Long considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is packed with extraordinary art and architectural masterpieces around each turn of its narrow cobbled streets. The city is brimming with world-class art museums full of paintings and sculptures from masters like Botticelli and Michelangelo, fresco-clad churches, quaint trattorias, local markets, and of course, the Duomo. With so much to see within the city, it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve outlined our top five things to do in Florence to give you a head start.
1. You can’t visit Florence without hitting the highlights. The Duomo is Florence’s most iconic landmark. Topped by Brunelleschi’s red-tiled dome, it towers over the city and took a staggering two centuries to complete. It’s located in the center of town halfway between the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery. Within the continually expanding collection at the Uffizi, you’ll find paintings and sculptures from 15th-century Italian masters like Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. It’s easily one of the most famous museums in the world and well-worth a visit.
To see Michelangelo’s famous statue of David, head to the Accademia Gallery nearby. Though he was only 26 when he began the statue, Michelangelo was already one of the most famous artists of his day. He took two years to complete the white marble masterpiece. Finally, take a stroll across the Ponte Vecchio. Florence’s oldest and most famous bridge crosses the Arno River at its narrowest point and is lined with shops overhanging the river. It is a great spot to stop for a photograph of the city and bridge itself.
2. For the best view of the city, the Duomo and the surrounding hills, grab a pizza and a bottle of wine and make your way up the steps to the Piazzale Michelangelo. There you can enjoy your picnic and listen to music as you watch the sunset over Florence.
3. Want to feel like a local? Opt to stay in Oltrarno, the other side of the Arno. This ‘artisan neighborhood’ is dotted with workshops and is the perfect way to experience the quintessential Florentine life. There is an excellent market (antiques, handmade goods, and food) in Piazza Santo Spirito the second Sunday of every month worth a visit.
4. Browse the markets. There are many to choose from in Florence – some open daily, others monthly. Mercato Centrale (open daily) a vast indoor food market that is great for produce, cheese, meats, and other food products. It is located in the San Lorenzo neighborhood near the Duomo and is a popular spot for locals during the lunch hours.
Another great every-day market that is less-touristy than Mercato Centrale is the Sant’Ambrogio market. It’s similar to Mercato Centrale with local food products, but because it is more off the beaten tourist path, it boasts an authentic Italian market experience with locals during their weekly shopping here. You can also find anything from light bulbs to vintage clothes here too.
5. Daily “aperitivo,” or happy hour, is a staple part of Italian life. For a visual treat, visit one of the bars near San Minato for an incredible sunset view over the Arno and city as you enjoy your aperitivo.
For more top things to do in Florence and to start planning your Ker & Downey journey, contact your Luxury Travel Expert.