to list, so, to help you decide to what to see, I’ve tried to pick out some of my favourite spots to visit.
Florence – an introduction
Before I let you in on some of Florence’s must-sees, I’ll just tell you a few quick facts about the city. First of all, you’ll find it perched in north-eastern Tuscany (a gorgeous region of Italy – if you have time, it’s well worth visiting some other Tuscan destinations while you’re here, like Pisa and Arezzo). There are plenty of swish places to stay, but luckily for those of us on a budget, Florence has plenty of discount hotels too.
Secondly, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous the world over for its Renaissance art, both in terms of architecture and the pieces on display in its many galleries. Plus, it’s also a fabulous place for foodies. Don’t miss trying the gelato – eating proper Italian ice cream in the sunshine of Florence is a real experience!
Ok, so, let’s get on to the top attractions now – some of which you’re likely to have heard of. We’ll begin with the most famous, which is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – often referred to simply as the Duomo. Nestled at one side of the Piazza del Duomo, this vast cathedral is topped with a colossal orange dome that makes it impossible to miss. So, you needn’t worry about not being able to find your way!
One of the world’s largest cathedrals, the Duomo is widely considered to be a masterpiece of Florentine Romanesque architecture. Coming face-to-face with its green, white and red marble facade, you are pretty much guaranteed to be impressed.
Inside, you’ll be able to see several works of art (including the celebrated fresco Dante and His Worlds), but bear in mind many have been moved to the museum next door. So, if you’re really interested in seeing some of the building’s relics, you should plan to pop in here too.
If you have time, I’d definitely recommend climbing the stairs up to the top of the dome – yes, it’s a bit of an effort, but you do get to see amazing ceiling artwork up close and, once you get outside, a fantastic view of the city.
Galleria degli Uffizi
Next on your list should be the Galleria degli Uffizi, which is one of the world’s most important museums and a real treasure trove of Renaissance art. There is a huge 1,500-plus works on display here, but what’s more impressive is that the majority of them can be considered masterpieces.
Among the works on display are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, The Adoration of the Magi by Da Vinci and Medusa by Caravaggio. What you do need to be aware of before you come, though, is that long queues to get in – and then, once inside, packed galleries – are pretty much inevitable. So, be prepared to be patient!
My next must-see is another gallery, this time the Galleria dell’Accademia. Much smaller than the Uffizi, this establishment was built especially to house a single artwork – Michelangelo’s David. And, to this day, this is what the vast majority of people come here to see.
That said, these days there is more on display than David alone (nice to see he has some company, really!). The collection now includes more sculptures, including the Prisoners and the St Matthew (both by Michelangelo), as well as plaster sculptures by 19th-century artists, such as Lorenzo Bartolini.
You can also browse several rooms home to 14th-century paintings, in addition to a collection of Russian icons. The queues to get in here tend to be fairly long, but not to the same extent as those at the Uffizi, you’ll be pleased to hear.