In this article we will try to briefly point out all the things that, if you are in Florence, absolutely must be done and seen - to avoid the classic phrase: "Ah, you don't know what you've been missing!"
Florence is one of those wonderful Italian cities that needs little introduction. It is the perfect kind of city to visit on a road trip through Italy; it is a very rich and lively city but still on a human scale. Easily visited on foot, it is also the best way to explore it even in the most hidden alleys.
Before starting with the advice, we remind you that bags and backpacks are not allowed in many museums and churches, so we suggest you leave your luggage in one of the deposits in the city: this will allow you to travel light and uncluttered, getting tired as little as possible, given that the places to visit in Florence are truly endless!
The Uffizi Gallery houses a collection of works of inestimable historical and artistic value and is considered a national heritage. The collection, begun by the Medici, has been enriched over time with donations and confiscations, to the point of becoming one of the most important museums in the world. To highlight the wealth of this museum, we simply mention some of the works jealously guarded here: Spring and The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, the Doni Tondo by Michelangelo, the Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci, the Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verrocchio, the Head of Medusa and the Adolescent Bacchus by Caravaggio, and many other truly unmissable works by artists such as Rubens, Durer, Titian. The list goes on and, not surprisingly, it is considered by many to be the number one museum in the world, both in terms of quality and quantity of the works housed here.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, which can be visited for free, is the symbol of the city and perhaps the most famous cathedral in the world. The Duomo, as it is simply known in Florence, is the jewel of the city. Attention, admission to the cathedral is free, but permitted only with appropriate clothing (access with bare legs and shoulders, sandals, hats and sunglasses is not permitted), and without backpacks and bulky bags.
The view over the city as the sun sets and colors its magnificent domes and roofs of houses is an unmissable sight. There are several places from where you can admire a Florentine sunset. We suggest three:
To enjoy a splendid sunset, Piazzale Michelangelo is the perfect place. It will take you about 30 minutes to walk to the square from Ponte Vecchio, but you won't regret it. A word of advice: start early to choose the ideal spot, because the area fills up quite quickly just before sunset!
Aperitif with a view
There are numerous rooftop bars and hotels from which you can enjoy the evening show while sipping an aperitif. Always better to check availability by contacting the venue in advance.
Giotto's Bell Tower
Another place from which to enjoy a spectacular view is Giotto's bell tower, one of the most beautiful bell towers in Italy. Witness of Florentine Gothic architecture, it can only be visited with a guide or companion, but the view it offers once you get to the top will leave you speechless, especially at sunset.
In the Loggia del porcellino, where a very lively market is set up every day, called Mercato Nuovo or, precisely, Mercato del Porcellino, you will find the statue of the little pig, which has a particularly shiny nose. It is said that, in order for luck to smile on you, you have to insert a coin into the piglet's mouth and then rub its nose; if the coin, falling, passes the small water grate, then luck will smile on you, otherwise… well, you can always try again!
Legend has it that if you can count the bees on the pedestal of the Grand Duke Ferdinand I's Equestrian Monument without using your fingers, luck will be on your side!
The monument is located in the center of the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.
Since the summer of 2010, a local artist named Clet, a French artist known all over the world, who has been living in Italy for more than 20 years, has been decorating the city's signs by adding nice self-produced stickers, making them truly unique and fun. Therefore, while walking through Florence, have fun looking for the road signs of Clet, it seems that there are almost 4000!
Palazzo Pitti was in the past the residence of the Medici family and the King of Italy, and today it is home to 4 museums. Behind it lies the marvelous Boboli Gardens, populated with statues and embellished with fountains, with an area of 45,000 square meters divided into a myriad of different sections which include large ponds complete with water features. It was the first model of a perfect Italian garden, later copied in many European courts.
Not many know that in the Basilica of Santa Croce, embellished with frescoes by Giotto and sculptures by Donatello, there are over 300 tombs, including that of Michelangelo, Vittorio Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo, Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machiavelli.
At the Central Market, open every day from 9 to midnight, you can taste some of the typical Florentine dishes, including crostini neri, i.e. croutons served with a chicken liver-based paté, lamprey, served either as a sandwich or dish, or the famous pappardelle with wild boar sauce.
In Florence you absolutely must taste at least one of the autochthonous wines famous all over the world, such as Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino. There are many others, less known but just as good that are worth tasting; among the reds you will find Canaiolo, Canina Nera, Malvasia, Prugnolo Gentile, Sangiovese and Vermentino Nero.
If we talk about white wines, however, you can try Biancone, Canaiolo Bianco, Malvasia Bianca, Moscato Bianco, Trebbiano Toscano or Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
A Florentine steak is certainly the ideal companion with a good glass of red wine. A visit to Florence cannot be complete without tasting a Florentine steak – unless you are a vegetarian of course! A word of advice: avoid ordering the first course, the classic Florentine steak is really big, often served with tasty side dishes, so generally enough to feed even the hungriest!
This bridge is unique in the world and is one of the oldest in Florence, probably the most recognizable bridge in Italy. Filled with little shops and stalls, the bridge is a lively place for visitors, so be prepared to be in a crowd.
If, on the other hand, you want to avoid the crowds, walking on the banks of the Arno River you can enjoy a splendid view of the Ponte Vecchio.
Finally, you cannot miss Piazza della Signoria, with its magnificent buildings. Florence, it's true, has many beautiful squares to explore, but there are some that really stand out from the rest. Piazza della Signoria is one of them! It is the heart of the city's public life, perhaps its most beautiful square and liveliest meeting place. If you love history and art and want to see a little slice of the city's past, this is the place to visit! Not only the buildings but also the statues that embellish the square deserve a close look: the 500-year-old Fountain of Neptune, Perseus with the head of Medusa and Michelangelo's David are at the forefront. The latter is a replica: the original, in fact, is well kept inside the Gallerie dell'Accademia.
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