There’s no reason to wait in the long lines at the Uffizi
, one of the world’s most celebrated museums, or the Accademia, where the David statue resides—as you can make advance reservations through the official website for Florentine museums
. You then exchange your receipt for an actual ticket when you arrive.
Originally built as offices—hence the name, Uffizi—the building was later converted to a museum, which opened to the public after the last Medici heirs died in the 18th century. The museum’s Italian works include paintings by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Parmigianino. Some northern European artists are represented too, most notably Dürer and Rembrandt. The rooftop café is an ideal place to get lunch and take a break before tackling the riches of this vast collection.
After your visit, spend some time getting lost in the streets around the Piazza Repubblica. Florence is famous for its leather—Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, and Gianfranco Lotti are among the homegrown brands. On and around Via de’ Tornabuoni
, you can find their boutiques along with other designers who aren’t household names—yet.
For another sort of retail therapy, seek out Santa Maria Novella
, a pharmacy based in a stunning 13th-century chapel that continues to sell lotions, soaps, and herbal supplements created by Dominican friars. It’s worth stopping in to admire the wood paneled ornate rooms even if you don’t intend to purchase anything.
Make your way south across to the Oltrarno and get to know the Arno’s other side, known for traditional artisan workshops and, increasingly, Florence’s hippest indie shops and hangouts. iO Osteria Personale
on Borgo San Frediano, for one, can feel like a breath of fresh air, with its chalkboard menus and exposed brick walls. The kitchen here focuses on smaller, lighter portions and seasonally inspired variations on classic dishes, like chestnut tortelli. For a memorable nightcap, it’s a five-minute walk from iO to Mad Souls & Spirits,
the most creative cocktail bar in town.