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5 tips for Florence

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The city of Florence in Tuscany is a paradise of arts and museums. From the world-famous Galleria Degli Uffizi, to the Galleria dell’Accademia, to the galleries in Palazzo Pitti, you can admire real masterpieces of art. The palaces and cathedrals, such as the Palazzo Vecchio or the Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore, not only bring you closer to the history of Florence, but also offer an incredible picture with their unique architecture, which makes the city a total work of art. There is also no shortage of gardens in Florence that promise relaxation, and for a change of pace and the best wine, you’ll be in Tuscany’s nature in no time.

Tip 1: Uffizi Gallery

The abundance of masterpieces gathered in the Uffizi, one of the most famous museums in the world, is almost overwhelming: More than 1,000 works are displayed in 50 halls, in addition to numerous sculptures, tapestries, historical maps and much more.

The Uffizi is one of the oldest museums in the world. The name Uffizi (in modern Italian “Uffici” = offices) goes back to the original purpose of the building.

Florence, Tuscany, Italy: the outside of the Uffizi Gallery (Italian: Galleria degli Uffizi), famous art museum

The Uffizi consist of a powerful façade, behind which there are unequal, sometimes older and interlocking components. Three facades form an elongated square that looks like a courtyard.

The beginning of the collection was made during the reign of Cosimo, Francesco I. He was passionate about the arts.

In the years that followed, the art collection in the Uffizi grew steadily. For the Medici, the Uffizi served as a hall for pleasure strolling among their treasures. They ruled Florence for three centuries and possessed the passion for collecting typical of the rich at that time.

Today, visitors throng the many pieces in the collection, which spans the period from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Florentine painting is represented with numerous masterpieces, but one also finds the schools of Siena, Venice, Parma and Mantua, as well as German, Flemish and Spanish artists.

Among the most famous paintings is “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. In addition to Botticelli, masterpieces by other world-famous artists can be found here. These include Titian, Giotto, Uccello, Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio. In addition to paintings, the gallery also houses statues and a collection of tapestries and objects made of marble.

Tip 2: Florence Cathedral

The climb to the dome of the cathedral should not be underestimated. To get to the dome, you first have to climb 460 steps. However, if you have taken this effort, you will be rewarded with a phenomenal view of the city.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1296. It was not until 1436 that the consecration of the cathedral could finally be celebrated. The facade of the church initially remained unfinished. It was only in the course of the 19th century that it acquired its present appearance.

Florence Cathedral
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The cathedral consists of a nave, two aisles and an apse in the back. The church can accommodate about 30,000 people.

Characteristic for the cathedral is the imposing dome. It is 35 meters high and has a diameter of 45 meters. To this day, the dome, designed and realized by Filippo Brunelleschi, is considered a masterpiece of architecture.

Immediately in front of the cathedral is the Baptistery of San Giovanni, a large and angular structure. Its affiliation with the cathedral is evident from its magnificent marble facade. Characteristic of the building is its large dome, which has a diameter of about 25 meters. Inside the chapel, numerous works of art can be seen. Among the most famous paintings is certainly the ceiling painting from the 13th century, which shows Jesus Christ as a judge. Also very famous are the ten golden paintings, located in the Paradise Door, depicting biblical scenes from the Old Testament. They were created at the beginning of the 15th century and have a 3D effect thanks to a special technique.

Tip 3: Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge that crosses the Arno River. A walk across the historic bridge should be a fixed program item of every stay. After a wooden bridge could not withstand the flood waters, the Ponte Vecchio was built between 1333 and 1345. The bridge is about 100 meters long and 30 meters wide.

The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is located at one of the narrowest points of the Arno River, in the immediate vicinity of the Uffizi Gallery. It connects the city center of Florence with its districts on the other bank.

Ponte Vecchio in Florence
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In the middle of the bridge, however, the passage is interrupted for a few meters, offering a free and beautiful view of the Arno. It is a popular place to take pictures and linger.

Characteristic of the Ponte Vecchio are the many small stores that line the bridge. The stores have their entrances inside the bridge and jut out over the Arno like little balconies. The stores on the Ponte Vecchio are traditionally home to goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewelers. At the end of the 16th century, the Grand Duke of Florence Cosimo I de’ Medici decreed that only goldsmiths and silversmiths could set up store on the Ponte Vecchio.

Nowadays, there are still about 20 stores located on the bridge, selling high-class jewelry and luxury watches.

Tip 4: Basilica di Santa Croce

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross) consists of a central nave and two side naves. The founder of the church is said to have been none other than Francis of Assisi himself, who donated his belongings to the needy and lived as an itinerant monk. It was designed by the architect Arnolfo the Cambio.

Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence
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In the basilica are many tombs of famous personalities. In the right aisle there is the funerary monument of Michelangelo Buanarroti and the tomb of Vittorio Alfiero. Nearby is the tomb of Niccolo Machiavelli. Another tomb, again located in the left aisle, is the tomb of Galileo Galilei. Another personality who found his final resting place here is Leonardo DaVinci.

Not far from the church is the museum of the same name. Here, after the floods in 1966, works were moved that were once in the church itself.

These include the crucifix (Crocefisso) by Cimabue, which was badly damaged and only partially restored, and the large, famous bronze statue of San Ludovico di Tolosa (Saint Louis of Toulouse).

Also worth seeing is the Pazzi Chapel (Cappella dei Pazzi), built by Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect of the dome of the cathedral, which can be counted among the most important buildings of the Italian Renaissance. The cloister of the former monastery can also be visited.

Tip 5: Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria is one of the most famous squares in Italy and is home to numerous attractions. The busy square is part of the large pedestrian zone of the city center and offers an ideal starting point for a sightseeing tour. Numerous other highlights of Florence are located in the immediate vicinity.

Directly on the Piazza della Signoria is the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace). The magnificent palace with its characteristic tower cannot be overlooked and immediately catches the eye. It was the political center of the city and the whole of Tuscany for several centuries.

Piazza della Signoria in Florence
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In front of the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio you will find one of the most famous and most photographed statues of Florence, maybe even of the world: the statue “David” by Michelangelo. It is a replica from 1910, the original statue can be admired in the Galleria dell’ Accademia, just a few hundred meters away.

In the Piazza della Signoria, another visitor magnet is the Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno). It was designed between 1563 and 1575 by the architect Bartolomeo Ammannati on the occasion of the marriage of Francesco de’ Medici and Johanna of Austria and was intended to be a splendid eye-catcher of the square. The wedding was a special event for the Medicis, which helped them to rise to great heights.