Originally established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC, the last couple of millennia have seen Florence grow to become the most populous city in Italy’s Tuscany region. The Renaissance art and architecture alone make this a popular European destination.
But there is a lot to explore in this outstanding city, more than can be fit into a single trip, which becomes quite evident quickly. Plan you trip carefully with your top spots to check out, but also leave time to get out and actually enjoy the city at a leisurely pace.
Uffizi Palace and Gallery
In a city overflowing with history, the Uffizi Palace and Gallery is a key part of it. The palace itself was designed by Giorgio Vasari, and was built in the mid 1500s. That alone makes it worth visiting when you’re in Florence.
But the first two floors are also unbelievable galleries, housing ancient sculptures from the Middle Ages and beyond as well as paintings from the 14th-century and Renaissance. Spending time here is roughly the equivalent of taking a stroll through an art history textbook.
Piazza del Duomo
Known in English as Cathedral Square, the Piazza del Duomo is not an “outside the box” destination in Florence. This is one of the most visited locations in all of Europe, let alone Italy or Florence. It’s not hard to understand why.
This is literally and figuratively the heart of the city. Multiple historic and key buildings are located there, including Canonici’s palace, the Opera del Duomo Museum and the Loggia del Bigallo. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in this incredible spot.
The Florence Cathedral
One of the most stunning buildings situated at the Piazza del Duomo is the Florence Cathedral. A Gothic-style building, construction began in 1296 and wasn’t completed until 1436. The dome itself is an absolute masterpiece, as is the rest of the Cathedral.
While the building itself is known by many names, the experience of being there is a singular one. There are many cathedrals throughout Italy and Europe as a whole but this one in particular stands out, both in scope and in beauty.
Opened to the public in 1776, Boboli Gardens is one of the most stunning and historical parks of its kind in all of Florence. The gardens rest directly behind Pitti Palace, yet another wonderful destination for visitors to the city.
From the layouts to the accents to the lush greenery, the best word to describe Boboli Gardens is lavish. There’s a reason why this park is considered to be one of the top examples of a traditional Italian garden in the entire country.
Ponte Vecchio might be yet another historical experience in Florence, but this one is quite different from others on this list. First off, it is a medieval stone arch bridge over the Arno River that dates all the way back to 1117.
Ignoring the picturesque history of the bridge, there are numerous shops along the river’s banks at this point. While the shops have been there for centuries, the sellers have changed. These days, it’s more art dealers, jewelers and souvenir sellers than tanners and butchers.