For 11 consecutive years Florence has been voted as the best city to visit in Europe in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. For those of you who keep a bucket list, I recommend that you include a visit to Florence. From the 12th to 16th century, it was one of the most important cities in the world. Throughout history, such notable people as Michelangelo, Donatello, Machiavelli, Lorenzo Medici, Raphael, Dante, and Galileo resided there. It is said to be an art historian’s dream destination, and I couldn’t agree more after having visited Tuscany’s capital for the first time. I’ve been to many cities in Italy, and Florence became one of my favorite ones. After speaking to my fellow travelers, I can say that it’s not only my experience. It’s enough to spend only 1 day in Florence for this city to take a special place in your heart. And here’s my list of 10 top things to see in Florence.
1. Florence Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or simply put Florence Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the most celebrated cathedrals in the world and one of the city’s key buildings. It’s located in the center of the city, making it a great place to start your exploration of Florence. The first thing about the Florence Cathedral that catches the eye is a massive and beautiful dome. Then you start seeing how breathtaking the façade of the cathedral is. It’s so great that you start regretting not being able to have a first impression twice! Here are the top 5 interesting facts about the Florence Cathedral:
- It’s one of the top 10 biggest cathedrals in the world
- It took 140 years to complete the cathedral
- It has the biggest masonry dome in the world
- The construction of the dome took 16 years
- The dome of Florence Cathedral is the largest brick dome ever constructed
Florence cathedral is located at Piazza del Duomo, a bustling, lively area full of shops, cafes, souvenir stalls, and restaurants. Grab some coffee and continue your journey to Giotto’s Campanile! Check out this post on how to Climb to the top of Il Duomo Florence
2. Giotto’s Campanile
Many people think that this building is connected to the Florence Cathedral, but it’s a separate building. As the name suggests, it was designed by the famous Giotto, but it was Talenti who finished it.
Being a gothic masterpiece, Giotto’s Campanile tower features marble decoration, myriads of sculptures, and beautiful panels. You can climb 414 steps and enjoy the breathtaking views of Florence and the Florence Cathedral.
3. Palazzo Vecchio
After seeing the most important religious building in Florence, you can take a look at the most important administrative building, which serves as a town hall of the city. It was designed by the same people who worked on the Florence Cathedral, which made Palazzo Vecchio an integral part of city center’s coherent architectural ensemble.
You can see a series of the coast of arms on the front façade of the building. They represent different important individuals and families that made crucial contributions to the development of the city.
Recommended tour: Palazzo Vecchio Entrance Ticket & Audioguide
4 .Piazza della Signoria
One of the main squares of Florence is the Piazza della Signoria. It’s an L-shaped square located in front of the Palazzo Vecchio near Ponte Vecchio and Piazza del Duomo. On this square, you will also find the Fountain of Neptune (made by famous sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati), which was commissioned in 1565.
5. Ponte Vecchio
There’s Karl’s Bridge in Prague, Pont Alexandre III in Paris, and then there’s Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Being the most photographed bridge in the city, this bridge is quite unique, because it has houses and shops on it. Another interesting thing about the bridge is that it’s connected to the ‘secret’ passageway known as the Vasari Corridor. It was built in the 16th century to link Palazzo Vecchio with Pitti Palace.
6. Uffizi Gallery
Point number 6 in our top 10 things to see in Florence list is the Uffizi Gallery. If you want to go to Florence and wish to visit this gallery, make sure you buy tickets online in advance as the queues here are never-ending. Uffizi Gallery will offer you the famous works of Sandro Botticelli, like the ‘Birth of Venus’ and ‘La Primavera’. You will also discover famous works of great Italian artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto, and Raffaello, just to name a few.
The museum hosts an extensive collection of works from all centuries, but its main focus is between the 12th and 17th centuries. A splendid place for a true art lover!
7. Il Porcellino
Since you’re in Florence, it will be a great idea to throw a coin at the famous Il Porcellino (Italian ‘piglet’) a Florentine nickname for the bronze fountain of a boar.
It is said that visitors to Il Porcellino must put a coin into the boar’s gaping jaws, and the coin must fall through the underlying grating for good luck. You can make your wish and rub the boar’s snout to ensure a return to Florence.
8. San Lorenzo Market
Italian markets are something! That’s why you need to pay a visit to San Lorenzo Market. It comprises of two separate markets. One is the Central Market, which has two-levels and an indoor food market (here you can buy all sorts of Italian delicacies and spices for pasta and meats).
The other one is the outdoor market full of stalls selling leather, clothing, and souvenirs. It runs from the Church of San Lorenzo along Via Ariento all the way to Via Nazionale.
Recommended tour: Market to Table Cooking Lesson
9. Basilica di San Lorenzo
You will find the Basilica di San Lorenzo not far from the San Lorenzo market. Although it’s not as breathtaking as the Florence Cathedral it’s still an impressive building with a massive dome and beautiful roof. And it’s the oldest church in Florence because according to the records it was consecrated in 393 by Saint Ambrose of Milan. The interior of the church is also worth your attention. It was designed with great attention to detail and has a plethora of beautiful decoration, artwork, frescos, and sculptures.
- Tuscany Day Trip with Optional Lunch and Wine
- Florence Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
- San Gimignano, Siena, Chianti Guided Tour from Florence – I really enjoyed this tour! You can read about my adventures here.
10. Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo wasn’t placed in the end of 1-day Florence itinerary by accident. If you manage to come here by sunset, that view can easily take your breath away as Piazzale Michelangelo has the best view of the Cathedral and Florence in the entire city. You may have seen this view on Florence postcards, and by standing in this stellar observation point, you can experience that beauty of it yourself! You will find the beautiful Bronze statue of David in the center of the square as well as artists and vendors trying to sell their goods. Quickly buy what you need and go back to the observation point to make your most beautiful Florence photo.
One day in Florence is just a brief moment of your life, but you can make it a very bright and vibrant moment by visiting these magnificent places. And it will surely make you want to get back to this incredible city of art again.