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Florence.

Top Florence Attractions

The first time you visit Florence, or any new destination, the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice, and other information about the top tourist attractions in Florence to help with your itinerary planning.

Uffizi Gallery Uffizi Gallery
Piazza del Duomo Piazza del Duomo
Baptistery of Saint John Baptistery of Saint John
Piazza della Signoria Piazza della Signoria
Santa Croce Santa Croce

Uffizi Gallery

 Location Piazza degli Uffizi
 Admission 4 – 8 euro
 Hours Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 am – 7:00 pm
 Phone 390552388651
 Website www.uffizi.firenze.it

It is fitting that Florence, one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world, houses the Uffizi Gallery. In the mid 1500’s, the U-shaped Uffizi building was constructed as a palace and offices for the powerful Medici family. As members of the family began purchasing and commissioning several paintings and sculptures, they chose to store many of the works in the Uffizi Palace. Over the years, the collection grew to represent a multitude of artists, whose work covers a span of hundreds of years. The gallery was opened to the public in the 18th century, and has been a haven for art aficionados ever since.

Before visiting the Uffizi, be sure to purchase tickets with the museum office. While you may also purchase tickets at the door, making prior arrangements with the museum will greatly decrease your wait time. Although the long lines to enter the Uffizi can take hours, what the museum has to offer is well worth the wait. As you walk in and out of the many rooms and through the long corridors, you will find yourself surrounded by masterpieces, from the Venuses of Titian and Botticelli, to the Self Portrait of Raphael, to Parmigianino’s Madonna of the Long Neck. The works of all of these artists, along with many others, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto, and Caravaggio, will introduce you to a range of styles and take you through various periods of art history.

 

Piazza del Duomo

 Location Piazza del Duomo
 Admission Cathedral, free; Bell Tower, 6 euro
 Hours Cathedral, Monday to Friday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (3:30 pm on Thursday) Saturday, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm Sunday, 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm Bell Tower, Monday to Sunday, 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
 Phone 390552302885
 Website www.operaduomo.firenze.it

The Piazza del Duomo encompasses the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the neighboring Campanile, two buildings that define the skyline of Florence. The Cathedral is known for its massive dome, while the Campanile, or Bell Tower, famously reaches over 275 feet tall. Although the structures are independent from one another, together they represent the focal point of Catholic Florence.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was a work in progress for centuries, and the product of several artists and architects. It was commissioned to Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296 to replace the Church of Santa Reparta with a more impressive structure to represent the religious power of Florence. As intended, the Cathedral was the single largest Catholic Church in the world upon its completion in 1436. After 170 years, Giotto, Andrea Pisano, and Francesco Talenti, finally finished what began as the grand vision of Cambio. The green and white marble exterior is topped by a 130 foot wide wooden and brick dome. The dome emerged from the imagination of Talenti, but is the work of Brunelleschi and over four million bricks. Over several years, various artists contributed the interior’s numerous stained glass windows and mosaics. Some of the original décor still remains, however others were lost over time or moved to the Cathedral’s nearby museum.

Giotto’s multi tiered Bell Tower stands next to the Cathedral and bears similar external designs. The red, green, and white marble accents the dramatic arches and sharp lines. Although the Campanile is popularly referred to as the work of Giotto di Bondone, Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti had equal shares in the design and construction. Along the bottom of the Bell Tower, you will see replicas of sculptures and mosaics from artists such as Donatello. Many of the original Campanile works can be seen in the Museo dell’Opere del Duomo, along with original artwork from the Cathedral.

 

Baptistery of Saint John

 Location Piazza San Giovanni
 Admission 3 euro
 Hours Monday to Saturday, 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm Sunday, 8:30 am – 1:30 pm
 Phone 390552302885

The Baptistery of San Giovanni stands in close proximity to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Campanile. Despite its antiquity, the signature white and green marble exterior fits elegantly into the surrounding scenery. The octagonal Baptistery is crowned with a triangular dome, which is notable for its shape, but significantly smaller than that of the adjacent Cathedral. Dispute exists over the exact time of the Baptistery’s construction, although many believe its present state dates from sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries.

When you visit the Baptistery, take time to explore the perimeter of the building. The three sets of bronze doors are testaments to the artistic talents of Florence’s masters. The first set of doors was commissioned to Andrea Pisano, while the second set were the product of a competition, won by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Not only did Ghiberti create the second set of doors, but he was also commissioned to sculpt the East doors, popularly referred to as the Gates of Paradise. Replicas of these doors are currently installed, while the originals are contained in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. In addition to the famous doors, there are several statues settled atop the entranceways and in niches along the sides of the building.

 

Piazza della Signoria

 Admission 6 euro
 Hours Monday to Wednesday and Friday to Sunday, 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Thursday, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
 Phone 390552768465

The oddly shaped Piazza della Signoria is home to a palace, an open-air museum, cafes, and countless street vendors. As you walk along the L shaped “square”, keep in mind that it is considered the political center of Florence.

The Palazzo della Signoria, also referred to as the Palazzo Vecchio, was created by Arnolfo di Cambio, and houses the headquarters of the city’s government. In front of the great Palazzo, you can see an impressive replica of Michelangelo’s marble statue of David, along with a replica of Donatello’s lion Marzocco, symbolic of Florence. If you are facing the Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia della Signoria, also known as the Loggia dell’Orcagna, or Loggia dei Lanzi, will be on your right. The three open arches of the Loggia della Signoria cover a number of statues, such as Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus and Giambologna’s dramatically carved Rape of the Sabine Women. While the architecture of the structure is impressive, the statues that it encompasses are equally remarkable.

In the center of the Piazza, you will find yourself surrounded by friendly street vendors, who sell everything from tee shirts to disposable cameras to small imitation statues. Despite this modern addition, the center of the Piazza is not without its classic artistic merit. Giambologna’s elegant statue of Cosimo de Medici on horseback memorializes the once powerful family, while the Fountain of Neptune, by Bartolomeo Ammannati, pays its respects to Roman antiquity. Together, all of the statues and surrounding buildings distinguish Florence as a city of beauty and civil import.

 

Santa Croce

 Location Piazza di Santa Croce
 Admission 4 euro
 Hours :Monday to Saturday, 9:30-5:30, Sunday, 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm
 Phone 0552466105

The Church of Santa Croce, built over a period of one and a half centuries, is considered one of Arnolfo di Cambio’s greatest masterpieces. The Gothic style arches and geometrical patters characterize both the exterior and interior of the church. The façade of Santa Croce dates from the 19th century. While the view of the church from the outside Piazza is spectacular, the real treasures of Santa Croce lie inside. The Church is the resting place of many of Italy’s most celebrated sons. Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Lorenzo Ghiberti, among others, are entombed inside the walls of Santa Croce, while monuments to Dante Alighieri and Machiavelli are also on display.

As with all places in Florence, the Church of Santa Croce is brimming with art. Works by Donatello, such as his Crucifix and Annunciation, are exemplary of Renaissance sculpture. The walls of the Church are covered in Gothic frescoes by a variety of artists, most notably Giotto and his school.

While visiting Santa Croce, you will notice the comfortably nestled Pazzi Chapel, designed by Brunelleschi. The exterior of the Chapel is notably subtler than the nearby Santa Croce façade, but the impact of its Renaissance style is equally stunning. Santa Croce and all of its various components demonstrate the transformation of art through the ages.

 


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