Florence, one of the most popular travel cities in Italy, has many impressive sights and attractions. A Renaissance city in the heart of Tuscany, Florence has some of Italy’s best museums, beautiful cathedrals and churches, and interesting streets and squares with elegant buildings and shops.
Here are the top attractions tourists want to see. Most lie in Florence’s compact centro storico (city center Old Town). Many of these sites will be offered on the various shore excursions presented by the cruise line you are traveling upon. It can be a bit overwhelming to decide which to visit in the one day you will probably have in this special city while on a cruise. If we are helping you with the cruise we will be happy to also advise you on all the best excursions to purchase…or, if you like, we can create a customized itinerary for your special day in this fabulous city.
Duomo (cathedral), the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore
Construction of Florence’s most popular site was begun in 1296 and consecrated in 1436. The huge Gothic duomo holds 20,000 people. Its exterior, made of green, pink, and white marble, has several elaborate doors and interesting statues. Inside, Brunelleschi’s Dome is a masterpiece of construction. You may buy a ticket to climb the 463 steps to its top.
Piazza della Signoria
Florence’s most famous square is the heart of the historic center and a free open-air sculpture exhibit, one of which is a copy of Michelangelo’s David, as the original now resides in the Galleria dell’ Academia to protect it from the elements. Both the Piazza and Galleria are important stops to make while visiting Florence.
The Campanile (bell tower)
This famous bell tower, is in Piazza del Duomo. The first story was designed by Giotto and it is commonly called Giotto’s Campanile. You may buy a ticket and climb the 414 stairs (no lift) for great views of the Cathedral and its dome and the city of Florence and surroundings.
The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge)
Built in 1345, Ponte Vecchio was Florence’s first bridge across the Arno River and is the only surviving bridge from Florence’s medieval days (others were destroyed in World War II). The Ponte Vecchio is still lined with shops selling gold and silver jewelry. From the bridge, you’ll have a great view along the Arno River and beyond.
The Galleria degli Uffizi
This museum holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art but it’s also Italy’s most crowded museum so it’s a good idea to buy tickets ahead to avoid long ticket lines. The Uffizi holds thousands of paintings from medieval to modern times and many antique sculptures, illuminations, and tapestries. Artists whose works you’ll see include Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, and Raphael.
Cross the Ponte Vecchio to the Giardino di Boboli, a huge park on a hillside in the middle of Florence behind the Pitti Palace. Here you’ll find beautiful gardens and fountains and a great view of Florence from the Forte Belvedere.
Pitti Palace, Florence’s largest palazzo, was once the seat of the Medici family. Eight different galleries feature art, costumes, jewelry, and the apartments.
Santa Croce, in Piazza Santa Croce, is the largest Franciscan church in Italy and holds the tombs of several important Florentines including Michelangelo and Dante. The vast interior contains some exceptional stained glass windows and frescoes. One of Brunelleschi’s most important works, the Cappella dei Pazzi, is in Santa Croce.
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