I’m just going to go out and say it. Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I mean, it was the center of the Italian Renaissance, where Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and famous artists of their time mastered their craft. Many masterpieces are still preserved in Florentine art galleries today, attracting millions of culture lovers every year.
But art is not the only beautiful thing in Florence. The streets are lined with exquisite medieval architecture, from 12th century palaces to the impressive Duomo of Florence. Italian cuisine in house style can be found on every corner. Craftsmen and leather craftsmen make world-class products. And, of course, Florence is the capital of Tuscany in Italy, famous for its rolling hills, quiet countryside and award-winning plonk.
Yes, there is a lot to love in Florence.
I’ve been fascinated by the history of Florence ever since I watched the Netflix series Medici: Masters of Florence, which recounts the rise of the wealthy banking family to power amid clan rivalry, passion and betrayal. The influence of the Medici on the prosperity of Florence is still clearly visible today and includes galleries, street names and even their family crest, which is integrated into almost all public buildings.
Millions of tourists fell in love with the indefinable charm and inspiring energy of Florence, and so did I. Now you can do it too with my 4-day Florence itinerary-all the best pieces, without the unless drama, unless you really want it.
Michelangelo’s David and the Duomo of Florence on a visit to the best of Florence
The beauty of Florentine art and architecture is best experienced with a competent guide who will uncover the juicy stories behind each piece.
We booked the take Walks Best of Florence on foot and met with our group in Piazza San Marco before heading to the Galleria Dell’Accademia (Galleria Dell’Accademia), which houses Michelangelo’s legendary David sculpture.
At 9:15 a huge queue was already snaking around the building, so we were relieved when our guide Matt took out fast track tickets and brought our group to the front.
According to Matt, the Academy owns the largest collection of Michelangelo’s sculptures in the world, many of which have never been completed, giving an otherwise impossible insight into the master’s unique sculpting process.
Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa and visit the medieval city of Lucca.
No trip to Italy is complete without a stop at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and since Florence is the perfect starting point for a day trip, we booked a day trip from Florence to Pisa with lunch at a winery and a visit to Lucca.
We met our tour group in Piazza Della Repubblica, stuffed ourselves into a minivan and started the 90-minute drive to Pisa. On the way, our guide Laura pointed out the monuments and vineyards and shared a brief history of Pisa. It turns out that Pisa is much more historical than most people know. It was an important trading city during Roman and medieval antiquity because of its proximity to the lake and river network.
Like most Italian cities, Pisa is built around its religious center of 3 buildings: a baptistery, a cathedral and a bell tower. It is the bell tower that is called the “Leaning Tower of Pisa”, but as Laura pointed out, if you look closely, the three buildings are actually inclined. Despite its inclined state, the bell tower still serves its purpose with bells ringing at 12 o’clock every day. Unlike most bell towers, the chime is supported by an electronic device to prevent damage from movement and vibration of the tower.
Visit the Duomo of Florence
if you made the most of the Florence tour, your guide would have told a short story about Florence Cathedral and you might have quickly visited the interior of the cathedral. I suggest you return to the Duomo at your own pace to climb the dome of the cathedral and the bell tower and visit the Baptistery of St. John, the crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Tickets can be purchased as an online package for per person. At the time of booking, you must select a non-changeable time slot to climb the dome. I suggest booking these tickets in advance, because they need to be printed, and the slots to climb the dome sell out pretty quickly. People without pre-reserved time slots were constantly rejected on the day of our ascension.
The ufizzi gallery, along with the Galleria Dell’Accademia, is one of the most famous art galleries in Italy, which means that it also attracts some of the longest queues. To minimize your waiting time, I recommend that you visit the Ufizzi early in the morning and book quick tickets online in advance.
At the moment I thought we must have seen the best of Renaissance art in Florence, so I did not expect that the Ufizzi would hypnotize me. But hypnotize me, that’s what it did. The gallery is filled with hundreds of Greek and Roman sculptures in the main rooms and a maze of rooms filled with masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Rembrandt. I recognized several pieces, such as the birth of Venus by Botticelli, of, well, not living under a rock.