Florence is small enough to explore the centre on foot and well worth doing so. It’s pleasant renaissance buildings and streets are steeped in history and it’s difficult not to stumble over a museum, famous artwork or building attributed to the Medici family. Here are some things not to miss during your time there.
The gallery was originally owned and built up by the Medici family in Florence. Whilst some of the key renaissance works are now housed elsewhere, it still holds collections from Giotto, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Lippi and Bronzino and some early work from Leonardo.
Galleria della Accademia
The Accademia is best known for it’s most famous artwork – the sculpture of Michelangelo’s David. It’s utterly beautiful and worth spending some time to take in this amazing piece.
Another interesting gallery is the ‘Prisoners’ Gallery’ which contains part finished sculptures which Michelangelo was unable to complete before his death in 1564. The figures contained in their blocks of marble look as though they are trying to escape and it’s possible to see the individual chisel marks made by the master himself.
The gallery contains works by many of the masters – and can be appreciated, even by my own inexpert eye: Filippino Lippi, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzo di Credi, Benozzo Gozzoli, Sandro Botticelli and Giotto.
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence. It has shops built along it with a couple of points where you can look out over the river Arno on its journey through Florence. It’s very beautiful, especially at dusk when the shops, primarily goldsmiths light up and the jewellery shines through onto the darkened streets. Originally they were mainly butchers and tanners. I’m very glad that has changed!
There is a corridor along the top of the shops which runs from the Palazzo Vecchio, through the Ufuzzi Gallery to the Palazzo Pitti. Built in 1564 so that The Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici could move freely between his residence and government buildings.
The ice-cream in Florence is amazing. Italians are known for good ice-cream. Even the windows of shops selling ice-cream are a beautiful sight. It is built up into a high mound and decorated with fruit to indicate the flavour. There are so many flavours so aim to sample as many as possible!
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
Or the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower, more commonly referred to as Il Duomo di
Firenze – the cathedral of Florence. Famous for the dome engineered
by Filippo Brunelleschi, the outside of the cathedral is probably the most beautiful. The elaborate façade is decorated with multicoloured marble.
The dome, completed in 1436, remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.