Florence was one of the most tourist-clogged cities we’ve been to, but for good reason. There is so much art, history, and culture there that its not difficult to see why it’s one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Europe. If you plan of visiting Florence, here’s a few things that might interest you, as well as a few tips.
1) Galleria Accademia di Belle Arti – This is the gallery home to the original David statue, sculpted by Michaelangelo, as well as several Florentine paintings by artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Andrea del Sarto, and more. It was surprisingly small and didn’t require much time to browse all the art. As interesting as it was to see the orginal David sculpture, it was not worth the 2 1/2hr wait (no joke) just to get in. We were probably in there for about 20 minutes, maybe half an hour. If we could do it again, we’d reserve a spot to get in (all reservations were put in a separate line, though not nearly as long). As well, if you’re willing to pay anywhere upwards of 30€ there are guided tours that allow you to not only skip the line but hear information about all the notable artworks in the Galleria.
2) The Duomo – The Duomo is the main part of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore, and stands tall over the city. For 8€ you can climb 463 steps to the top of the dome and have an incredible view of the beautiful city below, along with the mountains in the distance. On your way up, you can also enjoy the enormous frescos inside the dome; the art is breathtaking and is worth the 8€ alone. There is another tower right beside the church that isn’t quite as tall and is only 6€ to climb. However, you are in a small stairway the whole way up and miss out on the beautiful frescos that the dome has to offer. We reccomend paying the extra 2€ and experience the Duomo! We did both and our feet and wallets were not happy afterwards!
3) Teatro Verdi – Florence is, similar to Vienna, a city famous for opera, having seen its birth over 400 years ago. Going to see a show, or an ochestra such as Orchestra della Toscana would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This might not interest you, depending on how interested you are in music and culture, and tickets can be a bit hefty in price, especially if you’re trying to travel on a budget, but would be a great experience nonetheless.
4) Uffizi Gallery – It is the msot important and most visited museum in Florence. Built in the shape of a horseshoe, it is enourmous and is home to many famous works of art. To fully see the museum, you’d need multiple visits. The museum is organized in chronological order fromt he 13th century to the 18th century. If you’re an avid art lover, this is something you cannot miss, and is only 6.50€.
5) Pitti Palace – This is an enormous palace built in 1457 and today houses some very important museums, such as the Palantine Gallery containing a broad collection 16th and 17th century paintings, the Royal Apartments, containing furnishings from a remodeling done in the 19th century, the Silver Museum (Museo degli Argenti) displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, and the Gallery of Modern Art, holding a collection of mostly Tuscan 19th and 20th century paintings. As well, the Boboli Gardens qre quite beautiful but unfortunately have a hefty entrance fee of 10€, and that is only for the gardens. The Palace itself is another 7€. Did I say Florence was expensive?
Another great place to see if not a museum, or a monument, or palace; it’s a gelato shop! It’s called GROM and we came across it accidently. Gelato shops are very common in Florence, and very rarely have more than one or two people in line. However, this particular shop had an enormous line out the store and up the street a good 20 meters! We asked someone in line and were told it was, apparently, the best gelato in all of Florence! So of course we waited in line, and sure enough, it was absolutely the best gelato we’d tried (and still is!). Look up GROM if you’re in Florence; it’s spectacular!
As you can see from the list above, Florence is a very art-heavy city. Art and music dominates its attractions, and for those who are very interested in art and music, Florence will be a place you need at least several days to see properly. But like several cities we’ve been to, it’s not for everyone. If the museums an operas and artwork don’t interest you as much, at the very least Florence is a beautiful, bustling city with many opportunities for some great pictures!