This Renaissance gem and city of the Medicis kept us enthralled for a whole day. Traffic is banned in part of the historic centre, so visitors can wander at leisure and admire the city’s timeless beauty in relative peace and quiet. Our tour had a walking tour with a Local Guide that features most of the city highlights. We got to see Piazza Santa Croce; beautiful Piazza Signoria; Palazzo Vecchio; Loggia dei Lanzi; and, to top it all, Piazza del Duomo and its cathedral with the Giotto Campanile, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as the “Gate of Paradise.”
I don’t think I need to say much about Florence…after all, Florence is Florence. It’s not only the capital of Tuscany but it’s also the capital of Renaissance art and rich culture. In fact, Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and was the most important city in Europe for couple centuries in the Middle Ages. Florentine architects from that era also invented Renaissance and neo-Classical architecture which later gained much popularity in whole Europe. Scientists and explorers like Galileo and Amerigo Vespucci are just to name some more Florence’s talented sons. This is also the city where Opera was invented. And finally, dominating artists like Leonardo and Michelangelo called Florence or Firenze their home.
Located in Italy’s irresistible region Toscana (or Tuscany) and by romantic Arno River, Florence is a city with endless enchantment sites and timeless tranquility. It’s not easy to escape the spell of Florence when you are surrounded by such astonishing culture. It is one of those places that offers too much to its visitors and one of those cities that is sophisticated with very down to earth mood. When you enter Florence, you enter the Renaissance time…that connection with time is made instantly and involuntarily. It’s hard not to wander off and be distracted with Florence’s mesmerizing history and atmosphere.
We began with a stop at Duomo- Cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiore. Located just down the street from our drop off, we found ourselves stopping here quite often. It is just so magnificent, you can’t help but stop, stare, and snap a few more pictures. And you can’t miss it–it’s right in the heart of the city and I believe is the tallest structure around. Trust me, it won’t disappoint! Make sure you buy a ticket inside and climb the tower–especially if it’s a clear day!
The next stop we made was at the Uffizi Gallery. This is a must stop and is often very busy! Just around the corner from Uffizi Gallery is Ponte Vecchio. Surrounded by the ultimate grandeur Ponte Vecchio is the oldest and most famous bridge over River Arno. It’s a pedestrian bridge with beautiful views of River Arno on the both sides, if you can manage to see the river over the countless jewelry stores and tourists.
You’ve all seen pictures of this famous bridge, and it really is quite a beauty. We were there on a spotty-day. The clouds were pretty grey and we were getting just small glimpses of blue sky but it was still amazing and so picturesque.
Not too far from Ponte Vecchio is Piazza della Signoria. This is one of the central squares. There is an old palace across from some Michelangelo copies and other famous sculptures. It’s going to be near impossible to explore through Florence and NOT come across Piazza della Signoria. We passed through it on numerous occasions and I loved it every time. Palazzo Vecchio is worth a visit and is right there in Piazza della Signoria. It’s also in the heart of ancient Florence. There is a lot of history in that square and it’s now known for its quaint little carousel. It’s fun for the kids and people watching. And bonus, there is some fun shopping nearby.
Another stop we made in Florence was at the Galleria dell’ Accademia. This was a bucket list item for me, home to several of Michelangelo’s sculptures and most notably, the famous “David”. Walking around the corner of that beautiful gallery and seeing David majestically calling out on the other end of the hall was one of the most memorable moments of my life. It is hands-down something you must experience while in Florence. Again, it’s safest and cheapest to get your tickets ahead of time!
Check out our tour video here: