Florence is the perfect destination for both tourists and travelers. There’s enough museums, galleries and churches to tour and enough mountains, rivers and hidden towns to explore and wander. This guide below summarizes the most popular places you need to check off your bucket list before you revisit as a gypsy (like I will…as soon as I have the money…).
The Florence Cathedral (Il Duomo)
Located in Piazza del Duomo, this thing is so big that even if you try not to see it, you will. It’s like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, only more awe-inspiring. The Florence Cathedral took 120 years to build. 120 YEARS. It’s longer than any of us will ever live. Not only does the Cathedral have rich history, it is an absolutely beautiful church. You can also climb the 400+ steps high dome to have a breathtaking view of the city. It’s an extremely exhausting climb, but totally worth the trouble.
The Ponte Vecchio (literally translated to the Old Bridge) is one of the many bridges over the Arno River that connects two parts of Florence. This bridge is the most popular bridge in Florence because of both its history and the fact that it is lined by really expensive shops that I couldn’t afford. The most significant aspects of the Ponte Vecchio is the Vasari Corridor built over the bridge that was once a private route for a Medici king to walk from his home (Pitti Palace) to his office (Palazzo Vecchio) . The Ponte Vecchio also has fences with love locks (for those who are looking to avoid the mainstream Paris love lock).
This was the highlight of my tour Florence tour. The Vasari Corridor is a long not-so-secret passageway built over the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) for a Medici King who was afraid of walking over the bridge because the people would curse him. At this point in time, the Vasari Corridor is closed to the general public and only special tours can get you access to that corridor. Even though for most people (especially those who don’t appreciate history or art) the Vasari Corridor will be kind of disappointing, the mere act of walking through it is some experience. All the paintings, sculptures and furniture inside the Vasari Corridor is original and unprotected i.e. no alarms, no cameras, nothing (for reasons I don’t know.) Man I’d love to do that again…
The Uffizi Gallery is the place where Dante Alighieri was once mayor. It’s extremely old and well-preserved with tons of paintings by legendary artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Boticelli etc. I had zero knowledge of art and painting and Da Vinci was almost a fictional character for me until I visited the Uffizi Gallery. If you’re like me, clueless but curious, then there’s a LOT to learn and marvel at in the Uffizi Gallery. My favorite painting in the Uffizi Gallery was the Birth of Venus by Boticelli and L’Annunciation by Leonardo Da Vinci.
House of Dante
This is a lesser known tourist spot in Florence but worth the trip nonetheless. The House of Dante is a probably a 15-minute stop. There’s not much to really see but it holds some significance in history. The House of Dante is also the place where the love of Dante’s life, Beatrice is buried. It’s a small house in a random corner on the via Dante Alighieri street and is now used as a church for the locals. Right next to the tomb of Beatrice sits a basket full of notes, wishes and letters from people with broken hearts. Legend has it that people leave these messages to ask Beatrice to help heal their hearts. This place was quite sad but it’s always good to feel a mix of emotions when on a tour. So take this detour!
Piazza Della Repubblica
The Piazza (meaning square) is surrounded by a historic building with an arched gate through which you can make your dramatic entrance. It is also an amazing photo site. Anyway, the Piazza comes alive at night. It has some of the best Florentine cafes and restaurants as well as several music artists and performers that are lost somewhere during the day. It is a wonderful place to spend the night with someone you love – quite romantic. But even otherwise, this city square gives you the real Florence feeeels…
The Boboli Gardens
I had read so much about the beauty of the Boboli Gardens but most unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see this from inside. The Boboli Gardens is a park with tons of sculptures, lots of greenery and water coming from an ancient irrigation system. This is probably one of the very few outdoor museums in Italy. Apart from that, I think parks are a wonderful place to chill.
Not exactly a place, the streets of Florence are something worth experiencing when in Florence. Just grab a sandwich and/or gelato and walk around the city center for a couple hours, either early morning or after sunset. It will be a walk like no other. Whether you’re alone, with your partner or a group, the walk in the streets of Florence is surely an experience on its own.