Florence, the English translation for “Firenze,” is a beautiful place whose name conveys the idea of this flourishing city of art, which was the cradle of the Renaissance, the cultural movement that spread throughout Europe in the 14th century. I like walking along the medieval alleys of the old town to discover its hidden corners and architectural jewels. Once there, I am sure you will, too.
Piazza del Duomo
If you don’t see the Duomo, why bother to go to Florence at all? This magnificent cathedral is the city’s most iconic building for sure. With it’s dazzling white, green and pink facade, the outside is as marvelous as the inside is surprisingly plain.
You might still want to consider paying a couple of euros to enter (prizes vary over the seasons) because it gives you a chance to climb up over 450 steps to the actual dome and get a fantastic view of the city – same goes for the neighbouring campanile, the bell tower.
Make sure to check out the Battistero with it’s green and white exterior right in front of the cathedral, where people as famous as Dante Alighieri have been baptized.
Piazza della Signora, Palazzo Vecchio and Galeria degli Uffizi
Take a stroll through the bustling streets and narrow alleys to arrive at the next piazza along your way – and what a piazza that is. The amount of history aligned in Piazza della Signora will knock you off your feet. There’s Palazzo Vecchio, or literally the Old Palace, which was built in the 13th century to host the Florentine government – and still does today. In front of it, don’t get too excited to see the David statue that everyone is snapping pictures of – it’s a copy of Michelangelo’s famous original naked man.
Speaking of originals, there’s definitely more of them to see around here, because this is where the Uffizi Gallery joins the game. If you feel like diving into Renaissance art and discovering works from all the other guys you know from the Ninja Turtles, THIS is your place.
Pre-booking your tickets is crucial, so make sure to do so online or check with your hotel. Depending on your love for arts, you can spend two hours, a full day or a whole lifetime in there, but for the sake of your Florence trip, stay until you get hungry – and make it real hungry…
Turn another few corners and you’ll find yourself faced with another jaw-dropping church, the Basilica di Santa Croce. You can get inside for a couple of bucks to discover the graves of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli along with other important men – or keep on strolling and eventually turn your steps south until you see water glistening ahead.
Arno river and Ponte vecchio
With an enjoyable view, make your way along the riverside until you hit Ponte vecchio, the “old bridge” – another of Florence’s most well-known sights. Along with the crowds (that are always there), peer into the shop windows of the jewellers while crossing. Above the bridge’s shops, you can see the Corridoio Vasariano, a passageway built in the 16th century to allow members of the elaborate Medici family to cross from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti on the other site in privacy and without having to encounter any real life poor people.
You can see Palazzo Pitti on your left as you come from Ponte vecchio onto the other side of Florence, the Oltrarno. If it’s still early, make sure to check out the palace’s beautiful garden Giardino di Boboli that is right behind.
If you’ve enjoyed the street art you’ve seen so far, you can pass Clet’s studio in Via dell’Olmo 8, as it’s just on the way to your next destination: Piazzale Michelangelo.
Be prepared to take quite a steep walk – but lucky you, the view is absolutely worth it. Up in Piazzale Michelangelo, there is not only the second copy of the David(‘s butt), but more importantly, you can see the whole city stretching out in front of you from up there. Make your way down again only after enjoying a dramatic sunset over Florence.
Florence doesn’t offer great public transportation, but you couldn’t care less. All the ways indicated in the itinerary can easily be done by walking. For a more local experience, rent out some bikes at your hotel and ride your way through the cobblestone streets.
Scams and pickpocketing are a thing, just like in every other touristy place. Being wary and using common sense should usually be enough to stay safe.
Student Journalist, Creative Writer, Poet, Traveller, Eco Warrior