The city of Florence contributed largely to the cultural and political development of Europe. Even today Florence retains a strong resemblance to the late-medieval town it once was, even though it is Italy’s biggest tourist attraction. Visiting Florence is like stepping back into time.
Florence is a small town. It is possible to walk from one end of the city to the other in thirty minutes. Even so, there are two airports here and hundreds of hotels. Be sure to book reservations ahead because the hotels are usually full.
The best time to visit Florence is from April to June or in early December. This is the low season, but the weather is usually good and the prices are somewhat lower. July and August are the busiest months and the weather is sure to be hot.
The Best Attractions
The fourth largest cathedral in the world, the Piazza del Duomo is a must see. This building took almost two centuries to build and dominates the city’s skyline. The view from this building is fantastic, not to mention the beautiful stained glass windows and the dome. Behind the cathedral is the Duomo Museum. This museum has an impressive sculpture collection that includes pieces by Michelangelo.
The Piazza della Signoria is next on the list of must-see attractions. This building has been used as the hub of Florence’s political life for centuries. It is also surrounded by some of the city’s most notable buildings, including the Palazzo Vecchio where a copy of Michelangelo’s David stands guarding the entrance.
Along the banks of the Arno is the Ponte Vecchio, the famous 14th century bridge. The bridge is lined with shops selling everything from jewelry to meat.
The next tourist hot spot is the Santa Croce. Rumor has it that you can catch Stendhal’s Disease from entering this building. Fact shows that about twelve visitors a year actually do come down with this. This museum features a crucifix by Cimabue. It was damaged by floods in 1966.
The Bargello Museum has the most comprehensive range of medieval and Renaissance sculpture in Italy. Sculptures such as Bacchus by Michelangelo, David by Donatello and Mercury by Giambologna can be seen here along with numerous others.
Finally, don’t miss the Pitti Palace on the southern bank of the Arno. Originally designed by Brunelleschi for the Pitti family, it is a huge and imposing building with an interesting history.
Florence definitely has a lot to take in from museums, to churches and even public gardens, not to mention the various shops. It is a beautiful, magical place to visit, but do plan on doing a bit of walking due to the congestion.