Ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful places in the world, Florence is a city that stands on top of most people’s wish lists. The art, the tumultuous history of the famous Medici family and the architecture are the main reasons for which you will love Florence. To make your life easier, here’s a curated list of the top 10 Florence tourist attractions you must see when you visit this beautiful city.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza Duomo
The history of the church is almost as intriguing as visiting it. The Cathedral and the Dome remain the evidence of a powerful nation that created art from an age where survival was mankind’s main goal. During the 14th century, Italy was divided into state-cities that were very competitive, sometimes leading to wars, but usually, they were trying to prove their greatness by building monuments that were bigger and more beautiful than any other in the region. Besides the monumental resources involved and the majesty of the results, fine arts are present inside of them. On the inside walls of the cathedral, the painters represent the creation of humans, different mundane activities, arts, the planets, and the sciences.
What better way to start your adventure in Florence than admiring it from above? Piazzale Michelangiolo is a terrace built on a hill south of the historical center which was dedicated to Michelangelo. The view of the city is breathtaking and lets you observe its most iconic monuments – Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello.
Piazza della Signoria and the Loggia dei Lanzi
To answer your political and royal related questions, you must visit Piazza della Signoria. It is an open space square, near the Palazzo Vecchio, where important events from the Medici’s life were celebrated. On the corner of Piazza della Signoria is Loggia dei Lanzi, an open space gallery that is often overlooked by unknowing tourists. While admiring its arcades, you will encounter the facade trefoils with four virtues – fortitude, temperance, justice, and prudence. Under the arcades, there are famous statues – sculptures’ best masterpieces and artworks that mark different beliefs and legends of the city. This is a Florence must-see.
San Lorenzo and Michelangelo Medici Tombs
One of Michelangelo’s masterpieces is the New Sacristy which is the chapel where the Medici family has been buried. The majesty of the unfinished construction is breathtaking – Michelangelo worked for every detail and paid a lot of attention to the light that creates the imposing atmosphere. The ceiling lighting uncovers the sculptures and the sarcophagi on the walls – the statues of Lorenzo, Giuliano, and the four statues of the allegories of Day and Night, Dawn and Dusk. Breathtaking. To learn more about this, we recommend this Medici Family Florence walking tour.
Palazzo Vecchio (Palazzo della Signoria)
At the entrance of Piazza della Signoria, sits the former house of the Medici family: Palazzo Vecchio. It was built to reassure the status of the city, which was the capital at that moment. The palace was intended to protect the famous family in case of war or any other form of turbulence. The interesting aspect of Palazzo Vecchio is the tower that is not centered on the rest of the building – it has been built on the old tower of the Foraboschi family. Palazzo Vecchio gained its new name when the Medici moved to their new residence – Palazzo Pitti and transformed the former palace into the government office. This attraction should be on top of your things to see in Florence list.
Probably the most charming attractions of Florence, Ponte Vecchio is said to exist since the Roman Empire, but it has been rebuilt multiple times to its today’s greatness. It used to be a point of interest for the people because it hosted the butchers and convenience shops, but a decree from 1595 replaced the common products with jewels shops. The Vasari’s Corridor on top of it is currently an art gallery that was used to link the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti; the order for its construction came from the Medici family who needed a quick way between the buildings. Also, did you know that Hitler ordered that Ponte Vecchio not to be affected by bombings during World War II?
Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace) and Boboli Gardens
A symbol of power and influence for the owner, the Palazzo Pitti has been bought by the Medici Family to reconfirm their royal status in Florence and Italy as a whole. The former palace is now a museum that captures the beauty of the era, the development of the arts and their role in italian history. Your visit inside the museum will be a journey where you will get close to the Medici family and their role in Florence’s history.
Santa Maria Novella
If you are an art lover, the Santa Maria Novella church should be on your Florence sightseeing list. Right from the moment you see it, its architecture will leave you wondering about its creation. Inside of it, there are numerous masterpieces that will leave you in awe: Trinità by Masaccio, Ghirlandaio’s fresco cycle in the Tornabuoni Chapel and the Giotto’s Crucifix. You are invited to see and to discover the art treasures inside the first great basilica in Florence and learn more about Florence’s history.
Bargello Palace National Museum
Justice and art? The Bargello Palace is a former prison that has been transformed into a museum where the demons of the past meet the beauty of the present. The imposing building was built in the 13th century to host the military captain responsible for peace and justice and also, had the role of prison and place of execution. In the 19th century, after the ban of the death penalty, the palace was transformed into a museum for sculptures and medieval objects. While you visit it, let yourself time travel and take in the history.
San Lorenzo Market and Mercato Centrale
After wandering the whole day through Florence, a break for a traditional meal or souvenirs is the perfect way to relax and see locals in their habitat. The San Lorenzo Market is an open space and indoor market in which you can buy traditional food, leather objects, or any kind of souvenirs for your friends and family. Did you know that you can ask your seller to give you a vacuum bag for the food you buy? This makes it easier for you to take the food back home. It’s also recommended to bargain for everything you buy because you will likely get a discount. This is one of the best places to visit in Florence if you want to taste the Italian lifestyle.
For all of the attractions mentioned and others, you can buy tickets or book tours from this site.
Now that you have a list of the main attractions you should see on your trip to Florence, you are ready to make the most of your holiday. What is the first thing you will do when you visit Florence?
We recommend you book one of these Florence walking tours that will take you to all the major Florence tourist attractions as well as to place hidden from the eyes of a regular tourist.