There are many things to do and see in Florence. First of all you can visit the historic center of the city and its most important monuments.
You can start by visiting Piazza del Duomo, a large open-air museum that includes the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera del Duomo Museum.
The nearby Palazzo Vecchio is the heart of the civil power of Florence. It still houses several municipal offices, while the remaining rooms are used as a museum. Here you can admire the Salone dei Cinquecento, the Sala delle Carte geografiche with its maps and the Sala delle Udienze. But Palazzo Vecchio is worth a visit even just from the outside. It is in fact one of the most admirable examples of civil architecture of the fourteenth century, surmounted by the majestic Arnolfo Tower.
Continuing along the Arno river we meet Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges in the world and certainly also one of the most beautiful. Suffice it to say that it was the only one in the city to be spared by the German troops retreating in 1944. The so-called “Vasari Corridor” (designed by Giorgio Vasari, architect in the service of Cosimo I) is the elevated pedestrian path that allowed to pass from the Palace Vecchio, political and administrative heart of the city, to Palazzo Pitti, home of the De ‘Medici family.
Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens represent the historic residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and the largest monumental green area in the city. Several exhibitions take place inside the building. Here we find the Palatine Gallery and the Royal Apartments; the Modern Art Gallery; the Silvers Museum; the Porcelain Museum and the Costume Gallery. Finally we can visit the Boboli Garden which for quantity of landscape views and architectural details could be considered a real open-air museum.
Let’s move on to the Uffizi gallery, which together with the Vatican Museums of Rome is the most visited Italian museum in the world; it preserves and exhibits works by Leonardo, Cimabue, Caravaggio, Giotto, Raffaello, Mantegna, Tiziano, Parmigianino, Rembrandt, Botticelli etc … Definitely worth a visit even if you are not fond of ancient art.
The Accademia Gallery in Florence also hosts priceless masterpieces created by great artists such as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pontorno and others. However, most visitors come in to admire the famous Michelangelo’s David, a statue of over 5 meters of Carrara marble. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock here every year to get a close-up view of this masterpiece of Renaissance art. David is not the only sculpture by Michelangelo in the Accademia Gallery.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most beautiful churches in Florence. Just mention the Crucifix painted by Giotto, the wooden Crucifix sculpted by Brunelleschi and above all the Trinity of Masaccio to realize the artistic and cultural imortance of this church built in the thirteenth century by the Dominican friars. But there is much more to see, such as the Museum and the Grand Cloister, the latter visible on the occasion of extraordinary openings.
Obviously Florence is not only museums and churches, but much more. Piazzale Michelangelo is for example one of those unmissable places in Florence, being the most famous panoramic observation point in the city. The view extends over the entire historic center of the city to the opposite hills of Fiesole and Settignano. In the square there is also a bronze copy of David (another is in Piazza della Signoria, while the original is kept in the Accademia Gallery).
The hills around Florence offer numerous interesting places to see. In fact, there is not only the landscape designed by vineyards and olive groves, but also villas, museums, archaeological excavations, churches, convents, squares and – of course – breathtaking panoramas.
Last but not least, it is not possible to speak about Florence and Tuscany without mentioning its food and wine traditions. The most important traditional foods are: soups, pappa al pomodoro (soup with tomatos), ribollita (soup with bread), beans and chickpeas soup. Among the meats: the famous fiorentina beef steak, hams and sausages. Among the desserts: panforte and cantucci.
For those who love good wines, the territory of Tuscany offers a wide variety and excellent quality: Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino are among the best for red wine lovers, while white wines are Vernaccia, the Galestro and Valchiana. Very good with sweets is the Passito wine.