Florence's Top 20
Collected by Nicky Swallow, AFAR Local Expert
Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Ideally you'd have a whole day to appreciate the world’s foremost collection of Renaissance paintings, housed in the 16th-century headquarters of the Medici court. But for those with less time, highlights include the three great...
Via Ricasoli, 58/60, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Most people head to this ex-art school to ogle the world’s most famous nude statue. Michelangelo’s David was carved from a single five-meter-high block of milky-white marble in 1504 and originally stood in Piazza della Signoria....
Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The cathedral, usually called the Duomo, is Florence’s most recognizable building. You are able to catch glimpses of its magnificent red-tiled cupola from just about anywhere in the city center. Construction on the church...
Piazza S. Croce, 16, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The Franciscan Basilica di Santa Croce, with its striped green-and-white marble facade, dates from about 1294. Inside are the tombs of many celebrated early Florentines, including Dante, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Among the many art treasures...
Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 1, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Santa Maria Novella is one of Florence's beautiful churches. Its location near the train station means that most visitors will pass by it, and probably through the piazza in front of the church, but few take the time to actually go inside. This...
Piazza Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Lungarno degli Archibusieri, 8/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
There are few better places from which to enjoy river views and sunsets than the Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345. Spanning the Arno's narrowest point, this is the only bridge to have survived the German bombing of the city in 1944. There have always...
Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Via Santa Monaca, 27, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
This small chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine houses one of the most important fresco cycles in Florentine art. It was painted by three great Renaissance artists: Masolino began the work in 1425, his pupil Masaccio continued the piece...
Palazzo Spini Feroni, Piazza di Santa Trinita, 5/R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
This jewel box of a museum, located in the basement of the 13th-century Palazzo Spini Feroni where shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo first set up shop in 1927, is a perfect antidote to too much Renaissance art. Anyone with even a vague interest in...
Piazza Santo Spirito, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Florence’s most lively square is dominated by the blank, unfinished facade of Brunelleschi’s last church. Lined with trees and centered around a pretty fountain, the piazza plays host to a small daily market (where local ladies do their shopping)...
Via del Proconsolo, 16, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Just to the north of Florence, the small hill town of Fiesole was founded by the Etruscans. Today it is effectively an upmarket city suburb, home to many magnificent villas. Highlights include the 11th-century Duomo; the 3,000-seat Roman...
Via de' Ginori, 2n, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
The main reason to visit this Renaissance palace is to see the delightful frescoes in the Cappella dei Magi painted by Benozzo Gozzoli. His 1459 cycle fills the tiny chapel from floor to ceiling and is exquisitely painted in bright jewel colors....
Via Camillo Cavour, 3, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
Located behind the church of San Lorenzo, this is where many members of the ruling Medici family are buried. The octagonal building with an opulent marble interior dates from 1519. The Cappella dei Principi houses sarcophagi belonging to the...
Piazza Santo Spirito, 9, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Once home to the Medici princes, Palazzo Pitti is now our portal to Renaissance Florence. It is divided into six sections and, after three visits, I still cannot choose a favorite. The left wing is comprised of the Royal Apartments—a section that...
Via del Proconsolo, 4, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
While in Florence, we visited one of the city's many art museums. I came across this open window as I wandered through the museum and though the view of the colorful building next door, framed so nicely by stained-glass windows, was almost as...
Piazza San Marco, 3, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Housed in the monastery of San Marco, this museum pays homage to the delicate, spiritual work of Fra Angelico who lived and worked here as a monk from 1435-1445. Some of his most celebrated paintings and frescoes are on show here: the famous...
Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
This imposing building has served as Florence’s town hall since Medici times. Until the 15th century, it was the tallest edifice in the city with a 95-meter-high tower (Brunelleschi’s dome on the cathedral surpassed it). It is attributed to...
Piazza del Duomo, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
Pisa’s famous leaning tower (the campanile of the adjacent Duomo) is part of the Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes the Duomo, baptistery and cemetery. Begun in 1173, the tower began to lean almost immediately thanks...
56126 Pisa, Province of Pisa, Italy
Pisa’s enormous cathedral was begun in the 11th century, and is one of the finest examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture. The four-tiered, milky-white marble facade is decorated with Moorish mosaics. A fire in 1595 destroyed the original bronze...
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