There are many possible itineraries you can choose around the city of Florence. As in the way of “all good things come in small packages”, the city is jammed with monuments and sights, most of them mercifully confined to a small area. If you have enough time to spend in the city you can go for a walk around, trying to grasp its atmosphere watching its best shortens and panoramic views. The considerable importance of Florence from age to age is proved by the hundred monuments and archaeological ruins you can still see today and they are the attestation and the heritage of a political, economic and cultural rich and complex past. There are so many of them that, unless you stay for a few weeks, you are unlikely to digest more than a modest portion. A lot of people zip around the classics more out of a sense of obligation than because they have a profound interest in Florentine art. Before you do anything, take the time to study what there is to see and make some choices following your interests to better appreciate the details and preserve good memories of this splendid city.
If your short visit to Florence is limited to a single day, or at least two, you will need to take a choice on visiting just few attractions. Perhaps you`d be better on concentrating on the grand churches, and architectural aspects rather than the paintings and frescos. You like stunning views from high? Then give priority to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, take a look inside at the immense interior spaces, the access is free. Then reach the top of Brunelleschi‘s Dome or the adjacent Giotto’s Bell tower. It is definitely recommended visiting the Baptistery of San Giovanni, in front of the Cathedral. Take a walk for the main street of the city centre, via de’ Calzaiuoli, and stop by Orsanmichele church. It was originally a grain market and become soon a church and a symbol for all the Florentine merchants.
Proceed on your itinerary until the end of via Calzaiuoli, you’ll reach a large square, Piazza Signoria, enjoy the enchanting and majestic façade of Palazzo Vecchio. Visiting Palazzo Vecchio is very important to know the story of Florence. This romanesque fortress-palace was originally the political seat of Florence, and it was circled by awesome statues. This square housed also the original statue of the David of Michelangelo then moved inside the Galleria dell’Accademia. Today the Palazzo Vecchio is the City Hall of Florence. From here, heading towards Via Borgo de ‘Greci you will arrive to the Basilica of Santa Croce, prestigious symbol of Florence.
Santa Croce is also considered to be the “Artists Phanteon” because of the graves of the “great artists” who have made the history of this city, the Basilica houses. From Santa Croce along the river Arno, you can quickly reach the Ponte Vecchio. You can admire the view of the bridge either from the itinerary that will take you to reach it along the river Arno and the panorama of the Hills around you’ll be able to see from it once you will be on it. Cross the bridge and a public bus will take you to Porta San Niccolo, a middle age tower; walking uphill for the path among the gardens of the Viale Poggi you will arrive to Piazzale Michelangelo from where you can enjoy one of the best views of the city. Walking back downhill or taking a comfortable public transport again, you can reach the old town, called by florentines “beyond the Arno”, it is the area of San Frediano. Two are the main churches worthy to be visited, Santo Spirito and the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, also renowned for its famous Chapel, the “Brancacci Chapel”, a formidable example of Renaissance painting and fruit of the collaboration of famous artists like Masaccio.
Coming now to the end of this first journey that we recommend you, you can cross the Ponte alle Grazie and head towards the Church of Santa Maria Novella. It is the first great basilica in Florence, and is the city’s principal Dominican church. The church, the adjoining cloister, and chapterhouse contain a store of art and funerary monuments. Famous are frescoes by masters of gothic and early Renaissance, financed through the generosity of the most important Florentine families, who ensured themselves of funerary chapels on consecrated ground.
If you are passionate about painting and sculpture we recommend you an itinerary that will give you the chance to have an overlook to the important museums of the City.
Following an itinerary taking you from Piazza San Marco, across the Ponte Vecchio until the Palazzo Pitti and back all the way until San Lorenzo area you’ll be able to get to know actually some of the most intenationally famous museums in the World. Leading off San Marco square, you can visit the Basilica housing the national museum. Many renowned people of cultural and spiritual importance acted here, among others Giambologna and Beato Angelico. Crossing the square, after few meters from the beginning of Ricasoli street you will arrive to the Gallery of the Accademia, home of the original sculpture of the David by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The museum also houses a large assortment of paintings by famous artists from the 14th to the 19th century. A special section of the museum nevertheless is dedicated to the history of the music, here you can see a rich collection of Stradivari supplied thanks to the contribute of the not far Cherubini Conservatory of music.
Proceeding on your journey, joining at least some of the master pieces of the itinerary we showed you before, you will reach the Bargello National Museum. Old seat of the Council of Justice and then detention and execution palace, the Bargello houses an incredibly large number of extraordinary artistic valuable sculptures. Many of them are the original statues from other renowned palaces and churches in Florence placed here for a better protection an preservation. Continuing towards the Arno river you will arrive to the east side of the Uffizi National Gallery. Move through the crowded square full of street artists to reach tea in entrance.The Uffizi National gallery is an Italian emblem worldwide known for its wide and superb collection of paintings by the most renowned artists of every Age. Just to mention some of them: Giotto, Cimabue, Masaccio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Tiziano, Pieter Paul Rubens, Francisco Goya, Caravaggio, Rembrandt,and many and many others. If you will be lucky you will be able to make a reservation for the Vasari Corridor, a long covered path that from the Uffizi Gallery go through the top of the Ponte Vecchio and a medioeval tower and then again through the Santa Felicita church until the Palazzo Pitti, built in the 15th century for the Gran Duke Cosimo I De’ Medici by Giorgio Vasari.
Across the Ponte Vecchio the mean street leads to Palazzo Pitti. This luxurious and perhaps largest Royal Residence takes its name from the noble family Pitti, rivals of the Medici family.
Pitti Palace houses several museums inside, today: the Galleria Palatina, the Monumental Apartments, the Modern Art Gallery (housing Macchiaioli works), the Argenti Museum, the Galleria del Costume (major Italian museum dedicate to fashion), the Porcelain Museum and the Carriage Museum. As if this wide range of choise would not be enough, already, from Pitti Palace you can get the access to the Boboli Gardens with a separate ticket. This famous Park is located on the back of the Palace, and it is absolutely worthy to be visited especially during the summer for its beauty and because it represent one of the best example of Italian style gardens worldwide.
Coming now to the end of this second rich itinerary through the variety and nuances of the renaissance Florence, we recommend you on last stop by the San Lorenzo area. Here you will find a symbolic and important symbol of Florentine history: the Basilica di San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels. As their name suggests, here are the chapels of the leading members of the Medici family whom dominated the city of Florence during the richest and artistically important period of Florence. Renowned artists here gave their tribute to create the statues decorating the sepulchers of this reach family, between the others Buontalenti and Michelangelo. The richness and the splendor of the inlaid decoration also gave rise to the establishment of a specila Opificio delle Pietre Dure created around the end of the 15th century.