I love Florence in all the ways you can love a city. I went there twice, once with my family and then on a school trip. For me, Firenze (as Italians say) is the best place ever- every corner is filled with a beautiful atmosphere, which invites you to cheer up, have a good time and love.
And now, without any more introductions, I will present you … top 12 most wanted!
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
The special thing about it is that it has all the Paradise Gates– the original golden gates from the Battisterio, which had been preserved in the museum since the flood from 1966. Another artwork that I noticed was the unfinished version of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Basilica Santa Croce
There are a lot of Renaissance famous people’s tombs, like Galileo Galilei’s, Michelangelo’s and many others. It has Cimabue’s Crucifix, and nearby, the Pazzi Chapel, which is a symbol of Renaissance architecture.
The Medici Chapels
Firstly, the building itself is impressive, with the interiors covered in an elegant marble- you could actually become aware of Medici’s wealth.
Il Porcellino (the fountain)
Well, the legend says that if you touch Porcellino’s nose you will come back to Florence. It is a very easy way to buy a ticket back to this wonderful city, right?
Visit Florence by night
Yes, this is something that you must do if you don’t like the stuffy concourse. I visited Florence in July with my family (and the Italian Zii’s- Zio Paolo and Danila) and every main touristic place was really crowded. There was full of touristic groups, of all nations, and nobody was paying attention to the other, so it was a complete chaos. Not talking about the queues- the one from the Cathedral was nearly surrounding half of it. Ain’t joking guys.
That’s why I reaaaally recommend you to give it a try: just visit it at night. When I went there on a school trip, organized by my class’ main teacher, Anca Ciofirla, we did this and it was awesome. Besides the fact that it was uncrowded– it was just our group and 3 Asian ones – you could see the city lights. All the main interest points were very nicely illuminated, and, because we were not hurrying at all, we took the time needed, observed the city in detail and took photos.
If you have this opportunity, you mustn’t miss it, because it is a wonderful chance to get to know Florence better!
Ponte Vecchio aka The Old Bridge
With the Vasari Corridor, the 2 make a great pair. Usually, the bridge is full of people, because it connects Oltrarno to the center of Florence. There are a lot of expensive jewelry boutiques, so, if you’re searching something fabulously extravagant, this is one of the best places to come!
The Boboli Gardens
Il Giardino di Boboli, behind the Pitti Palace, is a very calm place, where you can rest after a full day of sightseeing. Of course, if you want to see a beautiful view of Florence, and feel like a Medici prince(ss), you’ll have to climb the hill (stairs, guys, stairs!), but, chill down, there are not so many.
Galleria dell’Accademia or “here lives David”
It is the home, sweet home of some of Michelangelo’s unfinished artworks, as well as the famous David. And I can tell you something that you might know as well: David is more impressive in reality than it seems in the photos.
The Academy hosts some other sculptures and paintings, but usually everybody gives more attention to David and takes funny photos with him. You know, sometimes memories count more than the actual culture.
Florence is full of clothes shops, just like any other famous city. And here it is my duty to tell you what streets you absolutely must tick! Of course, you may be a super haute-couture girl, and do your shopping on the first 100 m of Via Roma (it is the street behind the Battisterio, which keeps going till Ponte Vecchio), where you have Prada, Emporio Armani, Gucci or Luisaviaroma. And Miu Miu, Michael Kors, Hugo and Liu Jo, if you walk a little bit more. Via de’ Tornabuoni, near Palazzo Strozzi, is also good if you want to buy expensive things- there are Roberto Cavalli, Bulgari, Dior, MaxMara and more.
But, if you’re a girl like me, you’ll want to buy cheaper things. I went on Via Roma (of course, not for Prada! J ) to do my shopping at Zara, Sisley and on Via Calimala at H&M and Puma. The list of the streets that I roved in order to find gifts for all my family + I is longer than you think, so I’ll finish it with this point:
Do you have little brothers/ sisters? Then Via dei Calzaiuoli is really good because it has the official Disney Store, where you can find almost everything your little siblings can imagine.
Let’s go to number 3!
Galleria degli Uffizi + Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria is the most popular square from Florence, a place where you can easily imagine the 1500s atmosphere.
The Uffizi Gallery is a place that you must visit. Some people do it in half a day, others in a full one and the art masters in more. My place is in the first 2 categories.
The truth is that this gallery is huge and each corner is art. And, honestly, there are so many world-wide famous masterpieces, that if you starred half an hour at each, you would not come alive out of this. Just kidding- maybe you’d come alive, but after months (or years) of living in the Uffizi.
Here are some of my favorite artworks, or… some photos that we thought were funny. I can’t keep being logical for many hours in an enormous museum, so I start having fun with my friends.
Climb in the Cupola of Brunelleschi
Ok, first you should visit all the complex of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore– the Baptistery and Il Duomo itself and then climb the world-famous cupola. I’ll tell you a brief history of this unique masterpiece:
The construction of the cathedral started in the 1296s and was finished in 1436. A lot of architects and artists worked hard for its completion, like Arnolfo di Cambio, Giotto, who designed the campanile and Filippo Brunelleschi, who designed the dome.
Although there had passed almost 150 years since the beginning of the construction, nobody managed yet to build the cupola. Each and every project of it eventually proved to be a failure. But how could Florence leave its main cathedral without the dome? There was no grandeur in it. Still, every cupola project was falling down. They had to come up with a smart solution, so they proclaimed a contest. Guess who won it?
Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti were the 2 champions. But, because Brunelleschi couldn’t stand Ghiberti, the first one faked an illness in order to make the other admit that he couldn’t handle the project. An artfulness Italian, what can I say? Finally, Brunelleschi made the best alternative dome that stands stock-still even now, after so many years of existence.
Why would you climb it? Even though there are -I think- 500 stairs, and you will meet a lot of tourist groups on your way, it is worth it. You see the interior of the Cathedral from an upper vision, admire the dome frescoes, which represent The Last Judgment. Honestly, ioHonet is a little scary to walk surrounded by all that devils (because the “path” is downside, near the Inferno), but when you start seeing the Angels on the other side, you immediately calm down.
After the “interior of the cupola” moment, you’ll go through some small and busy corridors and arrive on the top of the Cathedral, where you’ll see a great panorama of Florence. It’s a stunning city, and you’ll be convinced by that when you’ll see it from the highest point. With Giotto’s Campanile nearby, the city becomes even more beautiful, an idealistic one.
What should you do if you’re afraid of heights? Well, I was too, but there is nothing to be scared of. There is a fence that limits you from the actual outside, which makes you feel protected; you know, I was more scared by heights when I was in the cupola, near the frescoes, because there was a transparent limit.
I know that this might sound disappointing, like “OMG I was expecting for something, not an action” but, trust me, this is the best thing you can do while going to Florence.
You can see so many things just by walking, discover such beautiful places just by strolling. It is the best way to feel the city, to be a part of it. How can you love it, if you’re just an usual and spiritless visitor? The world doesn’t need that. Make the city belong to you, feel its atmosphere, try to get in the unknown- live an urban adventure in a famous city, get lost in its winding streets, then find your way and feel blessed. Talk to the local people, ask them questions, be more and more curious, respect the city as the one you were raised in. Understand it. The world was made for people, and people own it. The truth is- if you love more cultures (not just your native one), you become part of them, and they become part of you.
Don’t feel like a tourist, feel like a citizen.
Special thanks to my lovely Ziis, Daddy (who also took many of these photos), my headteacher Anca Ciofirla and Ruxi, who corrected this article. ♥