Florence – The Outdoor Museum
The compact historic city of Florence in Italy is located in middle of the Tuscan hills where artists such as Brunelleschi and Michelangelo have left their mark with magnificent buildings and artwork. Florence also known as Firenze has lots of beautiful Renaissance architecture, monuments, statues, art galleries and museums all of which impress and are loved by many visitors.
You can start wandering the city by visiting Florence’s most famous square Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the historic center and an open-air sculpture exhibit. Here you will see important statues including a copy of Michelangelo’s David. The beautiful piazza has been Florence’s political center for centuries and has been the site of several historic episodes. Along with fabolous artwork, cafes and restaurants surround the square.
One of the most significant buildings in this city is the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), a grand palace overlooking the Piazza della Signoria. Built in the 12th century, the Palazzo Vecchio has served in part as a museum and as city hall. This impressive palace holds a wealth of artifacts and art works and includes beautiful frescoes, sculptures, intricate carvings and tapestries illustrating historic and Biblical events. Inside the palazzo are elaborately decorated public rooms and private apartments that can be visited.
The Arno river crosses Florence, where it passes below the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), one of Florence’s oldest and most photographed bridges. It was built in 1345 upon which houses are built and is the only bridge that was not destroyed in World War II. The bridge is known for its three segmented arches and is lined with jewelry and souvenir shops. Many visitors visit this bridge to shop and enjoy entertainment such as musicians and portraitists. A walk along the Arno offers fantastic views. Night time also presents stunning views where the bridge is at its most beautiful, especially when seen from the Ponte Santa Trinità.
Next visit what is regarded today as one of the world’s greatest art museums, the Uffizi Gallery, located off the Piazza della Signoria. This former palace was first built in 1560 and turned into an art gallery opened to the public in 1765 showcasing its stunning collection of Renaissance paintings. The museum offers thousands of art works by masters like Michelangelo, Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci who were most famous of that era. You should purchase your tickets in advance to avoid long linups.
Another popular site, if not the most is the Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral that is also called the Duomo, which dominates the panoramic view of Florence. This majestic cathedral features decades worth of stunning architecture and art. It has a beautiful Gothic exterior made of pink, green and white shades of marble, an elaborate interior including stained-glass windows, mosaics, frescoes and interesting statues and an impressive Renaissance dome. A climb of 463 steps to the top will allow you to see incredible views of Florence and surrounding valley.
The Palazzo Pitti is a large 15th century palace situated on the south bank of the Arno river The palace was long the residence of Florence’s rulers before it was transformed into a museum complex. Located behind, the Boboli Gardens created by the Medici family in the 16th century are beautiful and varied Italianesque gardens home to a large number of statues and fountains. The gardens have passed through several stages of enlargement and restructuring work. They were enlarged in the 17th century to their present extent and have come to form an outdoor museum of garden sculpture that includes Roman antiquities as well as later works.
A 15 minute walk from Duomo, you will come across La Basilica di Santa Croce with a beautiful facade in front of the piazza. The Santa Croce was built for the common citizens of Florence, and houses tombs of the likes of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini and the empty tomb of Dante. For this reason, the Santa Croce is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories. Close to here you will also find Loggia dei Lanzi. This is a beautiful arched outdoor sculpture gallery that was built in the 14th century.
For shopping, visit the Mercato Nuovo (new market), a covered market located in the historic center of Florence which was built in 1500s. When opened, it was intended for the sale of silk and luxury goods. Today mainly leather goods and souvenirs can be purchased here. One attraction to visit here is the Fontana del Porcellino (Piglet Fountain). It is said that rubbing the animal’s nose will bring fortune a visitor to return to Florence. Another thing to not miss ehen visiting Florence, is the fantastic gelato that the city has become known for. You will find gelato shops all over the city so make sure to make a few stops during your visit.
For centuries Florence has captured the imaginations of travelers, with phenomenal art, culture and history. The compact city has much to offer travelers with only a few attractions mentioned above. These and many more attractions and sights make this one of the most popular destinations in Italy and in all of Europe.