Florence Travel Guide
Introduction to Florence
While it is one of the most picturesque cities in Italy when it comes to the beauty of its buildings and public spaces, and possesses cultural importance in that it birthed the Renaissance period and reinvented currency in the form of the gold florin, Florence is primarily on the radar of visitors for one reason: a certain statue.
While it is a worthy travel goal, we implore you to take your time in this polished gem, as its plazas, gardens and streets will redefine what la bella vita truly means.
Cultural Experiences in Florence
When most tourists come to Florence, their primary objective is usually to see Michelangelo’s David. Perhaps the most famous statue in the history of humankind can be found within Galleria dell’Accademia, an art museum that also contains works from a variety of other talented artists from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Be aware that due to the immense popularity to see this intimately detailed sculpture, ordering tickets several days in advance is highly recommended, especially in peak season.
Another attraction that is an absolute must in this city is the Florence Cathedral. Also known as The Duomo, this church possesses the largest brick dome in the world, and is also one of the largest churches in Italy.
Built in the Gothic style and completed in the 15th century, the interior might be a bit sparser than you might be used to versus other churches in Europe, but this is on purpose, as the architect wanted it to represent the austerity and minimalism present in the committed religious life.
There are a number of highlights within though, which includes frescoes depicting the day of the Last Judgment and scenes from Dante and the Divine Comedy.
The exterior is far more elaborate, as the facade is intricately detailed, and its bronze doors have been imbued with scenes from the life of the Madonna.
Out of all the metropolises in the world, Florence is likely to have one of the fanciest city halls, as it conducts its municipal affairs within the tony confines of Palazzo Vecchio.
Built at the turn of the 14th century in a bid to protect their civil leaders from the threats were putting their safety at risk, today, most of this palatial manor is a museum, though a portion of it is still used by the city’s mayor and council to conduct civil affairs.
Boasting no less than three magnificent courtyards, the highlight of this place is clearly Salone dei Cinquecento, which is a meeting hall flanked on both sides by frescoes that cover the entire surface area of the walls with depictions of past military conquests.
Throughout the remainder of the buildings, little details like sculpture and trim work make this building a place that you’ll spend more time that you budgeted … you won’t mind though, trust us!
Other Attractions in Florence
Looking for a place to observe ordinary Florentines as they go about their day, while checking out some spectacular public art?
Hanging out in Piazza della Signoria is a great way to achieve this goal, as this part of the city has long been at the centre of social and political life in Florence.
As far as statues go, those that were unable to secure a ticket to get into the Galleria dell’Accademia can gaze upon a replica of Michelangelo’s David here, in addition to admiring other notable highlights like the Fountain of Neptune and Perseus with the Head of Medusa.
Can’t get enough sculpture? Combine it with greenery by taking a walk through the Boboli Gardens. While most of the statues here date from the 16th century, some pieces harken all the way back to the Roman era.
With oak tree and hedge lined promenades and a grotto adding to the ambiance, heading here is the perfect way to spend a beautiful summer day in Florence.
Looking for a souvenir to remind you of your time in this timeless Italian city? Walk across Ponte Vecchio, a covered bridge that is lined with jewelry, art and craft vendors.
Be sure to patronize the merchants here generously, as it was here where the word “bankruptcy” was invented.
Derived from the Italian word bancorotto, it literally means broken table, which is what happened to vendors that were hopelessly behind on their bills. With a shattered bench, they could no longer peddle their wares at Ponte Vecchio, which left them in an even worse spot financially.