What to do in Florence:
Visiting Florence in 24 hours
24 hours in Florence: of course it is worth staying longer in this city, but
you can get an idea of it in just 24 hours. In a single day you can see the main
monuments, by walking around the old centre. Start from the Piazza del Duomo with
the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore work on which was started by Arnolfo di Cambio nel 1296, and completed in 1436
with Filippo Brunelleschi’s masterpiece.
The Dome is the symbol of Florence, a soaring and majestic building from which there
are fantastic views of Florence and also into the interior of the cathedral. Beside
the facade stands another giant, Giotto’s belfry, which is soaring and chromatic
and also has great views of the city. Opposite the cathedral we find the Romanic
San Giovanni Bapistry with its ornate bronze doors by Ghiberti and Andrea Pisano.
Following the busy Via dei Calzaiuoli you come to the Piazza della Signoria,
the political heart of Florence, with the 1200 Palazzo della Signoria or Palazzo Vecchio, now the seat of the city council, and a museum. Stepping
into the internal courtyard you can admire the fountain with Verrocchio’s cherub
and Vasari’s frescoes. On the square of the 14th-century Loggia dei Lanzi , we can admire famous statues like Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines.
The majestic Uffizi, designed by Vasari in the 16th century as the seat of the
Medici Chancellery, is joined to Palazzo Vecchio and is now one of the most important
museums in the world. In the Gallery there are works from all periods from primitive
artists (Cimabue, Giotto) to the Manierists, as well as a compendium of Italian
Renaissance painting with works by Botticelli, Filippo Lippi, Paolo Uccello, Leonardo
Da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Across the bridge you are now on the other side of the Arno, an important concept
in Florence. Three of the city’s historical districts (San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella
and Santa Croce) are on the other side of the Arno with only one, Santo Spirito,on the left bank of the river. The road from the Ponte Vecchio leads to Piazza
Pitti, which is dominated by the facade of the majestic Palazzo of the same name.
Built in the 15th century, it was purchased by Eleonora, wife of the Granduke
Cosimo I and became the new palace for the Medici family who previously lived
in the Palazzo della Signoria. The palace was enlarged and embellished with a
marvellous park, the Boboli Gardens. Palazzo Pitti is the seat of numerous museums
and the garden itself is a museum.
If you still have a little time left, head for the Piazza Santo Spirito where
you can enjoy the lively atmosphere in this part of the city. There are numerous
artisan and craft workshops in this district and you will delight in its authentic
The Piazza Santo Spirito, one of the few squares in the city with trees, is surrounded
by handsome palaces and the church, designed in 1444 by Filippo Brunelleschi which
has stunningly pure architectural lines and many important art works in its interior.
Visiting Florence in 48 hours
If you have two days to visit Florence, then there are many more interesting
things to do and see.
You can take this same itinerary even for one day if you want to see something
different, or it you have already spent a little time in the city.
Not far from the Santa Maria Novella railway station masterpiece of early 20th-century rationalist architecture, you come to the
Basilica which gave the station its name. Santa Maria Novella is the 13th-century church of the Dominican Order and has an elegant white and
green marble facade designed by Leon Battista Alberti. The handsome Gothic interior
has numerous Renaissance frescoes and works of art.
The Museum of Sant Maria Novella is next to the church.
Strolling along narrow alleyways and streets you come to via Tornabuoni, the city’s most elegant street onto which the back of Palazzo Strozzi faces. Commissioned by Filippo Strozzi to Benedetto da Maiano it is one of the
most significant Renaissance buildings in Florence. Is hosts art exhibitions and
has an ample and majestic open courtyard. Heading towards the Piazza della Repubblica
you find yourself in the heart of the city at the time of its foundation by the
Romans: the square as you see it today is the result of 19th-century rebuilding.
If you turn towards, and pass, the Piazza del Duomo, you come to via Martelli
and, after a few metres, another great Renaissance building, Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Cosimo the Elder de' Medici commissioned it to Michelozzo towards the middle
of the 15th century and the Medici family left deep traces on the surrounding
The Palazzo, which is now the seat of the Province of Florence, is also a museum
with monumental rooms and a splendid Chapel frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli; if you
don’t have a lot of time you can at least enjoy the view over the courtyard. Two
places linked to the Palace are the nearby Church of San Lorenzo and the Convent
of San Marco. San Lorenzo was the Medici family chapel; its forms as we can see them today were the work
of Filippo Brunelleschi, and it is an exquisite example of pure Renaissance architecture.
The facade was never finished while inside we can admire many great painted masterpieces.
There are other important buildings around it including the Biblioteca Mediceo
Laurenziana, the Old Sacristy and the Medici Chapels with the New Sacristy which
is one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces. TAll around these there is a clothing and accessories market which is very popular
with tourists. Returning to Palazzo Medici and continuing along via Cavour you come to piazza San Marco, with the church and convent of the same name.
The Convent of San Marco, which belongs to the Dominicans from Fiesole, was the
intellectual heart of the city. Cosimo the Elder invested in extending and embellishing
it, and the Museum di San Marco inside the convent has many Renaissance frescoes
by Beato Angelico; the Library is a masterpiece by Michelozzo.
Not far from the Piazza San Marco we find the Galleria dell'Accademia, one of
Florence’s most visited museums, as it houses Michelangelo’s famous David. But
it also has many other interesting sculptures by Michelangelo and many 13th to
16th-century Tuscan paintings.
Continuing on you come to the harmonious Piazza Santissima Annunziata which is
surrounded by buildings with porticos, the most important being the Spedale degli Innocenti, by the great architect Filippo Brunelleschi.
The Spedale, built in 1440 to take in waifs, is now a museum and has many interesting
rooms. The Church of the Santissima Annunziata dates back to the 13th century and belongs to the Ordine dei Servi di Maria.
Inside it has frescoes by Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino.
To the left of the church, on the corner with Via Capponi we find the entrance
to the Archaeological Museum which has important Etruscan, Roman and, in particular, Egyptian collections.
When visiting the museum don’t forget to look at the beautiful garden where some
Etruscan tombs have been rebuilt.