Musement takes a look at 14 ways you can explore Florence, from the classics to the places you may have never heard of.
Every day, the city rightfully called the “Cradle of the Renaissance” endures an onslaught of visitors. Florence houses precious treasures of Italian culture, art, history, literature, and even fashion–many designer and leather brands were created there.
At Musement, we have created a list (obviously, non-exhaustive) with some ideas for discovering Florence among the classics and places you may have never heard of.
1. Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is a timeless classic. It would take a full day to visit it thoroughly, and that might not even be enough time. With a few tips though, you can enhance your visit and get lost in Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus without any worries.
At the top of the list of places to see for those who have never visited as well as those who have already admired its works.
2. The English Cemetery
This cemetery was placed outside the city walls when it was built in 1828 because it wasn’t Catholic. Besides the marvelous statues you can admire (and even sketch, if you found some inspiration from the Florentine masters in the museums), you can pay your respects at the tombs of famous personages from the past. A number of renowned figures are buried here, among whom you will find the legendary Fyodor Dostoyevsky as well as the last descendants of Shakespeare.
3. Ponte Vecchio
Home to the oldest goldsmiths in the city, Ponte Vecchio offers a wonderful view of the Arno River and the city of Florence. The bridge, remodeled multiple times over the years, is one of the most famous in the world.
4. Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica
Smell is perhaps the most fascinating of the five senses, and our most cherished memories are often connected to a particular and distinct scent. The art of making perfumes is just as fascinating, and you can discover it right in the heart of Florence. Pay a visit to the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, founded by Dominican friars who began producing fragrances in 1381. In fact, in 1533 they created a special scent for none other than Catherine de Medici.
This historical establishment is an incredibly artistic and historic landmark, worth a visit just to admire the ancient halls of the store—not to mention the fact that you can take a bottle of Florentine perfume history home with you.
5. Pitti Palace
Not far from Ponte Vecchio, the Pitti Palace is another symbol of the city and its history. Originally owned by the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, the palace was then sold to the Medici family where it became the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. During the short time Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, the palace was chosen by the monarchs as the Royal Palace.
The Pitti Palace is home to numerous museums such as the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fashion and Costume. An essential stop for those who want to learn about the history and culture of the city.
6. Evangelical Lutheran Church of Florence
After visiting the many wonderful Catholic churches in Florence, the Evangelical Lutheran Church on Lungarno Torrigiani offers something a little different. It’s interesting to compare its neo-medieval façade and the simplicity of its interior with the lavish decorations of the churches you’ve seen everywhere else in the city.
7. Florence Cathedral and the magnificent Brunelleschi Dome
A jewel of Renaissance art and architecture, the Duomo of Florence is a perfect example of the ingenuity of the masters of its time. It took approximately 140 years to be completed, although it has been remodeled over time. The majestic Brunelleschi Dome is not only a symbol of the cathedral, but of the entire city of Florence.
8. Bardini Museum
A house-turned-museum shaped by the eclectic tastes of its founder, the Bardini Museum features ultramarine blue walls, fine coffered ceilings, and a collection that includes more than 3,600 objects that span various centuries ranging from paintings, sculptures, armor, and musical instruments to pottery, coins, medals, and antique furniture. Even more, the museum often hosts interesting photography and contemporary art exhibitions.
9. Boboli Gardens
Initially intended to be used as a garden for the Pitti Palace, it has become a real open-air museum over the centuries. Besides being a world-famous Italian garden, Boboli Gardens features a large number of lavish sculptures, wide gravel paths, and fountains, making it a one of a kind place in Italy.
10. The antique dealers of Santo Spirito
On the topic of antique furniture, the Santo Spirito district—one of the most bohemian neighborhoods of the city, and at the same time one of the most authentic—is dotted with small antique shops where you can find unusual highly valuable treasures to take home with you.
11. Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria, along with Palazzo Vecchio and its impressive towers, the Loggia dei Lanzi, and Michelangelo’s David, has been the cultural and political center of the city since the Middle Ages. This David, however, is a replica as the original David is well preserved in the Accademia Gallery, along with other works not to be missed.
12. Horticulture Garden
If the amazing Boboli Gardens left you yearning to get lost between rows of lush plants on other marvelous grounds, you must see the Horticulture Garden. An experimental vegetable garden during the mid-19th century, the Horticulture Garden later became the backdrop for prestigious exhibitions and international fairs.
Its must-see attractions include a colorful dragon reminiscent of the Gaudi-designed Park Güell in Barcelona; the Giardino dei Giusti, a mirror image of the Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem; and a stunning giant steel-and-glass greenhouse where you can admire exotic plants while traveling a few centuries back in time.
13. Get lost in the historic city center
There is no better way to discover a city than by getting lost in its narrow streets. You could turn one corner and find the house of an artist who is a part of the city’s history or by walking along the same streets as Leonardo..
14. The restaurants
No trip is complete without a generous helping of the local cuisine. Here are our favorite restaurants in Florence, a thorough selection that suits all tastes and preferences.
If you’re still not satisfied or if you have more time available and want to take the opportunity to visit other lesser-known places, we have everything for you from trips out of town, hidden gems to discover, or things to do with the little ones.