15 Top Tourist Attractions in Florence

Martina Rosado
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Mercato Nuovo

Rising like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this marketplace is perfect for the hour or so you’ll have to kill while waiting for your train. Housed in an old trolley shed, it’s the holdover of a previous era, with a charm that probably hasn’t changed since it was first completed in 1892.

Narrow, long aisles curve around the building like spokes on a wheel. Be prepared to get a little wet when walking through the market’s aisles, which themselves are almost always flooded with rainwater. You’ll find more than a dozen family-owned stalls offering a dizzying array of everything you would expect to see in a weekly bazaar in Europe.

But that’s just a small part of the joy here. Although you will be tempted by the delicious smells emanating from the stalls, resist the urge to go hunting for a bargain, or worse, stealing something. It just isn’t done in Italy.

Tourists come to town to see and experience “real life”, and that means walking around and talking to people, hanging out, and taking your time to appreciate the first things that come to the people there. If you are going to do that, pick another market.

San Miniato al Monte

(Church of San Miniato)

San Miniato al Monte is a hilltop Renaissance-style Franciscan church near the Tuscan city of Florence. The church is located in one of the highest points of the hill, which gives a view over the Kingdom of Italy, over the Gulf of Salerno and the Bay of Naples.

The Franciscan friars built the church after 1330 as a base for their missions in the city. The architecture of the church and its residential tower is a noticeable innovation in the architecture of Florence at the time.

Accessible from the church is the open-air "Santo Stefano Rotondo" grotto, which spreads below the church. The cave has thick natural walls and it covers around 7,000 square meters and is still under excavation.

The church is built in the shape of a Latin cross. A main door leads to the nave, which is covered by a single vault. The interior of the church has the "Chigi Chapel" and the "Kafuli Chapel" in the left and right side, respectively.

The Chigi Chapel is the first work decided on by Gherardo di Gherarduccio, who was later the first architect of the Duomo. This work, completed in 1355, is dedicated to the original building by the Franciscan friar Antonio Chigi. The Kafuli Chapel is a work by the same architect.

Piazza della Repubblica

Florence’s fountain of Republic was built in markings of the Roman Empire at the end of the Republic period. It is a beautiful representation of the city. With a beautiful statue in the middle and also a gift shop on the side, this place is more than just a stop for getting water.

The scene at Piazza della Repubblica is very lively with its many people enjoying the fountain, eating food, and having a place to sit. The colors of the fountain alone were already very beautiful. Adding the variety of people, the fountain creates a very beautiful and successful scene.

Loggia dei Lanzi

Loggia dei Lanzi (Lanzi Loggia) is one of the most famous palaces in Florence. The history of the building dates back to the XI century, when it was built in the form of a Latin cross as a chapel, designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

The palace belonged to the famous Gherardini family. In the XVI century, it grew in size, becoming a meeting place for the business and the cultural elite. The main hall, the Great Hall, was designed by Michelangelo between 1506 and 1512, bringing together a variety of historical exhibits, including a fresco depicting the hunting of the Calabrian Boar by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, a painting by Bramantino, with a fresco which was considered to be the jewel of the palace.

In the middle of the XVI century, the palace became a Medici residence, hosting various types of ceremonies, from wedding parties to select celebrations and giornate.

In the eighteenth century, the palace was abandoned and only later, with the restoration work that began in the first half of the nineteenth century, the building returned to the aristocratic mode of living.

Today, the palace houses the Gallery of Modern Art, where are shown works by artists as varied as Gozzoli, Signorelli, Botticelli, Domenico Veneziano and Lippi.

Santa Croce Church

Palazzo Pitti

Piazzale Michelangelo

This is located next to the Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Republica. Here, you will find the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, which was begun in 1393 by Filippo Brunelleschi and is considered the largest building project ever undertaken on the continent. The Basilica was built with three aisles, a central nave, and a double apse.

It was never actually finished until the 19th century. The octagonal baptistery is on the edge of the square and its tall lantern is an important landmark. On entering the Basilica, the beautiful design of its nave is clearly evident, whereas from outside it is the square tower that first catches your attention.

Boboli Gardens

Pvisit the Boboli Gardens in the center of Florence. Containing the renowned Boboli Palace, the gardens are designed by the same person who designed the other famed sights in Florence.

The gardens were remodeled by Pitti in the mid-19th century, and are now known as the Pitti Palace. Its location in Florence, however, enables you to see both the gardens and the palace in one trip.

Because of the Boboli gardens’ proximity to the Uffizi, the Museo dell’Accademia, and the San Lorenzo Basilica, finding free time to explore them can be difficult. If you are looking for a flea market or visiting the Uffizi, the Boboli Palace may be closed.

Despite the crowded nature of the Uffizi, you can take your time to see the other sights in the Boboli Gallery.

The Boboli Gardens contain more sculptures than anywhere else in the city. Here, you can see two of the works by Donatello, who is considered the founder of modern sculpture. They are Giuditta e Oloferne and San Lorenzo.

Basilica di San Lorenzo

Galleria dell'Accademia

When you first encounter the piazza you are intrigued by the monumental staircase that leads to the Galleria, which was so ornately restored by architect Carlo Nardi del Baule in a style historically inaccurate to the original.

In its heyday, it was the home of the Medici court. The statue of Giocondo was evidently sculpted by Leonardo da Vinci, one of his masterpieces, and placed here as a symbol of this great family.

But the original name given to the open space was Piazza della Libertà, liberty square, as it was here in 1789, that this newly born state proclaimed its independence from the Austrian domination and proclaimed the promise to rebuild all in peace and harmony.

Located at the end of Via Sant' Andrea, this is a large rectangular square. On the main drag in the middle is a statue of the façade of the palace, located on Palazzo Pitti, Pitti Palace, where the original dome of Santa Maria del Fiore once stood.

Palazzo Vecchio

The most iconic of Renaissance buildings in Florence, Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) is the town's symbol. If you are in Florence, you cannot miss it! It stands alone with the statue of David on its roof and can be seen from all parts of the historic center of Florence.

Before it was the seat of the city administration, this beautiful building was the headquarters of the Great Council, precursor of the Florentine parliament. From the terrace you will admire Water Tower behind the Palace and the wonderful Duomo in front of you.

You can check out the fabulous view of the Duomo from the fantastic loggia just at the first floor, using special tickets. There are four floors in the Palace, and if you can’t find the audioguide, you can see one of the exhibitions: “Mantegna, the Florentine Paintings", "La Caccia di Baccio Bandinelli", "Beautiful Florentine Jewelry from the XIV to the XVII Century".

The finest medieval artworks are present, including the magnificent and famous Studiolo of the Uffizi Gallery. You can admire the Treasure Chamber, where you can see the Uffizi’s biggest painting: The Judith with the Head of Holofernes.

Piazza della Signoria

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art galleries in Italy. Although it is one of the oldest state museums in the world, it has undergone a number of expansion and renovation projects in order to keep up with the constant flow of tourists.

The Gallery has over 600 works of art that are considered masterpieces created by both Italian and foreign artists.

This is one of three major art museums found in Florence, as well as the most visited. This is a must-see for anyone who has the intention of seeing Italy on their vacation.

The Statue of David

It is believed that Michelangelo was commissioned to work on this statue in 1504 by the Medici family. This is one of the oldest works by Michelangelo that is still in Italy.

If you have plenty of time on your hand, the tour on top of the mausoleum will give you a great view of Florence from above.

Duomo

The Duomo is the name given to the cathedral church of Florence, Italy. It has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage list since its construction began in 1386. The Duomo contains breathtaking artwork in its interior and exterior.

Pull a map out and walk around to soak the cathedral in. Don’t forget to take the trek up the tower so that you can see it from above.

Ponte Vecchio

Il Ponte Vecchio (French for the Old Bridge, also called the Ponte Vecchio or Ponte Vecchio Vecchio) is an ancient stone bridge in Florence, Italy, which has been in its current state since the 16th century.

Santa Maria del Fiore

(Basilica of St. Mary of the Flower)

Known as "Il Duomo" (The Cathedral), this is the most famous place in Florence. With Brunelleschi's dome and Vasari's cupola masterpiece, it looks very elegant and magnificent.