Galleria degli Uffizi
Completed in 1581, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the Renaissance period’s most impressive architectural feats, and the art collection inside is nothing to sneeze at either. Housed within Uffizi’s walls are many pieces from the Medici family’s art collection, and the museum not only displays some of da Vinci and Michelangelo’s work, but it is said that the masters actually spent time there to be inspired by its beauty. I cannot imagine anything more amazing than going to a place that inspired the likes of da Vinci and Michelangelo! You can visit the Uffizi Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Established in 1784 and home to the original David, Michelangelo’s most famous and replicated sculptural masterpiece, the Gallery of the Academy of Florence is the cities second most-visited museum annually. People wander the museum’s historic halls to see David, the museum’s collection of Renaissance and Florentine Gothic works, and some of Michelangelo’s’ unfinished work, such as his piece dubbed Prisoners, which was to adorn Pope Julius II’s tomb. Visitors may enjoy the Galleria dell’Accademia’s treasures Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15 to 6:30.
The Palazzo Strozzi dates back to 1538, and was initially built for Medici family rival Filippo Strozzi the Elder, a powerful 15th century banker. Today the palace plays host to numerous cultural events, including an annual antique show, art exhibitions, and fashion shows, which is appropriate considering some of Italian fashion’s most famous names – you know, Cavalli, Ferragamo, Gucci have boutiques directly across the street. Palazzo Strozzi is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., except on Thursdays when it stays open until 11 p.m.
Many notable figures have lived inside the Palazzo Pitti since 1458, including banker Luca Pitti, the Medici family, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany families, and Napoleon. The Renaissance palace is a sight to see, as are the unbelievable collections housed inside its walls. Visitors have several galleries through which to wander, including the Palatine Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Royal Apartments, the Costume Gallery, and the Carriages Museum. Each gallery holds its own hours, so make sure to check out Palazzo Pitti’s website for the hours of the galleries you are interested in visiting.
Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore
If you have seen pictures of Florence’s skyline, you have seen the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. This historic area is comprised of several pieces of recognizable architecture. The large dome in Florence’s cityscape is Brunelleschi’s Dome, and much like the Sistine Chapel, Brunelleschi’s Dome is painted along the walls and ceiling. The Campanile, or Giotto’s Bell Tower, is also a prominent piece of architecture worth exploring, as is the 11th century’s Baptistery of St. John, which boasts replicas of Ghiberti’s bronze Gates of Paradise. Visiting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily.
Bargello National Museum
Tucked amongst all of our other incredible gems is a museum that many visitors overlook. The Bargello National Museum is actually an old prison building dating back to 1225, making the building itself historic and worth a visit. Housed within the museum walls are even more of Michelangelo’s works Florence is the place to see a majority of his and other incredible Renaissance art and sculptures by Donatello as well. Bargello is open daily from 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
The Palazzo Vecchio is Florence’s City Hall. You might be thinking, “What makes that so incredible?” Well, the Palazzo Vecchio has been Florence’s City Hall since the 14th century, so it is an amazing building! Inside, you will find artwork by Italy’s finest there are some da Vinci and Vasari pieces in there ornate rooms and ceilings with carved doors, and a tremendous wall tapestry collection. Palazzo Vecchio is open daily to visitors April through September from 9 a.m. to midnight, and October through December from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The museum closes at 2 p.m. on Thursdays year round.
Another Florence must-see is the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge and collection of shops that spans Florence’s River Arno. This incredible bridge dates back to medieval times, and the best time to visit it is at dawn or dusk. Not only is the bridge less crowded then, it is also beautifully lit and allows for a lovely view of Florence’s city lights as well.
La Basilica di Santa Croce
The La Basilica di Santa Croce is an active church, completed in 1385, and our final incredible museum. It is the final resting place of some the most famous Italians the world has ever known Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and Rossini and the proposed resting place of the Middle Ages poet Dante. A statue of the exiled poet adorns the front of the chapel. Inside, Dante’s empty tomb awaits his exhumation from Ravenna, where he died and currently rests. You can see this incredible Basilica Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.