Florence, Cradle of the Renaissance

Click the thumbnails below to read more about what to see, things to do, where to eat, and getting around in Florence.

Florence, the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’ and capital of Tuscany, is an energetic city filled with tremendous art and architecture.  Founded by the Romans in 59 BC, Florentia as they called their fair city, has a wealth of historical sites – monuments, museums, galleries, churches, and numerous other points of interest, including but not limited to the following:

Palazzo Vecchio  – also known as Palazzo della Signoria, a 14th century palace and center of Florentine government, which still serves as the City Hall.  Palazzo Vecchio is also a civic museum housing an impressive collection of artwork. When you visit, you may notice the statue of Michelangelo’s David standing at the entrance, a replica placed here in 1910.  The original, which stood here from 1504 to 1873, is now in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

Ponte Vecchio – the Old Bridge (lined with merchant stalls) that crosses the Arno River, connecting the northern part of the city with the Oltrarno neighborhood to the south.

Santa Maria Novella – one of the oldest Basilicas in Florence, now one of the city’s Civic Museums displaying a nice collection of religious art.

Museo Casa di Dante – Dante’s House Museum honoring Florentine poet Dante Alighieri author of ‘Divine Comedy’.

Duomo Florence

Il Duomo – the spectacular Cathedral of Florence with its Brunelleschi designed dome.

Battistero di San Giovanni – the Baptistery of Saint John

Galleria degli Uffizi – the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most renowned art museums in the world.

Galleria dell’Accademia – the Gallery of the Academy, a museum of art associated with the Academy of Fine Arts.  Home to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ among many other notable works.

Palazzo Pitti – an immense art gallery housed in the Pitti Palace, former residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany.

Flrorence Arno River

Located on the Arno RiverFirenze (as Florence is known in Italian) was home to the ruling Medici family and it was in part due to their patronage of art and architecture that the Italian Renaissance was born.  Some of the artists commissioned by the Medici rulers and popes include Sandro Botticelli, Da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael and Rubens, and you’ll see their work throughout the city.

View of florence

The whole of Florence’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you may not get around to seeing it all. It’s worth spending at least 2 full days exploring what you can.

Travel Tip:  The Firenze Card offers free admission to numerous sites in and around Florence, as well as, free public transportation.  Valid for 72 hours, the card costs 50€ and can be purchased at select museums, tourist office locations and online via the official website.  Purchase voucher must be presented in order to collect your card at specific pick-up locations. See website for details and a list of museums and monuments associated with the Firenze Card.

Sunset in Florence from Gunther Machu on Vimeo.

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