Photo Credit: Heidi Kaden
A Guide To Spending One Day In Florence, Italy
Florence is an Italian city known for its architecture and Renaissance art that speaks to its history. It’s a great place for tourists because there are so many things to see and do there. From perusing the exhibits of a historical museum to browsing the local produce at a Florentine market, it’s the perfect place to spend a day trip to Italy.
Things to see and do in Florence
Tourists can learn about the city’s history at Palazzo Vecchio, a popular destination known as the town hall building. There, visitors can tour the site to see the Salone dei Cinquecento, with its nearly 80-foot ceiling decorated with allegories and scenes that pay tribute to the city’s history and relationship to the infamous Medici Family.
Art lovers will enjoy the Accademia Gallery, home to the renowned Michelangelo sculpture “David“. And at the city’s center is the Piazza Della Repubblica, where you can eat at popular restaurants where many well-known artists gathered to dine long ago.
One of the best things about Florence is its food. Nessun Dorma is a famous restaurant in the seaside villages of Cinque Terre. They serve fresh, high-quality meals like their handmade pesto, a customer favorite. And La Vecchia Bettola is another popular eatery specializing in authentic Tuscan cuisine, from local cured meats to traditional vodka sauce penne.
With so much to see and do in Florence, navigating the entire city with limited time can be difficult. Fortunately, you can still cover everything on your Florence itinerary in a short time. Exploring the amazing city is easier than ever, from walking tours to easily accessible public transportation. Here are seven places you have to visit in one day in Florence:
1. Piazza Della Signoria
The “David” sculpture by Michelangelo, for example, was constructed to symbolize the Republic’s rejection of the corrupt and oppressive Medici family, who ruled over Florence from 1434 to 1737. Sitting beside it is Bandinelli’s “Hercules and Cacus” sculpture, which the Medici family appropriated to exert their dominance following their return from exile.
To see a larger collection of sculptures, the Loggia dei Lanzi is an open art gallery that features a number of statues and statuettes from prominent artists.
2. Uffizi Gallery
Uffizi Gallery is a well-known museum that houses an extensive collection of artwork from renowned artists, including Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. From paintings to architecture to prints and drawings, the museum draws locals and tourists of all ages.
The museum is also home to many Roman sculptures, like the well-known “Portrait of a Man,” modeled after the Roman emperor Gallienus. And fans of Roman mythology will love the “Mars Gradivus” statue that features Mars, the god of war.
If you like Renaissance art, the museum boasts several exhibits that include a number of pieces, such as “San Giovenale Triptych” by Masaccio or “Madonna and Child” by Lorenzo di Giovanni di Nofri.
The gallery is popular with tourists so it’s important to purchase advance tickets on the official website to avoid waiting in long lines.
3. Ponte Vecchio
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Florence is Ponte Vecchio, which translates as “Old Bridge” in Italian. It became the only bridge across the Arno River to survive World War II, even though the surrounding buildings were demolished. Now, it serves as a historical site where people can take in stunning views of the glistening waters below.
You might catch a special event underneath Ponte Vecchio, where many Florentine locals hold live theater presentations and musical concerts. And couples who want a more intimate experience can take a boat tour to see up-close views of the famous bridge and Florentine city.
4. Boboli Gardens
Located behind the Pitti Palace are the Boboli Gardens, a natural oasis filled with ancient statues and water fountains. The Buontalenti Grotto is the largest of three grottoes in the garden. Realized by Bernardo Buontalenti, it’s the best place to capture the beauty of Florentine history.
The gardens’ main attraction is the basin that houses “The Fountain of Neptune.” Visitors can snap photos of the bronze statue of Neptune, whose construction dates as far back as the 1500s. In addition, Isolotto is a large pond that features “The Fountain of the Ocean,” another impressive water fountain created by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna.
You can experience the entire garden with the help of a guided tour. During the walking tour, visitors can explore the natural wonderland and learn interesting facts about it, including the Cypress trees and different plant species that reside inside it.
5. Mercato Centrale
On the first floor of the famous San Lorenzo Market is Mercato Centrale, a site where tourists come to celebrate food in true Florentine style. The market is home to a number of food and drink vendors, restaurants, and shops to explore.
The best way to try an authentic Tuscan meal is at Tosca, a tourist favorite that serves some of the best Italian foods in the city. Their Mugellan tortelli is made with fresh pasta, and the Tuscan liver crostini is a savory and crunchy treat.
You might even consider taking a cooking class at the Lorenzo de’ Medici cooking school. The school offers courses on how to make pasta, pizzas, pastries, and more. You can even take a full market tour experience to peruse the market and learn about ingredients to purchase and sample.
6. Piazza Del Duomo
For a taste of history, Piazza del Duomo is a bustling square where tourists can explore several historical buildings, including a museum dedicated to renowned art that spans over seven centuries.
Giotto’s Bell Tower is one of four key monuments at Piazza del Duomo. Take a picture of the nearly 300-foot marble sculpture, with its 14th-century Gothic architectural design. Also in the city square is the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, the third largest cathedral in the world.
The Baptistry of San Giovanni is another historical site, known for its inlaid marble exterior and decorated bronze doors. Inside, visitors will find an enormous 26-foot illustration of Christ at the Last Judgement, complete with angels, apostles, prophets, saints, Mary and John the Baptist, and even the devil.
7. Piazzale Michelangelo
Constructed in 1869 by Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi, the Piazzale Michelangelo is a popular tourist attraction for fans of the renowned artist Michelangelo. The site was designed to pay homage to him and his many art pieces. At the Piazzale Michelangelo, you can find replicas of his famous sculpture “David” and his Medici Chapel sculptures.
Tourists also enjoy the piazza’s panoramic views of the Florentine city. After exploring the city, it’s the perfect place to unwind and spend the rest of the day. The best time to visit is in the late afternoon when the sun starts to set and project a golden glow over the city.
The views at La Loggia, a coffee bar and restaurant at Piazzale Michelangelo, are just as stunning. Try their Florentine steak, known for its nearly month-long, dry-aged process.
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