In order to fully experience the magic of Florence you will have to dedicate, ideally, 4-5 days. The city offers extra options, such as shopping at the local Mercato Centrale market, evening outings in the beautiful Oltrarno area, a tour in Palazzo Pitti & the Boboli Gardens, attendance at a traditional Wine Tour in Tuscany and more. Florence offers a slew of attractions and activities, so that you will certainly not find yourselves wondering “What do we do now?”!
Palazzo Pitti & Boboli Gardens
Crossing Ponte Vecchio, towards Arno’s south side, the road will lead you to yet another impressive renaissance building, Palazzo Pitti. Even though its exterior does not come close in beauty to palaces such as the ones of Versailles or Hofburg, its interior adornment hides plenty of surprises. Every floor hosts a different “museum”, with paintings, garments, sculptures and porcelains, placed almost on top of one another. After you finish the long visit at the palace, take a walk around its lush green yard, namely the renowned Boboli gardens. In Florence’s largest oxygen source, apart from moments of relaxation, you can roam among arcades, fountains, statues and enjoy the wonderful panoramic view of the city. The Boboli gardens are connected to the Belvedere fortress, while they are also the starting point of the famous secret passageway Vasari Corridor.
Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
Open: Palace: Tuesday-Sunday 08:15-18:50 / Gardens: Every day 08:15-16:30 (winter season), 08:15-19:30 (summer season) – Last entry 1 hour before closing. Closed: Palace: Monday, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th / Gardens: The first and last Monday of every month, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th
Cost: Palace: 8.50€, reduced 4.25€ / Gardens: 7.00€, reduced 3.50€ / Free with the Firenze Card.
The know it all says: Every year, around 1,000,000 tourists visit the gardens!
Basilica di Santa Croce
The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is among the most notable churches in Florence. It is located at one of the most central squares and stands out because of its imposing marble façade. Stepping into its enormous interior space you will find 16 chapels decorated with frescos, sculptures and paintings of great Italian artists like Giotto and Donatello. But its high visit rates are not only owed to its artistic adornment, but also to the tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and others, while the impressive cenotaph of the Italian poet, Dante, is also a crowd-magnet. After the tour, enjoy some coffee or ice-cream in one of the square’s shops and take a brief walk in the surrounding area.
Suggested visit time: 30 minutes-1 hour
Open: Monday – Saturday 09:30-17:00, Sunday and holidays 14:00-17:00
Closed: January 1st, Easter, June 13th, October 4th, December 25th & 26th
Cost: Standard 6€, Reduced 4€, Free with the Firenze Card.
The know it all says: In Michelangelo’s tomb, almost his entire family is buried!
The first thing that comes to mind when we hear about Tuscany is the picturesque county with the thousands of vineyards. As expected, getting to know the local wine-culture is a must. The tour in the world of wine (Wine tour) may be simple, with a walk around the vineyards and some wine-tasting, or more complex, with a walk in the cellars and the vineyard, food, tasting of dozens of wines and many gifts. The prices, of course, range according to the variety. There are dozens of wineries and many many packages. Notice: You should make reservations at least 1 week before your visit, otherwise you might not find a spot or –even worse- pay double…Bottoms up.
Suggested visit time: 3-5 hours
Open: Every day
Cost: 100-450€ / person
The know it all says: Italy is the first country worldwide in wine production!
Artemio Franchi Stadium (Fiorentina FC stadium)
The historic Artemio Franchi stadium has been hosting football matches for more than eight decades (!). It belongs to the city’s official team –Fiorentina FC- and it is a great choice for you to feel the rhythm of the Serie A. The Violas’ old stadium is not “noteworthy”, as both its exterior and interior are not in good condition. But the affordable tickets encourage those who love the sport and want to have a first contact with the Italian championship. For tickets visit ONLY the official –collaborating- website of the team. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the stadium occasionally hosts American football matches, which, as a matter of fact, are very popular.
Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
Open: Every Sunday, during home ground games
Cost: 20-200€ (depending on the seat)
The know it all says: Just two years after its construction, it hosted matches of the World Cup (1934)!
In a quiet neighborhood, outside of the city center, you will find the Stibbert museum. It is a special museum, which includes a vast collection of armors, weapons, paintings and uniforms of knights and prominent figures. It is quiet, due to low visit rates, while part of it is housed in the residence of the very wealthy collector F. Stibbert. The tour takes place with the help of a guide, who performs the main presentation of the exhibits in Italian (only general information is provided in English). So, if you do not speak the language, let your imagination flow. Upon finishing the tour -1.5 hours- do not miss the chance to take a walk around the museum’s gardens, which are filled with small temples, caves and fountains.
Suggested visit time: 1.5-2 hours
Open: Monday-Wednesday 10:00-14:00, Friday-Sunday 10:00-18:00 Closed: Every Thursday, January 1st, May 1st, Easter Sunday, August 15th & December 25th
Cost: Standard 8€, Children 4-12yo 6€, Children -4yo Free, Free with the Firenze Card.
The know it all says: The collection includes around 50,000 artifacts!
On the south side of the Arno River there is the well-known, yet unknown, Oltrarno district. You will certainly meet its rich and regal side, as it includes the impressive Boboli gardens, the Palazzo Pitti, villas, museums, as well as the famous Michelangelo square. But if you walk away from the streets of the church of the Holy Spirit, you will encounter a different neighborhood, which has maintained the old, traditional atmosphere of Florence. The tour brought to our minds moments of Rome’s Trastevere, as the two neighborhoods have many things in common. Houses, narrow alleys, small shops and restaurants with local products compose a quaint Italian picture that simply has to get in your travel photo album. Visit it during the day but especially at night, as then you will have the chance to have fun with the locals (Piazza Santo Spirito).
Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
The know it all says: The Arno River is 241km long; it is the largest river in Tuscany and the third largest river in Italy!
If you are looking for a place where you can taste and buy traditional products, the only thing you have to do is visit the central municipal market. It is located very close to the cathedral (Duomo), and it is favored both by locals and tourists. Entering the space, the smells and scents will open your appetite, while you will not be able to decide what to pick first, due to the wide variety. On the ground floor of the covered market there are booths with an array of fresh vegetables-fruits, dairy products and meats, while on the first floor you will find the renovated space with the dozens of restaurants. Around the Mercato Centrale is the open market of San Lorenzo, where you will find leather items and souvenirs. Visit it to try local delicacies and feel like a local.
Suggested visit time: 3-4 hours
Open: Market (ground floor): Monday-Friday 07:00-14:00, Saturday 07:00-14:00 & 16:00-19:00 Dining area (1st floor): 08:00-00:00
The know it all says: It was built by Giuseppe Mengoni, the Italian architect who also designed the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan!
West of the historic center, outside of the tourist pathways, you will find the Ognissanti Church. It is a small and quiet church, which only a few know, but which manages to impress everyone once they visit it. It graces the homonymous square with an externally ordinary appearance, but its interior is adorned with some excellent works of art, such as the last supper by Ghirlandaio, Giotto’s crucifixion and Botticelli’s tomb. The serenity and simplicity combined with the colors and the frescos create a unique atmosphere of reverence, hard to experience in the tourist-filled churches of the center. Try to visit it, even if it is out of your way, while if you are lucky you might stumble upon a wedding or event.
Suggested visit time: 30 minutes-1 hour
Open: Chapel: Monday and Saturday 09:00-13:00 Church: Every day 09:30-12:30 & Wednesday 16:00-17:00
The know it all says: Botticelli was buried at the feet of his beloved Simonetta, 34 years after her death!
Florence is called by many “The city of the Medici”, due to the role that their house played in the history of the city. So, in the Basilica of San Lorenzo you will find the family’s mausoleum, also known as the Medici chapel. You can enter only through the church, this is why you should be informed about the opening hours of both. The chapel consists of three parts, the most major ones being the Cappella dei Principi, with the fancy ceiling fresco, and the Sagrestia Nuova with the three great sculptures crafted by Michelangelo for the Medici family. Visit it early in the morning or before closing, as the space is narrow and a crowded tour is not a pleasant one.
Notice: It is quite expensive if you do not have the Firenze Card and you will be disappointed by the construction work taking place.
Suggested visit time: 1 hour
Open: Every day 08:15-18:00 Closed: The 2nd and 4th Sunday / the 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of every month, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th
Cost: 8€, reduced 4€, Free with the Firenze Card.
The know it all says: The Medici family hosted and supported many young artists and scientists, such as Michelangelo, Botticelli and Galileo!
Bardini Villa & Gardens
In the Oltrarno district, between the Boboli gardens and the Michelangelo square, you will find the Bardini Villa and its gardens. Even though it is very easy to go past its entrance, as it is not different from the buildings of the neighborhood, a small sign will show you the way. The 60 rooms of the villa host temporary exhibitions and two small museums. The decoration as well as the number of exhibits compared to the fee might disappoint you. What will certainly not let you down is the panoramic view of Florence and its lush green gardens. Steal some time to walk among the narrow streets and enjoy the quiet, away from the crowds of the city center.
Suggested visit time: 1-2 hours
Open: Villa: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-19:00 / Gardens: 08:15-16:00 (winter season), 08:15-19:30 (summer season) Closed: Villa: Every Monday / Gardens: The first and last Monday of every month, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th
Cost: Villa: 8€, reduced 6€ / Gardens: 10€ (it includes access to some museums of Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli gardens), reduced 5€, Free with the Firenze Card.
The know it all says: Inside the gardens you will find 60 different species of hydrangea!
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