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Top Things to do in Florence, Italy

Updated: Apr 30

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Florence Cathedral

Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, a movement that changed art and the world forever. You'll find evidence of the renaissance in every corner of the city, from its splendid architecture to its world-famous museums. If you're spending two weeks in Italy, Florence is a must-see for its sheer beauty. Here are some of the best things to do in Florence, Italy.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, The Baptistery of Saint John, and Giotto's Bell Tower

Florence cathedral
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

These three buildings are a stone's throw away from each other, and you can save money by booking them together. The Cathedral of Santa Marie del Fiore is known for its dome - an engineering feat of its time. It took 140 years to complete, only coming to fruition when architect Filippo Brunelleschi won a competition. Other things of note in the duomo are stain-glass windows, a large mural of The Last Judgement, a sundial, and a Roman-numeral clock. If you choose to climb the dome, be prepared for 463 steps.

The Baptistry of Saint John was built in 1128, making it the oldest religious site in the city. One of its most famous aspects is its three heavily-decorated bronze doors. The baptistry is still in use on the first Sunday of each month. The final building, Giotto's Bell Tower is 278-feet tall and offers truly spectacular views. To reach the top, you must climb 414 steps.

The Accademia Gallery

David at the Academy Gallery
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

As a place where art reigns significant, visiting museums is one of the top things to do in Florence, Italy. The Accademia Gallery is home to Michelangelo's "David." Built between 1501 and 1504, the renaissance sculpture is world famous for its unbelievable attention to detail. This piece of work stands at 17-feet tall and weighs 12,500 tons. More than 1.4 million people visit the statue each year, making for long lines if you don't book ahead of time.

"David" isn't the museum's only accolade. Also fashioned by Michelangelo, the "Slave" segment has four sculptures known for being unfinished. This design choice is meant to depict men clawing their way out of their trapped state. Another impressive work is Pacino di Buonaguida's "Tree of Life," portraying Christ's crucifixion and his 12 apostles.

The Uffizi Gallery

Artwork at Uffizi Gallery
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

Florence, Italy's Uffizi Gallery houses some of the most importance pieces from the renaissance. It features artwork from Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and other renowned artists. Among its most famous works are "The Birth of Venus" (pictured above), "Medusa," and "Primavera." The 16th-century building is a piece of art in itself, with beautiful corridors, staircases, and design elements. My main piece of advice: make sure to look up.

Porcellino Market & Statue

The lucky boar in Florence
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

Mercato del Porcellino, or Porcellino Market, is an open-air shopping center with local vendors. Appealing mainly to tourists, it sells souvenirs, leather goods, and cheap replicas where you can haggle for the best price. Its claim to fame is a bronze statue named Porcellino. Legend has it, those who rub the boar's snout will return to Florence someday.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio bridge Florence
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

Opened in 1345, Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge in Florence to survive World War II. Rumor has it, the arch bridge was spared only because Adolph Hitler took a liking to it. Historically, the bridge was lined with butcher shops, where workers would take old waste and toss it into the Arno River. Much less disgusting, it's now full of jewelry and art shops.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzle Michelangelo
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

Piazzale Michelangelo offers panoramic views of the city, making it one of the best places to catch a Florentine sunset. In the square, you'll often see musicians, performers, and a proposal or two. It's a great place to grab a souvenir or vendor food while taking in the bronze replica of Michelangelo's "David."

Where to Stay

In my opinion, it makes the most sense to book a hotel near the city's main attractions. Practically right on top of the duomo, Grand Hotel Cavour is in an excellent location, though it's also reflected in the price. For a much lower price, Hotel Nella puts you right beside the Santa Maria Novella Train Station. Another option, Hotel Roma, is a 5-minute walk from the church.

Florence, Italy is an art lovers dream, and the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. The tranquil, yet vibrant city is easily walkable, surprisingly slow-paced, and a nice shift from the vibes of Rome and Milan. That doesn't mean it's not busy, though. To avoid trouble, don't forget to book your museum tickets before you go.

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