Attractions in Florence
Attractions in Florence
The City’s Architecture
Without doubt the main highlight of Florence is its architecture.
The historic heart of the city is full of buildings dating back to its golden age, during Medieval times when Florence was a thriving city and the center of the Italian Renaissance.
Of course there are landmarks dating from other periods in history too, but the main ones to head for include the following:
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
(Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower), or more simply, Florence Cathedral is the chief landmark of the city, not only for its size but for its beauty.
Originally called ‘Duomo’ they started construction on this grand building in 1296 and finally finished in 1436.
Located on the Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral along with the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile are all part of the city’s World Heritage Site.
The exterior is beautiful with many fine details in the workmanship, while inside the cathedral is vast.
Be sure to climb the 414 steps to the top of the belltower. It actually stands separate to the cathedral and features wonderful Florentine Gothic architecture.
Of course, the views from the top of the campanile are breathtaking!
The River Arno crosses through Florence and among its famous bridges is Ponte Vecchio, meaning Old Bridge.
This too dates from the medieval period and what sets this bridge apart is what’s on top of it – it’s lined with shops.
Originally these would have all been butchers, now there are souvenir stores, jewellers and art dealers here.
Palazzo Vecchio, meaning ‘old palace’ is the town hall of Florence and another major landmark.
It looks more like a fortress with its small windows and battlement-like roof line.
Just outside is the replica of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue, just where the original once stood, and inside there are many works of art.
– or Pitti Palace – is another of Florence’s major landmarks.
It’s a huge palace that mainly dates from the renaissance, built in 1458 and bought by the powerful Medici family in 1549.
Has been opened to the public since 1919 and features many works of art along with the beautiful architecture itself.
Behind the palace are the popular Boboli Gardens.
This is a beautiful park that features sculptures dating from the 16th to 18th centuries and some Roman antiquities.
The Uffizi Gallery
There are numerous museums in Florence but if you have time to only visit one it must be Uffizi.
This is one of the oldest and largest art museums of the Western world.
The palace in which it’s housed was built from 1560 as the offices for the Florentine magistrates.
This is today one of the top attractions in Florence and has very long wait times during the summer.
You can reduce your wait by reserving a ticket in advance.
There are countless more churches, monuments, museums, and squares to explore too but these are the must-see highlights of a visit to Florence.
Festivals and Events
If you can tie your visit in with one of the city’s annual festivals you’ll get to enjoy even more in Florence.
There’s the Carnival early in the year (dates change each year) which includes a grand parade of floats.
March hosts the traditional Florentine New Year, and over the spring and summer months there are numerous feasts in honor of saints.
The Festival of Paper Lanterns in September is a favorite, followed the next day by the Nativity of Virgin Mary.