Florence's is famous for its beauty, but the
city's medieval art and architecture are unsurpassed and it is these magnets
that attracts the majority of visitors to the city.
During the Renaissance (the period from the 13th to the 16th centuries that
witnessed the rebirth of classical art,
literature and architecture in Europe), Italy was acclaimed as the center of western
civilization and Florence was its crown jewel. A list of residents of the city
from this age represents the "Who's Who"
of the Renaissance Masters, including: Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo,
and Raphael. Of course, Florence proudly displays the works of these and other
Tourist Florence is a compact area on the north side of the Arno River and the
major attractions are close together and easily accessible, but don't let its
size lure you into scheduling a quick trip.
Florence has a lot to offer the art lover, especially those entranced with
the Renaissance. If you are an admirer of the works of Michelangelo,
Donatello or Fra Angelico you may never want to leave Florence. However, for
most of us touring gallery after gallery with a quick peek at a
medieval building or two in-between soon starts to get old. When one
painting starts to look like the next, it is a good time to look for other,
less cultural alternatives, which can easily be found in Florence. It is for
this reason that visitors should consider spending several days in Florence
- or suffer "over exposure".
The Piazza del Duomo
The Piazza San Giovanni and the adjacent Piazza del Duomo provide
numerous famous sights, including the Baptistery,
the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, the Campanile known as Giotto’s Bell Tower and
the Duomo itself (the Cattedrale di San Maria del Fiore).
The Duomo (13th century with later additions) is considered an architectural masterpiece
and its Gothic interior is a sight to behold. The cathedral is impressive due to its size and
the incredible dimensions of its amazing dome. You can climb the several
hundred steps to the top of the dome to see its amazing frescos by Vasari,
and for an amazing view of the city. If you want to see the
original art from the Duomo, it is on display at the Museo dell’ Opera del
The Dome is open Monday through Friday from 0830 to 1900 with shorter hours
on Saturday. The Dome is closed on Sundays. Note that there is no elevator
(lift) and ascending requires climbing 463 steps.
- See the
official website of the Duomo for more details on visiting
(The site is in Italian, so use Google Translator or a similar service).
Hours of operation for the Duomo are: Monday through Wednesday 10:00
– 1700. Closes early on Thursdays (15:30) and Saturdays (16:45). Open
Sunday from13:30 to 16:45. Closed Easter, Christmas and some other holy
The Duomo Museum is a knockout and includes an unfinished pieta by Michelangelo
(the Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican is acknowledged to be
Michelanglo’s finest). Ghiberti’s original bronze panels for the
Baptistery Doors and works by Donatello, including several magnificent statues,
are on display in the Museo.
Hours of operation are: Monday through Saturday 0900 to 1800 and later in peak
tourist season. Closed Sunday afternoon. Last admission 40 minutes before
closing. Closed Easter and some other holy days.
The Museo is currently closed for renovation and is scheduled to
reopen in November, 2015.
- The Baptistery, one of the oldest buildings in Florence, is at the front
of the Duomo. It is known for the bronze door panels by Ghiberti (see
the originals in the Museo). In addition, the interior of this
octagonal building is decorated with impressive mosaics and an extraordinary
inlaid marble floor.
Hours of operation: 1215 - 19:00 but 08:30 to 14:00 on Sundays and the first
Saturday of the month.
Note - The Baptistery is open but its outside is being renovated and
is hidden behind scaffolding and sheathing,
Museum note - additional information about
visiting the grand museums of Florence can be found at the Polo Fiorentino
Museale website. If our links the the museums do not work (problems
with the Italian websites), you
should be able to navigate to the museums using this link (Italian and English)
- This small museum is one of the most crowded in Florence due to the world’s
fascination with Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. The
remainder of the Galleria is focused on Florentine arts and artists.
- You need to reserve your tickets in advance and we suggest you visit The
museum's official website
for information on tickets and the museum.
- (Hours of operation: Tuesday through Sunday 08:15 to 18:50 (no ticket
sales last hour) Closed Mondays and some holidays.)
Formerly the residence of the grand dukes of Tuscany, the King of Italy and home
of the Medici's, the Palazzo is furnished with treasures from the ages and
features several museums/galleries, including:
Gallery of Modern Art
Museo degle Argenti (the Medici Treasury)
The Palatine Gallery, which includes works by Raphael, Reubens Titian
and sculptures by Canova
The Boboli Gardens, originally designed by the Medici's, are one of the earliest
examples of formal Italian Gardens.
Hours of operation: During summer from 08:15 to sunset but closes earlier
in winter (1800). Closed first and last Mondays of the month and some holidays
The Palazzo is on the south side of the Arno, so a visit provides a good
opportunity to combine it with a look at the Ponte Vecchio.
(Hours for the Pitti Palace are 08:15-18:50 Tuesday through Sunday, closed
Monday and some holidays.)
Museum of San Marco
The former Dominican convent of San Marco contains many of
the artistic works by Fra Angelico, a famous Renaissance artist
known for his incredible frescoes, many of which decorate this
building. Other of Fra Angelico’s works have been added to the
collection more recently.
Click for the museum's
- (Hours of operation: Open Monday through Friday 08:15 to
13:50. Open Saturday and Sunday from 08:15 to 16:50.
Closed Monday, some holy days, as well as national
Bargello National Museum
This museum includes masterpieces by Donatello and Michelangelo and others
presented in the former Council of Justice, a building dating from the
fourteenth century. The collection features statues, including Bacchus by
Michelangelo and Donatello’s David. The collection includes tapestries,
furniture and other unique works of art.
Click for the museum's
The Ponte Vecchio is the best known of Florence’s many bridges across
the River Arno. The bridge, which was built in the fourteenth century,
has been known for its goldsmith and jewelry shops since the early
sixteenth century. Some of Italy’s finest jewelry can be purchased here.
Piazza della Signoria
This Piazza has been the center of politics in Florence for centuries.
Fronted by the famous Palazzo Vecchio and its tower, the Square (perhaps
the "L" would be a more appropriate description of its actual
shape) is graced with many beautiful works of art including the well
known Fountain of Neptune and the equestrian statue of Cosimo.
- Several statues (David, the Lion and Judith and Holofernes)
are recreations, although the originals are in nearby museums.
- The Piazza is a good place to spend a few minutes before your
visit to the adjacent Uffizi Gallery. Plan on a short stroll to take
in the sights and watch the crowds.
- This is the plaza known for the original "bonfire of the
- In the fifteenth century, Savonarola, a monk with
ultra-conservative views who had captured the imagination of the
city’s residents, led them to burn books, artwork and other items
that were considered “evil”. A year later, after infuriating
the Pope with a refusal to appear in Rome, he was hanged and his
body burned in the same square.
The official tourism website for the city of Florence is
Firenze Turismo. The site includes additional information on
our recommended best places to visit, as well as details on locations
that did not make our list. The Polo Fiorentino Museale
is the official master link to many of the museums in Florence that we
cover, as well as several interesting attractions not on our list.
If your are looking for country facts
information on Italy including passports, visas, consideration for
driving, personal safety, health issues, etc., see the U.S. State
Department Consular Affairs page on
traveling in Italy for these details.
If you need information about another travel destination, try our
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.
Top of Page
Giotto's Belltower from the Duomo
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Statue of Perseus slaying Medusa
Top of Page
Skip The Line: Best of Florence Walking
Tour including Accademia Gallery and Duomo
From Viator Tours
The Ponte Vecchio takes on a special allure at night
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The Palazzo Vecchio
Don't forget our section on
at the bottom of the page.