Florence in a Day – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

Have you ever imagined taking a trip to Italy? There are so many amazing things to see and to do there. If you recall, we explored Rome in an earlier post and narrowed down a list of 10 must-see attractions. Today, let us explore Florence and the top 10 things that you absolutely need to see during your dream trip there.  Let’s get going on Florence in a Day – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy!

Transportation in Florence

Before you venture out to Florence, you will want to know a bit more about what to expect from the transportation that is available. It is not necessarily what you may be used to here in the United States! On our trip to Italy for instance, we were scheduled to take a train from Rome to Florence that was supposed to last for about an hour and a half. In reality, the train was 35 minutes late departing, which seems to be pretty typical of many trains in Italy. The ride itself was uneventful beyond that though. As in Rome, you must make sure you leave yourself some cushion to allow for delays with transportation. Use it as an opportunity to relax!

Public transportation is wonderful but if you are determined to see as much of the city as possible in as short of time as possible, you will want to take advantage of a bus tour. We decided to use Hop on Hop off Tours of Florence for this very reason. It was a good tour, though it didn’t include a live tour guide. It was sufficient but it is an important thing to be aware of if you’re someone who prefers to ask questions and interact with the guide.

Also on our Florence visit, we picked up our Firenze card. This little card allowed us to skip to the head of some lines and granted us entrance into some of the most sought-after tourist locations. If you purchase the card, you will immediately be able to start touring the city. You may want to follow suit if you are similarly determined to fit in as much sightseeing as you can during your own trip!

Rick Steves Self-guided Walking Tour

Like we had mentioned in the previous article about visiting Rome, Rick Steves has a plethora of materials for traveling through Italy. Be sure you have his app on your phone and download the appropriate audio tours while you have wi-fi access.

Florence Accommodations

Finding the right accommodations in Florence is critical, as you will want to consider your location options. We walked right from the train station to our hotel, Palazzo Ruspoli, which was nestled in the historic district just a stone’s throw from el Duomo. The hotel was considered to be a bed and breakfast. I can tell you our room was spacious, comfortable and lovely. It made for a perfect find and I recommend that you consider booking your room here. To give you an idea of how perfect the location is, you simply need to walk to the hotel from the train station. You will come around a corner and see the amazing view of The Baptistery and el Duomo. It certainly took our breath away and was everything we had imagined it might be. Talk about a room with a view!

View of el Duomo Form Our Room Florence Italy Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
View of el Duomo Form Our Room Florence Italy

Now that you have some recommendations on transportation and accommodations, let’s explore the top ten reasons that you must visit Florence.

1) The Florence Baptistery

The Florence Baptistery Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
The Florence Baptistery Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

We begin our list with The Florence Baptistery. This is a building dating all the way back to the 11th century, if you can believe it. Admire its Romanesque architecture as you tour it and take it all in. While there certainly is much to see in and around The Baptistery, the ceiling is especially spectacular and you will want to pay attention to it as you tour the building. As you are viewing the craftsmanship, don’t be too surprised to actually find yourself open-mouthed and in awe. It truly is just that stunning.

 The Golden Doors The Florence Baptistery Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

The Golden Doors The Florence Baptistery Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

2) el Duomo Museum

Next up on our must-see list is a magnificent site that happens to be just across the road from the Baptistery: the museum near Florence Cathedral. Many people simply call any cathedral ‘el duomo.’ However, this particular one is quite well-known and a sight to behold.

el Duomo Museum - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
el Duomo Museum – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

Right behind the cathedral, or el Duomo, there is a museum of the church. The church is mostly empty right now due to renovations and many of the pieces are in the museum. Touring it will certainly be relatively quick yet extremely worthwhile, so it is a nice option when you are a little short on time.

Vestments el Duomo Museum - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
Vestments – el Duomo Museum – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

It holds many, many beautiful pieces of art, including several sculptures. One of these sculptures was even created by Michelangelo. Such rich history dating back so many centuries is just mind-blowing at times.

Relics - el Duomo Museum - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
Relics – el Duomo Museum – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

3) David – Galleria dell’accademia

Our visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia happened to take place on day five during our own trip, but you don’t necessarily need to keep things in order as you tour the must-see sites of Florence.

Michelangelo's David Gallery of the Academy of Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Michelangelo’s David Gallery of the Academy of Florence – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

One thing is for sure though: you must visit the Galleria to see Michelangelo’s David and much, much more.

Even though we had our skip the line tickets, we still got in line before the place opened so that we would be the first people to gather around the amazing Statue of David.

Galleria dell’accademia or Gallery of the Academia, might also be known as the “The Cathedral of Humanism”, the center of the Renaissance. Although this era was based on Roman Humanism it was not secular humanism that rejected God. Studying Michelangelo, you will find him to be a devout Christian, but he used his work to show that man was created in the image of God and is therefore of great worth. David represents divine victory over evil.

Remember, this is the David from the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, the shepherd King. In a sense, David changed the world and Michelangelo changed the world with the statue.

One more fun fact for you: this statue was supposed to be for the roof of el Duomo. But city visionaries decided to move David someplace else. It was totally and completely magnificent to see this iconic statue in person! I even decided to take up marble sculpting after seeing this amazing work of art. Will you be similarly inspired? There is so much more to see in this gallery and, if you have the time, I highly recommend seeing all you can while you are there. If your schedule doesn’t permit this, allow me to direct you to our photo gallery for many more images and details.

4) Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
Piazzale Michelangelo – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

One of the main goals of the bus tour mentioned earlier was to get to Piazzale Michelangelo for an amazing, iconic view of the city. While we were there, a rainbow appeared in the sky and ended right at el Duomo. It just does not get any better than that. Even if your visit doesn’t include a rainbow, this view is one you will never forget.

The Godfather

One thing you should know is that there is a pay-to-use bathroom here, so you would be wise to carry change with you should you need to use it. You will hopefully avoid the odd situation that we encountered that way! While we were up on the top of that hill, we needed to make some change to use the pay bathroom. (Alas, no one warned us of this ahead of time!) I went into an upscale restaurant in the morning. It wasn’t open but I saw some people inside so I decided to venture in a little further. I saw a table of serious people eating and looking like they did not want to be disturbed. All of a sudden, a scene from The Godfather came to mind and I decided to leave very quickly. The bathroom could wait.

Hop on Hop off Bus Delay

Here, you may experience more delays with the transportation. To give you an idea of what you might encounter, I will tell our departure story as an example. The bus was supposed to come every 15 minutes but for some reason it did not come for 45 minutes. We were able to grab some lunch so it was not an issue, but we were again reminded that the pace of life is different in Italy than it is in America. You will likely find it very necessary to exercise patience and flexibility when it comes to waiting for your transportation. Remember, the journey is part of the entire traveling experience so do try to savor it all.

5) Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
Ponte Vecchio – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

If you have a leisurely afternoon available, take your phone with you and use the Rick Steves app to go on a Renaissance Walking Tour. It has such rich insight and great recommendations. This tour eventually took us to the Ponte Vecchio, which prompted me to add it to your must-see list. Observing this scene for the first time is indeed breathtaking. The colors of the water and the surrounding landscape alone are stunning. Combined with the ancient architecture, it all adds up to a rather striking picture. You will notice a bridge crossing the Amo River; this bridge is believed to date back thousands of years and was actually rebuilt more than once. Thank goodness they decided to rebuild it so we could enjoy its beauty today!

6) Uffizi Gallery Tour

Birth of Venus - Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy
Birth of Venus – Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy

Fellow art lovers, you will rejoice at a couple of the must-see attractions on this list. If your schedule allows it, I recommend taking a full day just to explore the galleries and the amazing works of art.

Two Peasant Girls And A Servant Justus Suttermans Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy
Two Peasant Girls And A Servant Justus Suttermans Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy

Florence has at least two of the best galleries in the world and the Uffizi Gallery is without a doubt one of the most spectacular art museums there is. You will almost certainly recognize many of the artists and many of the works contained within it.

 

Primavera Spring Sandro Botticelli Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy
Primavera Spring Sandro Botticelli Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy

More information is available on these and many more at our gallery, Fine Art Masterpiece of the Uffizi. You may even want to view this gallery ahead of your trip so you are familiar with the artwork when you finally get to see it for yourself, in person.

7) Bargello Museum

Bargello Sculpture Museum Florence Italy
Bargello Sculpture Museum Florence Italy

The Bargello Museum may be referred to by many names, but you will want to make this a stop on your tour of Florence no matter which name you use. It contains some additional works of fine art, including more pieces by Michelangelo.

Bargello Sculpture Museum Florence Italy
Bargello Sculpture Museum Florence Italy

If you happen to be touring with others who don’t appreciate fine art quite as much as you do, that is okay. There is plenty of amazing architecture for everyone to observe that will add some variety to your tours and keep everyone in your group happy. These buildings really are works of art in their own right.

8) el Duomo Florence

el Duomo Florence - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
el Duomo Florence – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

After exploring the art museums, do take the time to explore the Florence piece de resistance, which is of course el Duomo.

el Duomo Florence Italy - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Cathedral
el Duomo Florence Italy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Cathedral

Earlier, I mentioned the museum located nearby but this cathedral deserves its own stop on your tour. Can you believe this magnificent structure is still standing, yet construction began just a few short years before 1300 AD? Its outer design features marble in a few different colors, contributing to its exquisite look.

Reflections of el Duomo Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Reflections of el Duomo Florence – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

If this place does not take your breath away, you may have to check to see if you are breathing at all. It is impossible to visit this place and not be completely moved. You may just find yourself lost in wonder simply from walking up to it. The intricacies and materials are splendid.

el Duomo Florence - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
el Duomo Florence – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

9) el Duomo Bell Tower

Florence in a Day  Top of el Duomo Bell Tower - Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy
Top of el Duomo Bell Tower – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

Okay, this is technically part of our eighth attraction in Florence. But it is so amazing that it merits its very own category.

There are many structures here, but the bell tower is show stopping. Just take a moment to admire the expanse of it all, from the design to the array of colors. It is a bit hard to believe that this magnificent creation is hundreds of years old. Venture up to the top of the bell tower while you are here and have a look at the surroundings from this high vantage point. You will find that the view from the bell tower top is simply spectacular!

10) Dessert in Florence

You cannot visit Florence without enjoying dessert, and, of course, a little wine. Besides, you will have done lots of walking on your visit so you deserve to treat yourself. (We walked over 25,000 steps a day on our trip!)

la Cattedrale Bar and Gelateria

 

Florence in a Day
Florence in a Day – Best Gelato in Florence

We always look up local ratings for places we are considering and la Cattedrale Bar and Gelateria was one of the most highly rated places located on the walk back to the hotel, so we decided to stop in. The food here was exquisite. The gelato in particular was absolutely delectable. Stay awhile and enjoy a genuine Italian treat at this charming place. It’s the perfect way to end a long and satisfying day of taking in the sights of Florence. One other fascinating thing that you will notice on your trip is the American music everywhere. Pink was playing while we savored dessert at one point! I had no idea American culture was that influential. It was actually hard to find an Italian restaurant that was playing Italian music. If you find one while on your trip, you must tell me!

Conclusion

You will be tired after you see all 10 attractions in Florence. But you will not regret a single moment of your tour here! There are many more reasons to visit Florence, but these 10 will give you a wonderful itinerary for your own visit.  

Co Author: Brittany VanDerBill – www.bvanderbillconsulting.com

 

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Florence in a Day – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Florence Italy

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