13 Jun 2014 Things to do in Florence: top 10 attractions
Florence boasts a rich assortment of culture, history and architecture. To give a snapshot of what’s available, here are the top 10 attractions in Florence.
1. VISIT UFFIZI GALLERY
The renowned Uffizi Gallery originally housed offices for local magistrates. The iconic building gradually began incorporating masterpieces of Italian Renaissance, and now has an impressive collection that has been expanded continuously over the centuries. Key pieces include Michelangelo’s ‘Doni Tonda’, Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’, Botticelli’s ‘Venere’ and Raffaello’s ‘Madonna of the Goldfinch’. If you want to discover more about museums in Florence, have a look at the article Museums in Florence (and nearby): Top 7
2. CROSS PONTE VECCHIO
Another ‘must see’ when paying a visit to Florence is the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge is the typical postcard picture of this wonderful city. Lined with shops, this medieval stone structure is beautiful by day and by night, and visitors should spend some time admiring it from afar, and certainly crossing it.
3. PRAY IN SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is Florence’s main church. Completed in 1436, the Gothic structure has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. At one point, the dome was the largest in the world, and it remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. A trip to the cathedral is justifiably one of the most popular things to do in Florence.
4. MEET IN PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA
Right in the hub of Florence, the Piazza della Signoria is nestled next to the town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio. A popular meeting spot, the traditional square plays a key part in the history of the Florentine Republic, and is a wonderful spot to begin sightseeing for tourists who visit Florence. The Palazzo Vecchio is filled with impressive chambers and courtyards, and has stood proudly by the square for 700 years.
5. SEE THE DAVID OF MICHELANGELO
A common favorite amongst things to do in Florence involves witnessing Michelangelo’s David, which has been housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia since 1893. Though originally placed outside, the masterpiece was principally brought to the Galleria for conservation. The marble sculpture of David has come to have a symbolic meaning for the definition of civil liberties in Florence.
6. STROLL THROUGH PITTI PALACE AND BOBOLI GARDENS
On the south side of the river, the Pitti Palace now serves as an art museum. The Renaissance building has served many purposes over the centuries, including acting as a power hub for Napoleon, and a royal palace. In front of the palace are the Boboli Gardens, which also boast an impressive collection of sculptures. In June, visitors and locals alike visit the Pitti Uomo Fashion Show here, a renowned men’s fashion show.
7. CLIMB ON GIOTTO’S CAMPANILE
For fabulous panoramic vistas, it is worth climbing Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower) in Piazza del Duomo. The 84.7 meter high Gothic structure features a rich variety of decorations and unique architecture. The building should certainly be admired from the square, but the huge appeal for visitors who visit Florence comes from the breathtaking views following the 414-step climb!
8. BE CHARMED BY SANTA CROCE BASILICA
Another impressive church is the Basilica di Santa Croce, where many iconic Italian figures are buried, namely Michelangelo, Galileo and Rossini, amongst many others. For this reason, it is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, and, unsurprisingly, also houses an admirable art collection.
9. SHOP IN MERCATO VECCHIO
Florence is not without its share of shopping opportunities. In the San Lorezno district, the Mercato Vecchio provides an authentic feel for wanderers and shoppers alike, and the Mercato Nuovo, near the Ponte Vecchio, is a great place to purchase fine Italian leather goods. For exclusive fashion, The Mall is a great option, as well as the aptly named Fashion Valley, and Barberino Designer Outlet, accessible via a 40-minute shuttle bus from Florence (have a look at Shopping in Tuscany: best 5 fashion malls for more infos on luxury shopping in Florence).
10. EAT A FLORENTINE STEAK
And in terms of cuisine, do as the locals do, and eat a fine Florentine steak accompanied by a Tuscan red wine. The most popular local wines are Chianti, Brunello and Montepulciano, and there are many Tuscan restaurants serving delicious steaks. Local favourites include Buca Lapi, Da Burde and Brindellone, all of which provide fine dining in a wonderful Florentine setting. Don’t miss also our personal selections of Best Gourmet Restaurants in Tuscany.
Though these are the top 10 attractions in Florence, they are just an introduction to the vast array of spectacular things to do in Florence.