Florence is one of Italy’s most visited cities. Delectable food, magnificent shopping and some of the most beautiful works of art in the world. I have visited Florence a few times but always on very short trips so I still feel the need to experience more of it. Florence does not disappoint, plenty to see and do. I would also love the opportunity to explore more of the Tuscan towns, which make great day trips from Florence. I have been to Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano, which are all breathtakingly beautiful as well. On our last trip we were fortunate to stay within the pedestrian area of Florence in the beautiful Hotel Calzaiuoli. Our room was spacious and very comfortable, not to mention it had a magnificent view of the Duomo from our window. Staying in this area was wonderful as we were a very short walk from all of the sights.
Lobby of Hotel Calzaiuoli
View of the Duomo from our room window
Piazzale Michelangelo is my favorite place to visit in the city. Not only can you catch a perfect sunset here, but the 19th century piazza has the absolute best panoramic view of Florence. The square is decorated with copies of Michelangelo’s sculptures, but it’s truly the view people come here to see.
Enjoying this view!
Views of this amazing city from Piazzale Michelangelo
View of Ponte Vecchio
Duomo & Giotto’s Campanile
The Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Virgin of the Flower), nicknamed the Duomo after the enormous octagonal dome on its east end, is the cathedral of Florence and considered by many as the birthplace of the Renaissance. There are many other Catholic churches in Florence, many of them associated with the Renaissance, including Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, and the Brancacci Chapel. However, the Duomo is the home church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence and the third largest church in the world (after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London).
The Duomo dominates the Florentine landscape and can be easily spotted throughout the city. Whether you are seeing it from the outside or inside, it is truly a beautiful piece of architecture not to be missed. Now I will warn you that if you are visiting during the peak of the summer months, the lines to enter the Duomo can stretch for hours in the summer heat. I strongly recommend you purchase tickets in advance.
The front of the Cathedral
Artwork inside of the dome.
Once at the Duomo you must also visit Giotto’s Campanile, a free-standing campanile that is part of the complex of buildings that make up the Florence Cathedral. If you are brave enough (and in shape) to climb the 144 steps to reach the very top (there are no elevators), then you will most definitely find incredible panoramic views of the city, not to mention a totally unique perspective from which you can admire the Cathedral and the Cupola of Brunelleschi (the dome).
The Galleria dell’Accademia, usually referred to as the Accademia, is without a doubt most famous for its sculptures by the great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo, primarily the magnificent statue of David within the Tribune. No doubt, most everyone visits David before leaving Florence. Again, if your time is limited, make sure you purchase advance tickets, as the wait times can be pretty long, especially during the summer.
The amazing sculpture of David.
But don’t get confused, as there is another statue of David situated right within the heart of Piazza della Signoria, however this is a replica that was placed here to protect the original. If you really want to see the original David you must visit the Accademia.
Entrance to Palazzo Vecchio on the Piazza della Signoria.
I love the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). It is the oldest bridge in Florence and possibly the most recognizable bridge in Italy. The Ponte Vecchio is full of tiny little shops and stalls mostly selling gold jewelry and it’s always pretty busy with visitors. Make sure to wander the banks of the river Arno, as you can also find beautiful views of the bridge from there as well.
On my visit in 1992.
The beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge.
And after you are finished seeing all the sights and museums, feel free to enjoy getting lost in this amazingly gorgeous city. There are so many beautiful little streets and open piazzas in Florence, with great restaurants, top designer stores, coffee shops and gelato places. Here are a few more photos from my trips:
The Church of Ognissanti (All-Saints Church)
Gelateria Perche no!… An amazing little gelato shop around the corner from our hotel selling many flavors including lavender gelato, which I loved!
Basilica of Santa Croce, another one of my favorite sights in Florence.
Views along the Arno River.
Our daughter posing by the Leaning Tower.
Duomo di Siena
Piazza del Campo in Siena, regarded as one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares.
Typical shop in Siena
View of Siena from outside the city.
Walls outside of San Gimignano.
Typical ceramic shop in San Gimignano.
Duomo di San Gimignano
Hilltop views from a side street in San Gimignano
Have you been to Florence or Tuscany? I would love to hear what some of your favorite spots are.