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Top 5 Things To Do In Florence

9/11/2016Jake Ryan

Florence, with its beautiful renaissance architecture and breathtaking artistic masterpieces, is widely regarded as one of the most culturally significant cities in the world.

So, to make sure you experience the best that this spectacular locale has to offer, here is my list of the top 5 things you must do whilst in Florence. 

Often referred to as the heart of Florence, Duomo Square is the city’s most popular Piazza and home to possibly the greatest architectural structures in the whole of Florence. 

Dominating the city’s skyline, the majestic Duomo is a 600 year old feat of architectural genius. From its intricate red, green and white marble facade, ornate interior of mosaics, frescoes and stained-glass windows to the sensational 360 views from the top of the dome; It is a sight simply not to be missed. TOP TIP: As you ascend, make sure you take a turn around the Duomo’s inside viewing deck for an up-close look at its jaw-dropping dome fresco.

If you want an up-close view of the the Duomo, then head over to the adjacent Giotto’s Bell Tower and climb the 414 steps of the 85m campanile for an unparalleled look at Brunelleschi’s masonry masterpiece. TOP TIP: If you  suffer from claustrophobia, a climb up the tower is a much better choice than the trek to the top of the Duomo. It has a much wider staircase and with a viewing platform every few flights, you can get a couple of much needed rest-bites as you ascend. 

Although the smallest structure in the Piazza, for me, the 11th century baptistry is actually the most beautiful. Famous for allowing visitors a glimpse of both Heaven and Hell, on the outside be dazzled by Ghiberti’s bronze ‘Gates of Paradise’ before heading inside to see the startling mosaic depiction of Satan devouring his victims spread across the ceiling. TOP TIP: Visit on a sunny day to see the whole place shimmer and glow as the shining rays of sunshine reflect from the gold glass tiles. Mesmerising.
☻ Visit me: Duomo: 10am to 5pm (closed Sunday), Giotto’s Bell Tower: 8.30am -   7.30pm, Baptistry: 12.15pm-7pm Monday-Saturday, 8.30am - 2pm Sunday. 
£  I Cost: Duomo - Entrance free (Climb Dome €8); Giotto’s Bell Tower - €6; Baptistry - €4; Combination ticket including the Bell Tower, Duomo, Crypt, Baptistry and Museum is €10
✈ How to get to me: All accessible from Piazza Del Duomo.

Spanning the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s oldest and most beautiful bridge. Originally built in the 14th century, today this impressive example of medieval craftsmanship beautifully encapsulates the rich historical significance of the city. Although during the day it can often be crammed full of tourists, if you hold off until sunset, you will be rewarded with absolutely sensational views of the Arno river as it becomes illuminated by the refracting lights of the surrounding dwellings. TOP TIP: If you want to capture the true majesty of this beautiful bridge, take a slow stroll down the river to Ponte Santa Trinita where you are afforded unobstructed panoramic views, without the crowds. 
☻ Visit me: Open all year round 
£  I Cost: Free
✈ How to get to me: 20 minute walk from Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.

The Uffizi Gallery is Florence’s most celebrated art gallery, arguably holding the most important and comprehensive collection of Renaissance art in the whole world. Opened to the public in 1765, here you will find literally thousands of  examples of works including those by masters such as MichelangoLeonardo di Vinci and Botticelli. To see the whole collection would take hours so make sure you head to the rooms that interest you the most to avoid disappointment. My favourite is Hall 10/14 which houses Botticelli’s masterpieces including The Birth of Venus and The SpringTOP TIP:  I cannot stress this enough. As the museum only admits one person at a time if you pay on the door, it is ESSENTIAL to buy reservation tickets in advance! 
☻ Visit me: 8.15am-6.50pm Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Monday. 
£  I Cost: €6.50 (€3.25 concessions)
✈ How to get to me: 10 minute walk from Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.

Located on the other side of the Arno River, the Giardino di Boboli are a collection of beautiful Italian gardens set on a hillside in the middle of Florence. Resembling a hybrid of Versailles and Central Park, these 11 acres are home to a range of themed gardens, sculptures, fountains, centuries-old oak trees and sweeping views. Although they are simply breathtakingthey are relatively unheard of by most visitors who visit the city, so if you are looking for a calm oasis away from the usual groups of tourist, this is definitely the place for you. TOP TIP: For a stunning view of Florence, head to the Porcelain Museum where you can take in the city’s wave red tiled buildings set against the backdrop of the towering Florentine Hills. For something more unusual, make sure you head to the Grotta di Buontalenti, with its distinctive drip-like formations, surreal sculptures and fascinating frescoes.
☻ Visit me: 8.15am-4.30pm Nov-Feb, 8.15am-5.30pm March, 8.15am-6.30pm April-May and Sept-Oct, 8.15am-7.30pm June-Aug. Last entrance is 1 hour before closing time
£  I Cost: €7 (€3 concessions)
✈ How to get to me: 15 minute walk from Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.

Historically the political heart of city, today the famed Piazza Della Signoria  is a world-renowned, free, open-air sculpture exhibit as well as being surrounded by some of the best attractions in all of Florence. The imposing medieval building overlooking the square is the Palazzo Vecchio and definitely worth a look. The original stronghold of the ruling Medici family, it is free to roam around. To the right of it is also The Loggia die Signoria. Flanked the two gigantic Medici lions, it is a treasure trove of renaissance sculpture including a copy of Michealangelo’s Statue of David and my favourite, Celini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa. In the centre of the square, you will also find the humongous marble Fountain of Neptune. A meeting place since medieval times, it is a great spot to people watch. TOP TIP: Try and spot the round marble plaque marking the spot where the Dominican Friar, Savonarola, was burned at the stake in 1498. Most tourists walk straight over it yet it commemorates one of the most famous events to ever happen in Florence. 
☻ Visit me: Open all year round
£  I Cost: Free
✈ How to get to me: 10 minute walk from Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.

Have you been to Florence? 
Where are your favourite places to visit in Florence? 

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