How many days to spend in Florence
(3 days through monuments,churches and museums)
How many days to visit Florence? This is one of the most common questions that people ask me, and it is the first thing that travelers question themselves before visiting Florence.
It is an important question and the answer is far from obvious.
Probably, to visit all Florence a life is not enough, there are so many places and museums to be visited, histories to be discovered, foods to be tasted and experiences to be lived.
I could say that to have a good idea of the city and its artistic heritage you need at least a week. But it is evident that travelers don't often have so much time especially if they also want to visit other cities during their trip.
So the ideal duration of a vacation in Florence depends on other factors too, such if it is the first time that you visit the city or if you have already been there.
Perhaps the correct answer doesn't exist, but I will try to help you decide how much days to spend in Florence.
I would say at least 3 days, above all if it is the first time that you visit Florence. In less than 3 days you risk making a tour de force devoting little time to too many things, without fully appreciating anything.
My itinerary and suggestions to visit Florence in three days
Florence, the Cradle of the Renaissance, the art, the history, the good food, it's all part of the Tuscany chief town.
For how much time you have, it is never enough to see everything that Florence has to offer, but with this itinerary of three days, I want to help you among the thousands of proposals of the city.
You'll find art, good food, museums, and shopping. I hope it will be useful.
I don't know you, but when I arrive in a new city, I like to make two things, see it from the highest point and then go see the main square.
For the first day in Florence I'll make you start from the heart of the city, Piazza del Duomo, easily reachable afoot from the station of Santa Maria Novella.
Here you'll find beauty without equal: the Battistero di San Giovanni, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Giotto Bell Tower, the Museo dell’Opera, and the Cripta di Santa Reparata.
While the entry in the Cathedral is free (from the right door of the facade), to enter in the other buildings you have to buy a ticket.
If you have the intention to visit all the above monuments, buy the OPA Pass at € 15, a single ticket for the dome, the crypt under the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Bell Tower and the Museum.
The slope to the Dome of the Brunelleschi is one of the most beautiful experiences that you can do in Florence. If you don't suffer from dizziness or claustrophobia and you are in good form, my suggestion is to climb the 463 stairs that separate you from the summit and its breathtaking sight.
In alternative you can climb the Bell Tower of Giotto: 414 stairs without elevators obviously!
If the art or all those staircases got you hungry, I recommend you to take a break at a "vinaino", a typical local of Florence that serves street food and drinks. Try the "schiacciata" accompanied with a beautiful glass of red wine.
Still in the center of Florence, cross via dei Calzaiuoli, that will take you from the religious power (Piazza Duomo) to the political (Piazza della Signoria) with its shops.
Besides being the principal street of the shopping, it showcases two important churches: Orsanmichele and San Carlo dei Lombardi.
On a parallel road, there is the market of the Porcellino, under the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo. The tradition wants that touching the nose of the piglet brings fortune, even better if you put a coin in its mouth and if falling goes beyond the grate and into the water, it will bring fortune.
You'll finally arrive in Piazza della Signoria, that doesn't need presentations: with Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi and a copy of the statue of the David of Michelangelo (the original one is held in the Galleria dell'Accademia),it is one of the most known squares of the world.
It's just a step away from Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), the only bridge to be saved by the German bombardments during the Second World war and also withstood the 1966 devastating flood.
Don't forget a fundamental stop here: just on a side of the Palazzo Vecchio there is the Uffizi, but we will see it on the second day!
Day 2, Florence and its museums
You cannot say to have been in Florence without having visited the Gallery of the Uffizi, one of the museums more visited of Italy and of the world.
Long queues are often formed to the entry, it is best to book online. I recommend spending all the morning in the Uffizi.
Once ended the visit to the Gallery, remain on this part of the river and walk toward Piazza Santa Croce, where you'll find the homonym gothic style Basilica.
Considered one of the most beautiful churches in Florence, hosts numerous sepulchers of illustrious peoples and the Cappella dei Pazzi, a masterpiece of Brunelleschi.
Outside of the Basilica, on the left, there is the statue of Dante Alighieri.
Not far away there is the National Museum of the Bargello in which is preserved the most important Renaissance collection of sculptures with masterpieces of Donatello, Michelangelo, Luca della Robbia, Verrocchio, and Giambologna.
If you plan to visit different museums in Florence, it is worth to purchase the Florence Card, purchasable online, that gives you access to 72 museums in 72 hours at the price of € 72. You find the list of the adherent museums and all the details on the official site.
Another museum that worth a visit is the Galleria dell'Accademia, that host the original statue of David by Michelangelo and paintings of the greatest Florentine masters.
Lastly, a shopping/food tip. Don't lose the picturesque Market of St. Lorenzo and the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) distributed on two floors.
On the ground floor: butchers, fishmongers, stands of fruit and vegetable.
On the first floor: a wide gastronomic offer, a lot of stands that sell souvenir and leather products.
Day 3, Florence seen by another perspective
Not everyone goes further in this part of the city, yet it is one of the most authentic. I am speaking of the Oltrarno, the left bank of the river Arno.
To reach it you have to cross Ponte Vecchio and walk toward Piazza Pitti and the Garden of Boboli, where you can admire plants, statues, fountains up to Forte Belvedere.
Finally, follow the riverside and then via dei Bardi in the district of St. Niccolò up to San Miniato Door along the ancient walls.
From here, up to Piazza Michelangelo, marvelous at sunset, with a sight without equal of Florence. You can also swing by the beautiful Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte.
Famous churches in Florence Italy
Basilica di Santa Croce and Museum of the Opera
This Franciscan Basilica project started in 1295 by Arnolfo di Cambio. It hosts innumerable artworks, among which the famous frescos of Giotto in the chapels of Peruzzi and Bardi, and it is universally famous because here are buried some of the most illustrious Italian personalities.
To quote, among the most important monuments, Alfieri's grave by Canova, Leonardo Bruni's grave by Rossellino, Carlotta Bonaparte's grave by Bartolini.
Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore
Saint Maria del Fiore, the gothic Cathedral raised over the ancient basilica of Saint Reparata, was projected from Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296. Brunelleschi completed it in 1436 with the elegant Dome, frescoed by Vasari and by Zuccari.
The last intervention on the cathedral, with the conclusion of the facade, dates back to mid '800.
On the right side of the Cathedral rise the Bell Tower, planned by Giotto in 1334, coated with white, greens and red marbles, decorated by tiles and sculptures.
In front of the Cathedral, there is the Baptistery of St. Giovanni (1128) in Florentine Romanesque style, also coated in white and green marble. The inside of the dome is entirely made with mosaics.
The splendid doors in bronze are the work of Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Basilica di San Lorenzo and Medicee's Chapels
The church was consecrated in 393 by Ambrogio bishop of Milan, Cosimo il Vecchio made it enlarge by Brunelleschi. The inside hosts works of Rosso Fiorentino, Desiderio da Settignano, Donatello, and Bronzino.
Place side by side with the church there are the splendid Vecchia Sagrestia by Brunelleschi and the Nuova Sagrestia by Michelangelo (1524), funeral chapel of the Medici family.
The Nuova Sagrestia, together with the baroque Cappella dei Principi, constitute the museum of the Chapels Medicee.
On the left of the church, you can also visit the Michelangelo's Library Mediceo-Laurenziana, wanted by the Medici family to guard their own treasure of papyrus, manuscripts, and books.
Not far away from the complex of St. Lorenzo, there is the Central Market, a renowned example of architecture in iron and glass.
San Marco Convent
Started in 1246 by the monks of the Dominican order it was finished in 1360. The facade, in white and green marbles in Gothic-Romanesque style, was completed by Leon Battista Alberti.
Inside, you can admire splendid masterpieces such the Trinità of the Masaccio, the frescos of Filippino Lippi and those of the Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni's chapel, the Crucifix of Giotto and the wooden Crucifix of the Brunelleschi.
The façade of s. maria novella in florence was designed by
The façade of s. maria novella in Florence was designed by Alberti and it is among the most important works of the Florentine Renaissance. Planned among 1458-1460 but completed only in 1920!
Alberti built its facade over the previous Gothic structures even if its result was a masterpiece of the Renaissance art. Therefore, it was forced from the circumstances to harmonize the previous works limiting his intervention to the central door, to the whole superior part and the angular zones.
To disguise some contradictions of the structure he created a high band with a series of square forms. The secret of the beauty of the façade, in fact, is in the thin net of modular relationships that Alberti rationally studied with mathematical calculations to establish the proportions among the various elements.
Famous museums in Florence Italy
In over 45 rooms, there are numerous works to see, starting from 1200, they reach the contemporary period. The rooms not only follows the chronology, but also the origin of the works that, besides the Italian regions, come from many European states too.
Inside the rooms you can also admire a meaningful collection of ancient statues that date back from the II century to 1800. It's a series of masterpieces that need a deepened visit.
Once on the second floor, you must stop in the room n. 2 devoted to Giotto and the art of the '200. Cimabue, Duccio da Boninsegna, and Giotto, with three works chronologically related, yet deeply different.
Is the return of the perspective and the beginning of the end of the medieval age. It is absolutely necessary to contemplate the Madonna di Ognissanti by Giotto, recognized above all as a great expression of art for the realism of the face of Maria and the other figures all displayed in their entirety.
The Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano, in the room 5, is another masterpiece to see for its sparkling and vivacious colors and for the great care of the particular that fill the scene.
A special appreciation deserve the rooms devoted to Sandro Botticelli where the Birth of Venus and the Spring can be admired, always surrounded by a crowd of tourists. The masterpieces of the Botticelli manifest, in their simplicity, a majesty, and an incomparable beauty.
Also, the genius of Leonardo is represented here in the room 15 with its splendid Annunciation, to notice it is the angel set in the side part of the painting that expresses a particular sweetness and some scholar recognize the young Leonardo.
Michelangelo, in the room 25, you'll find some of his works such the famous Tondo Doni. In the following rooms, you'll see the Madonna dal Collo Lungo del Parmigianino, while in the room 28, devoted to Tiziano, you'll admire the 1538 Venere by Urbino, a work where the master introduces the female body its charm and sensuality.
The run continues in the corridor of the Roman and Greek Statues. It's a meaningful collection that the Medici have picked up in the years of their dominion.
Among the sculptures worthy of attention there is the Venere nella Tribuna and the Porcellino. Besides, from these galleries, you can enjoy a suggestive sight of the city.
The new Blue and Red rooms, located on the first floor, introduce the works of foreign artists and paintings by Bronzino, Andrea del Sarto, and Raffaello with his beautiful Madonna del Cardellino.
The last rooms of the Museum host Caravaggio and the Caravaggeschi works and they represent very well the juvenile phase of the master (Bacco, the Testa di Medusa, and the Sacrificio di Isacco: three authentic masterpieces).
The immense exposure that guards the Uffizi is really awesome and propose a visual walk that spaces through centuries of history.
A gallery without equal that attract visitors from the whole world. The collections of the Medici have been enriched in the years by legacies, exchanges, and donations.
You'll be ahead to a superb collection of artworks of inestimable value. The presence of the most famous names of the history of the Italian art, make of the Uffizi one of the Italian museums more visited.
Palazzo Pitti Museum
Palazzo Pitti, an unmistakable masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, offers an incomparable Museum.
Many are the exposition spaces inside Palazzo Pitti and each of them offer extraordinary paths among a myriad of masterpieces of all the epochs.
The Appartamenti Monumentali, the Galleria Palatina, the Galleria del Costume, the Museo degli Argenti, the Museo delle Porcellane and the Museo delle Carrozze.
The Appartamenti Monumentali is composed of fourteen rooms that constituted part of the Medici's residence.
The Galleria Palatina, focused above all on the sixteenth and seventeenth century, it is one of the most important art galleries of Italy, probably the more visited of Pallazzo Pitti.
Also, the architectural aspect of this museum is of sure impact: the Palatine Gallery is covered with extraordinary works of Renaissance, Mannerism, and Baroque. Even the frames are themselves works of art.
In the Putti Room you'll find Dutch and Flemish by masters such Ruysch and Rubens but the real "strong piece" are the rooms of the gods:
The Room of Saturn preserve the greatest works of Raffaello as the Madonna del Granduca, the very famous Madonna della Seggiola or the Visione di Ezechiele;
In the room of Jupiter you can admire, always by Raffaello, the Velata and the portrait of the Fornarina, the Tre Età dell'Uomo by Giorgione, works of Bronzino and Fra Bartolomeo.
The room of Mars, still Rubens together with an imposing series of portraits works by Van Dyck, Tiziano, Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese.
The Room of Apollo opens with the Maddalena by Tiziano and Sacra Conversazione by Rosso Fiorentino.
While the Room of Venus is the triumph of Tiziano with four of his works. Concerto, the portrait of Giulio II, the Bella and the portrait of Pietro Aretino.
Galleria dell'Accademia, Michelangelo's David
Visited by millions of visitors (the majority of them attracted by the symbol of Florence, the David of Michelangelo) the Gallery is a fundamental stop of the tourist itineraries.
The Gallery of the Academy is one of the more visited of Florence, thanks also to the presence of the most famous sculpture of Michelangelo, the David, moved here from Piazza della Signoria in 1873, so to preserve it.
In Piazza della Signoria there is an exact copy of the famous statue. The gallery is also very known for the presence of other sculptures of Michelangelo, known all over the world: the Quattro Prigioni and the San Matteo.
The history of the Florentine museum is relatively recent, and it begins in 1784, by the will of the Granduca Pietro Leopoldo, that wanted to convert the hospital and the Convent of St. Niccolò into the Gallery, to give the students of the near Academy of Belle Arti a place where they could study.
The first room that you'll see is the Room of the Colossus, whose name derives from one of the Dioscuri of Montecavallo, now guarded in the Istituto d’Arte di Porta Romana.
From the center of the room, you can admire the original sketch in chalk of the Ratto delle Sabine by Giambologna, while on the walls there are various works of the fifteenth-century and sixteenth-century, from Paolo Uccello to Perugino, from Ghirlandaio to Botticelli and Filippino Lippi.
Moving toward one of the most famous parts of the museum, you'll reach the Galleria dei Priogioni commissioned by Pope Giulio II to Michelangelo, but used for all another purpose.
According to the history, in fact, the statues were used by Cosimo I de' Medici to adorn the cave of the Buontalenti and the Garden of Boboli.
In the same room, there are also the Pietà by Palestrina and the San Matteo.
Continue then to the Gallery of the David, with in the center the impressive sculpture of Michelangelo, and to the sides some works of the same artist, almost set to decorate his more known sculpture.
Symbol of Florence, the work is a masterpiece both technical and narrative.