If you’ve only got a few days in Florence, you’ll want to pack in as many sights as you can. So once you’ve checked in at the hostel, dropped your bags off in the room and headed off into the city, what should you go and see?
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (aka il Duomo)
The world’s 4th largest cathedral. Construction began in 1296: such a gravity-defying design, with a dome that size, had not been attempted since the building of the Pantheon. Filippo Brunelleschi took up the “Duomo” challenge in 1418, devising some new building techniques along the way, but sadly, he died before the final stages of construction were completed. The cathedral is completely covered with green, white and pink marble (now sparkling after a recent clean) and the interior is adorned with incredible frescoes and Donatello’s stained glass windows. The “Campanile di Giotto” (the bell tower), is the most striking feature of any view of the city: Giotto, the famous painter and architect designed the tower, however, by his death, in 1337, only the lowest part had been completed.
The most important civil building in town. Pay the entry fee to see some of the best preserved ceiling frescoes, or just stick your head in the front door to take a snoop!
One of the three bridges in the world occupied by shops, and Florence’s oldest. Spared from destruction during
WWII because of its age and artistic relevance, it has withstood floods and hordes of tourists during the centuries and the dazzling jewellers you see today are a far cry from the stinky butcher shops and blacksmiths that originally occupied it. Above the shops, there is a hidden walkway, linking Palazzo Pitti to the Uffizi, once used by the Medici family to avoid the public.
Santa Croce Church
It contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and many other legendary artists. Visit the
historical workshops in the narrow street in front of the church, to see how some antique arts of the renaissance, such as mosaics and ceramics are still practiced today.
The Uffizi Gallery
Giotto, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Fra Angelico and the list goes on and on… Perhaps the most famous art history museum in the world, with a collection second only to that of the Vatican. Built between 1560-1580, it needs a solid few hours on its own to get around! Make sure you book in advance to beat the queues, especially in the summer months: http://www.uffizi.org/
The Accademia Gallery
Believe it or not, there are three “Davids” in Florence! The original one, sculptured by Michelangelo in 1501 at the age of 26, was moved inside the Accademia gallery in 1873, to prevent it from weather damage. However, this did not stop one hot-headed visitor, Piero Cannata, who in 1991 chopped off David’s left toe with a gemstone hammer. It was eventually re-attached, and security tightened up. To visit David, you can queue or book your ticket online, or just visit the copy standing in Piazza Signoria, or the bronze version in Piazzale Michelangelo. http://www.accademia.org/
This magnificent palace is another one of Brunelleschi’s masterpieces. It was bought unfinished by the Medici family in 1550, when they felt they needed to move from the more defensive looking Palazzo Vecchio. They enlarged the already extensive building and developed the gardens behind it. The residential rooms of the Family have now been transformed into highly regarded art galleries which include collections of silver and porcelain artefacts, modern art and antique costumes.
Piazzale Michelangelo is located on a hill on the south bank of the Arno river, above the Ponte Vecchio and offers a stunning view of the city…. It’s definitely worth the climb!
So there you have it, a whistle-stop tour of Florence so you can now tell all your friends that you’ve seen some of the greatest treasures Europe has to offer. You’ve definitely earned that pizza in the hostel’s restaurant – and don’t forget to ask our awesome reception team for even more tips!