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Top Ten Things To Do

  • Balance visits to galleries with wanderings in search of the perfect trattoria or the perfect view. Do buy a Firenze Card online (  it’s quite expensive but after four visits pays for itself and means you can skip the queues and enter the top museums and monuments without wasting your precious time in Florence.  It lasts for 72 hours and allows free admission to EU citizens who are under 18 but accompanied by a city card-holder. Alternatively, a Grande Museo del Duomo ticket accesses all the monuments on Piazza del Duomo. The official online ticket-booking site for state museums is: but there are many unofficial ones.

  • 1. Piazza del Duomo – marvel at the monumental centre

    Holding up to 20,000 people, the enormous Duomo (Cathedral) only serves to emphasise the smallness of the surrounding square and the narrowness of the adjoining streets. Now fully pedestrianised, the square is yours to wander freely, possibly even in a horse-drawn carriage, which can be picked up in the piazza. The Duomo is by far the biggest building for miles around and it is still Brunelleschi’s dome that defines Florence, over 500 years after it was built. Out of respect for Brunelleschi’s achievement, the city forbade the construction of any building taller than the Duomo. The Renaissance architect’s stroke of genius was to devise a cunning system of an inner shell and outer dome to distribute the weight of the cupola, with thick walls negating the need for further buttressing. If you have a head for heights, ascend to the gallery of the dome. Next-door, Giotto’s multicoloured Campanile (Belltower) soars above a low-slung skyline. The climb to the top is worth the effort for the panoramic views. The third star on the square is the Battistero (Baptistry), the oldest building in the city, rebuilt in the 11th century and used as the cathedral of Florence until 1228. Visit the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Cathedral Museum) to see the original sculpture and statuary that was once displayed in the cathedral. Highlights include Michelangelo’s Pieta, sculpted for his own tomb, and the Gates of Paradise, the original doors created for the Baptistry. The revamped museum now gives a truer sense of the majesty of the works in their rightful setting.

    Address: Piazza del Duomo, Florence

  • 2. Galleria degli Uffizi – see a showcase of Renaissance art

    The Uffizi Gallery is simply the world’s greatest collection of Italian art. As such, the gallery is both a feast for the senses and an indigestible banquet. The Uffizi has recently been revamped, with seven new rooms displaying works by Botticelli and other Early Renaissance artists. Botticelli’s Rebirth of Venus and Primavera have had a rehang, allowing for more space around the works, as well as for thematically linked works to be displayed nearby. Long-hidden works have come out of the Uffizi storehouses, along with newly acquired works, such as a huge Botticelli Annunciation, painted for the Hospital of San Martino in via della Scala. The Uffizi was once the administrative nerve centre of the Tuscan grand duchy, reinforcing the chain of command between the Palazzo Vecchio, the Medici power-base, and the court at the Pitti Palace. Under Francesco de Medici (1541-87), one floor became a gallery designed to showcase the glory of the ruling Medici. On display are paintings from Giotto to Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio. Since most visitors come to see the Early Renaissance works, the High Renaissance rooms are far more peaceful. Expect crowds in the Leonardo da Vinci room, which pays tribute to the greatest genius of the age, the master of the High Renaissance style. What you choose to be moved by will depend on your mood.

    Address: Piazzale degli Uffizi, Florence

  • 3. Palazzo Vecchio – for a symbol of Florentine power

    The Palazzo Vecchio, with its bold swallowtail crenellations and asymmetrical belltower, is the most evocative of city symbols. This town hall, under different guises, has been the emblem of Florentine power since the 14th century. The crenellated palace overlooks the Piazza della Signoria, the city’s grandest square, and a copy of Michelangelo’s David. Inside the palace, Vasari’s monumental staircase leads to the Salone dei Cinquecento, where members of the Great Council met. The interior is adorned with Renaissance art, including works by Michelangelo. The Palazzo Vecchio is one of the best Florentine museums to have moved into the 21st century in terms of multimedia presentation. En route, the palace reveals different stories, including insights into Medici court life. For a moody tour, opt for an evening visit: the Palazzo Vecchio is usually open until very late between April and September. One tour explores the tower and battlements while another takes you across a lofty footbridge to the Uffizi Gallery, essentially the first part of the Vasari Corridor (book a time slot).

    Address: Piazza della Signoria, Florence

  • 4. Galleria dell’Accademia – for Michelangelo’s David

    Most visitors dutifully come to gasp over Michelangelo’s David and then call it a day, scarcely realising that this is one of the city’s finest galleries. Although many treasures have moved to the Uffizi and San Marco, the remaining array of Florentine Byzantine and Gothic art justifies a visit. Even so, the added inducement of a certain Michelangelo is what pulls in the crowds. The colossal statue of David was carved between 1501 and 1504 from a single piece of marble. The masterpiece established Michelangelo as the foremost sculptor of his time before the age of 30. The foremost sculptor of his age, or arguably of all time, is well represented by his magnificently unfinished Four Slaves and by the authentic David, the centrepiece of the museum. Even if his paintings have a rare sculptural quality, only the sculpted naked body can express Michelangelo’s most sublime concepts. When criticising the gigantism of the work, remember that the statue was intended for a large civic space, not designed to be cooped up in a corner of a museum. To Florentines, the statue became both the symbol of liberty and a symbol of the artistic aspirations of the city. The statue now standing in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (above) is an impressive copy.

    Address: Via Ricasoli 60, Florence

  • 5. Museo del Bargello – for Renaissance sculpture

    As the oldest surviving seat of government in Florence, the Bargello preceded the Palazzo Vecchio. Unlike the Accademia, the Bargello would be a major site even without its treasure-trove. The collection clearly shows the transition between statuary flaunted as public symbols and sculpture appreciated as private treasures. The Bargello is also the best place in which to gain a sense of the inter-connectedness of Florentine Renaissance sculpture. It provides a clear overview, with works of art by the greatest masters. Moreover, despite the virtuosity of Michelangelo, the Bargello is more of a shrine to his predecessor, Donatello, the only sculptor to lay claim to equal gifts. Unlike Michelangelo’s work, Donatello’s sculpture betrays little sign of creative torment and virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake. However, in the Bargello, at least, Donatello is the undoubted star. If in pursuit of Renaissance sculpture, head straight for the Donatello gallery, followed by the Verrocchio and della Robbia rooms. Donatello’s David (from 1430–40) is a small bronze renowned for being the first nude since antiquity. It differs dramatically from Michelangelo’s masterpiece not just in size and material, but also in its coyness and melancholy, which some view as more faithful to David’s youth.

    Address: Via del Proconsolo 4, Florence

  • 6. Palazzo Pitti and Giardino di Boboli – for a glorious palace and gardens

    The Palazzo Pitti, the most grandiose of all Florentine residences, became the seat of government for the Medici dukes. Set in a massive Renaissance palace that dominates the Oltrarno, the Pitti houses seven museums, and leads to the lovely Boboli gardens, once a pastoral Medici pleasure-dome.  Rather than attempt to see all the museums, select a couple that match your interests. To appreciate the sumptuous Medici art collection and the lifestyles of the grand-dukes, the Royal Apartments and Palatine Gallery (Galleria Palatina) are the obvious choices.  The Silver Museum (Museo degli Argenti) comes a close second, more for the magnificently decorated rooms than for the contents. In terms of art history, the Modern Art Museum (Galleria d’Arte Moderna) takes up the story where the Uffizi leaves off, and gives a sense of the lavish but somewhat dubious decorative tastes of the last residents, the rulers of the houses of Lorraine and Savoy.
    The adjoining Giardino Boboli (Boboli Gardens) act as an excellent antidote to the suffocating splendours of the Pitti Palace. The Medici dynasty created these Italianate gardens which became the model for Italianate gardens for centuries to come. The landscaping of the Boboli Gardens, following the natural slope of the hill, provide the perfect complement to the sumptuous palace. As the most charming Italian late Renaissance garden, the Boboli reveal statues, fountains, ornamental pools, grottoes and even an Egyptian obelisk. At every turn, Classical and Renaissance statuary give way to whimsical Mannerist grottoes dotted with grotesque sculpture.

    Address: Palazzo Pitti

  • 7. Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi – for a dash of contemporary culture

    Palazzo Strozzi is, for Florence, a rare combination of ancient and contemporary life. It is a testament to the pride of the powerful merchant and banker, Filippo Strozzi, who dared to build a bigger palace than the Medici’s. As the closest rivals to the Medici, the princely Strozzi family were banished from the city by Cosimo the Elder but returned the richer, having established a banking dynasty in Lyon. This bombastic building has a rusticated façade and achieves a certain majesty, echoed by the inner courtyard. Such displays of ambition and ostentatious wealth were considered to be in poor taste in Renaissance Florence. Even so, as the quintessential 15th-century Florentine princely palace, Palazzo Strozzi was a highly influential model for centuries to come. The city is now a lively exhibition and cultural centre which has been fundamental in pushing the city into the twenty-first century. Florentines are also fans of the cool Strozzi Caffe off the courtyard.

    Address: Piazza Strozzi, Florence

  • 8. San Miniato walk for sunset views

    Set south of the river Arno, San Miniato al Monte is one of the finest Romanesque basilicas in the city. Perched atop one of the highest points in Florence, it is also a magical spot for viewing the sunset. For romantics, it offers more inspiring vistas than from Piazzale Michelangelo. As the church closes at sunset, ideally combine a visit with a scenic sunset over the city and surrounding countryside. The present complex dates from 1018 and is a fine example of Florentine Romanesque. Admire the green-and-white banded marble façade. The palette for Florentine facades was generally white marble from Carrara, pink from Maremma and dark green from Prato. Inside, seek out the Cappella del Crocifisso, a tiny vaulted temple, and the 11th-century crypt. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the monks focused on Gregorian chant in the late afternoon, at 5.30pm in summer, but an hour earlier in winter. Either walk up to the top or catch the number 12 or 13 bus.

    Address: Via delle Porte Sante 34, Florence

  • 9. Explore the craft shops on the Oltrarno

    Discover the Oltrarno neighbourhood's craft heritage on the so-called “Left Bank” of the city, across the river Arno. This bohemian district is studded with stylish bars and buzzy inns interspersed with antique shops, jewellery-makers, picture-restorers and bijou art galleries. This is a journey back into a bygone age, visiting ancient “botteghe” (artisans’ workshops). Despite tourism, this arty-crafty area remains authentic and is home to specialist artisans whose trades have survived in the same district since medieval times. Depending on your interest, call into craft shops run by carpenters, tailors, printmakers or leather-makers. This is the place to ponder the delights of buying bespoke furniture, lithographs, sculpture, or hand-tooled leather handbags. Explore on your own (see more tips in Shopping) or go on an Oltrarno craft tour with Eating Italy. Their craft tour also takes you to places for tastings of Tuscan meats, cheeses and Cantucci biscuits.


  • 10. Eating Florence – a food trail around the Oltrarno

    Savvy foodies cross the river to the Oltrarno, the arty-crafty, bohemian side of the city. This four-hour Florentine food safari, run in English, reveals the underbelly of Florence on an engaging walking tour. The Eating Italy tour offers insights into Florentine history as well as food. En route are delicious tastings of cheeses, cured meats (salumi) as well as crostini, wine, Florentine biscuits and ice cream. If you can’t make it, follow a version of the tour on your own, with tips below but to guarantee the tastings, you need to follow a tour.

    If you have a strong stomach, one highlight is the Da Simone food stall (Piazza dei Nerli) for tripe (lampredotto), the typical Florentine street food.  The tripe sandwich, literally made with “the fourth stomach of a cow” is enjoyed by everyone from Fiorentina football fans to artisans and aristocrats. Instead, Macelleria Mignani (Borgo San Frediano 127/r) serves tastings of fennel-infused salami. For the sweet-toothed, Pasticceria Buonamici (Via dell’Orto 12/r) demonstrates the making of cantuccini, the famous Florentine almond biscuits, baked by a father and daughter team. The’ll tell you why Tuscan bread is made without salt, supposedly because salt was once reserved for `precious’ foods such as salami. Fiaschetteria Fantappe (Via dei Serragli 47/r) should deliver your first glass of Chianti of the day, matched by a crostino toscano, crunchy bruschetta slathered in chicken liver.


Experience an official tuscany tour with

Private 3-Hour Food Tour of Florence

This exclusive food tour will take you to discover the authentic flavors of the Florentine cuisine: from bruschetta, crostini, prosciutto and cheeses, to ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, until getting to a delicious Italian coffee and gelato. You will enjoy a perfect combination of a private sightseeing guided tour and authentic local food tasting.

from 80,02 US Dollar

Multi-Day Flavors of Tuscany Cooking Classes and Arezzo Sightseeing Tour

A short break cooking holiday with an executive chef at your disposal ..You will be cooking, dining, drinking, relaxing and exploring the treasures of Arezzo City, one of the oldest cities in Italy, full of artwork of an ancient past, also famous for its culinary history.

While having fun at a stunning villa, in a private apartment, complete with panoramic pool overlooking the historical city centre.

The best Cocktail for this short break all-inclusive holiday in Tuscany ...

from 1062,72 US Dollar

Private Tour of Siena and San Gimignano

Devoting an entire morning to Siena is a unique opportunity to visit its historic center, its monuments and discover all the secrets that lie behind one of the most passionate competitions in Italy: the Palio of Siena.
San Gimignano’s historical center has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1990 for having preserved almost perfectly the features of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries city.
Private Tour for small groups

  • Departure from an agreed meeting point or from your hotel
  • Professional Guide
  • Visit of Siena
  • Typical tuscan lunch
  • Visit of San Gimignano
  • Return to an agreed meeting point or to your hotel
  • About 8 hours tour, lunch included

from 500,1 US Dollar

Private Pasta Making Class & Traditional Tuscan Dishes with a Local in Florence

Join your local host Patrizia at her family’s apartment located in the center of Florence in a traditional building built in 1759. During your hands-on cooking lesson, Patrizia will teach you traditional Italian dishes from Florence and Italy’s Emilia Romagna Region. You will prepare an appetizer, a first course, typically a fresh pasta like tagliatelle, ravioli, or gnocchi, a second course of meat and dessert.

Patrizia specializes in seasonal dishes that bring out the flavors of the region – in the summer you might learn to make sauces with fresh tomatoes, while in the winter months you might enjoy seasonal winter vegetables like artichokes. Your cooking lesson will last about 2 ½ hours; after you finish cooking, sit down together to enjoy your meal and some delicious Italian wine with your welcoming host in her beautiful home.

 Please note: This experience includes 2 glasses of wine.

from 143 US Dollar
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