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The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence
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Things to Do in Florence

Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is the capital of Tuscany and the region’s artistic gem. This medieval city of red-tiled roofs is full of world-famous art, and is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. Florence's historic center is home to the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia, both must-see stops for visitors, with artwork by the likes of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and more. For fantastic views over the city, climb to the top of the Duomo, Brunelleschi’s architectural masterpiece and an iconic shape in the skyline. See where Michelangelo’s David first stood in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, and count the number of replicas now placed around the city. A stroll across the Ponte Vecchio provides views of the Arno River and the bridge's jewelry shops, while the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Pitti showcase the former home of the powerful Medici family. And, of course, when in Italy, it’s all about food: sample Tuscan cuisine, browse the colorful stalls of the Mercato Centrale at San Lorenzo, or take a cooking class. To explore outside of the city, try day tours into the Tuscan countryside to climb the leaning tower of Pisa, sip Chianti wine, see the medieval towers of San Gimignano, or walk around Siena's main square, home to the famous Palio horse race.
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Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi)
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The Uffizi Gallery houses the world’s most important collection of Florentine art, so unless you have Skip the Line tickets you’ll need to get ready to queue! The collection traces the rich history of Florentine art, from its 11th-century beginnings to Botticelli and the flowering of Renaissance art. At its heart is the private Medici collection, bequeathed to the city in the 18th century.
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Michelangelo's Statue of David (Il Davide di Michelangelo)
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there is no shortage of “david” statues in florence, but if you want to see the real thing—the one that inspired all the copies—you've got to go to the galleria dell'accademia, or accademia gallery. it was custom built to showcase michelangelo's masterpiece, and it does so beautifully.

michelangelo's “david” was carved from 1501 to 1504 and originally stood at the entrance of the palazzo vecchio on the piazza della signoria. not long after the statue was unveiled, a particularly rowdy fight taking place in the palazzo led to a chair getting thrown out of a window—directly onto the david's arm, which broke in three places. the statue was moved to its present home in 1873 to further protect it from damage, and a replica was placed outside the palazzo vecchio in the spot where the original first stood.

365bet体育网站 the marble michelangelo was given to work with for this statue was imperfect and had already been partly carved by his predecessor.

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Piazzale Michelangelo
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365bet体育网站if you want to catch those iconic, sweeping views of florence you've seen in postcards, head to piazzale michelangelo. from an elevated position overlooking the city, the fabulous views take in the city's fortified walls, the river arno, the tower of the palazzo vecchio and, of course, the round red dome of the duomo.

during the day, drink in the views as you stroll along the renaissance promenade, overlooked by yet another copy of michelangelo's david. return in the evening for magical views of florence floodlit at night.

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Florence Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori)
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you'll catch glimpses of the red-tiled dome of the duomo, or cathedral of santa maria dei fiori, peeping over the rooftops as soon as you arrive in florence.

365bet体育网站the 13th-century sienese architect arnolfo di cambio was responsible for building many landmarks in florence but this is his showstopper. the beautiful ribbed dome was creatively added by brunelleschi in the 1420s.

the building took 170 years to complete, and the facade was remodeled to reflect cambio’s design in the 19th century.

365bet体育网站inside the duomo, your eyes are inevitably drawn upwards to that soaring painted dome and lovely stained-glass windows by such masters as donatello. visit the crypt, where brunelleschi's tomb lies, or to the top of the enormous dome itself for stupendous views over florence.

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Piazza della Signoria
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florence’s spacious piazza della signoria has long been one of the city’s main meeting points. the palazzo vecchio, which anchors one side of the square, was once home to the rulers of the florentine republic, and today still serves as the city’s town hall. this square, then, was often used by those seeking favor (or protesting) their government.

today, the palazzo vecchio houses a museum along with the town hall, and the piazza della signoria is lined with other major attractions. in front of the palazzo vecchio you’ll find a copy of michelangelo’s famous “david” statue (in the place where the original once stood). the open-air gallery that is the loggia dei lanzi contains a collection of sculptures. and to one side of the palazzo vecchio is a fountain with a huge statue of neptune.

365bet体育网站 the piazza della signoria was the site of the 14th century “burning of the vanities” led by the monk savonarola, and it’s also where savonarola was later hanged.

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Ponte Vecchio
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The ancient Ponte Vecchio bridge is as much a symbol of Florence as the red dome of the Duomo. Ponte Vecchio means old bridge, and indeed it dates back to the 14th century. The three-arched bridge is picturesquely lined with several stories of jewelry shops and market stalls. It’s one of the most popular places in Florence for taking a stroll or just hanging out, and the decorative central arches are picture-perfect spots for snapping photos of Florence. Running across the top of the Ponte Vecchio is part of the famous Vasari Corridor, built for the ruling Medicis by the Renaissance painter and designer Vasari. The private enclosed walkway leads from the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi Museum, across the top of the bridge to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the river.
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Brunelleschi's Dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi)
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365bet体育网站standing tall over the city of florence, brunelleschi’s dome is an architectural feat, the most prominent part of the florence cathedral, and a symbol of florence itself. located in the city's historic center, the cathedral complex that holds the dome is a unesco world heritage site. the whole area is known to locals as the “duomo” or dome, after the structure. designed by filippo brunelleschi and completed in 1436, it took sixteen years to build. and at 45 meters wide, it is the single largest masonry dome in the world.

365bet体育网站 brunelleschi came to the rescue when, after over 100 years of cathedral construction, there were plans for to add a dome but no idea how to erect one. he went against existing construction norms and resolved to build a dome without wooden scaffolding — one that would support itself as it was built. it was an engineering and design marvel at the time, and the fact that it still stands tall more than 600 years later is a testament to its masterpiece.

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Sant'Ambrogio Market (Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio)
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florence's most famous and popular market is the aptly named mercato centrale – but it's by no means the only market in the city. another ideal spot to pick up picnic supplies, see what's fresh before you browse local menus or simply enjoy the colors of an italian food market is the mercato di sant'ambrogio (mercato alimentare sant'ambrogio).

365bet体育网站 also known as the sant'ambrogio market, the site is home to stalls that sell many of the same sorts of items seen at the mercato centrale – fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, fish, cheese, spices and other sundry pantry essentials. in a couple areas of the market, you'll also find vendors selling clothing and household items.

365bet体育网站 because the mercato centrale is the more famous market, the mercato alimentare sant'ambrogio offers a slightly less touristy experience. it's in the historic center, so it's unlikely to be tourist-free, but you may find more locals than visitors browsing here.

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Palazzo Vecchio
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365bet体育网站historic palazzo vecchio ('old palace') has been at the political heart of florence for more than 7 centuries. with its late-medieval crenellated roofline and soaring defensive tower, it dominates the lovely buildings and sculptures of piazza della signoria in the heart of florence.

the striking building was built in the early 1300s, and was redecorated by the ruling medici family in the 16th century. inside you can imagine how life at the top was lived in renaissance florence by touring the luxuriously decorated chambers.

from the courtyards to the chapel and private rooms, you’ll see elaborately decorated ceilings, frescoes by the celebrated renaissance painter vasari, and statues by such luminaries as donatello and michelangelo.

365bet体育网站 climb to the top of the tower for stupendous views of florence and the arno valley.

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Great Synagogue of Florence (Tempio Maggiore)
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with its massive dome patterned in colorful designs, the great synagogue is an architectural marvel and significant synagogue of italy. historically florence has always had a small jewish community, with the first synagogue dating back to the 13th century. the great synagogue, however, was constructed from 1874 to 1882 financed by a local jewish citizen who sought out to create a synagogue with beauty that would rival the other structures of florence. today it is still one of the largest in europe. there is also a small jewish museum with relics on display.

the synagogue features influences from both italian and islamic traditions. its oxidized bright green copper roof makes the dome stand out in the city skyline. the interior features striking alternating layers of granite and travertine, with three large arches framing the entrance. many draw comparisons in style to the hagia sofia of istanbul.

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More Things to Do in Florence

Opera del Duomo Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo)

Opera del Duomo Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo)

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365bet体育网站despite the name, florence’s museo dell’opera del duomo has nothing to do with opera music - “opera” also being the italian word for creative works, in this case the artwork that was once inside the cathedral.

365bet体育网站 the museo dell’opera del duomo is located conveniently right behind the duomo, for which most of its collection was originally created. inside you’ll see an unfinished michelangelo pieta that he had apparently started as a piece to decorate his own tomb. he was later so unhappy with it that he broke it, but it was later put back together by a new owner. the face of nicodemus is said to be a self-portrait of the sculptor.

other highlights of the museum collection are ghiberti’s original bronze panels from florence’s baptistery. the doors you see on the baptistery today are excellent reproductions, but the originals are kept in air-tight containers to prevent further damage.

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Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano)

Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano)

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365bet体育网站built in 1564, the vasari corridor was designed to enable the grand duke cosimo i de medici to move between the pitti palace where he lived, the uffizi where he had his offices, and on to the palazzo vecchio, the seat of florentine government. almost one kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) long, the elevated corridor passes overhead from the uffizi, across the arno river over the top of the shops lining the ponte vecchio, through the church of santa felicita until it reaches the palazzo pitti.

built in just five months, vasari corridor was a major feat of both architecture and civic power.

the vasari corridor is lined with self-portraits by artists, nearly 1,000 paintings, dating from the 16th century. access to the corridor is only by guided tour.

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Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti)

Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti)

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365bet体育网站the pitti palace was built by rivals of the powerful medici family in the mid-1400s. a century later, the medicis took over the huge renaissance palace, and it was the home of florentine rulers until the early 20th century.

today the massive palace houses a number of picture galleries and museums, and is surrounded by gardens and ornate fortifications. to see the entire collection would take days if not weeks, so choose your favorites and plunge in!

a tour of the royal apartments reveals the medicis' taste for over-the-top decor. an impressive collection of renaissance masterpieces is housed in the palatina gallery, with works by raphael, titian and rubens.

to see the medicis family's silverware, head to the silver museum, or take a stroll around the renaissance boboli gardens, with its statues and grottoes.

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Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni)

Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni)

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence
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one of the oldest buildings in florence, it's thought that the octagonal baptistery stands on the site of an ancient roman temple. it may even have been built as early as the 5th century. the striking romanesque cladding of white and green marble was added in the early 12th century.

365bet体育网站inside, the baptistery features gold mosaics, marble columns and tombs. look up to catch the best views of the gilded mosaics covering the cupola.

365bet体育网站perhaps the baptistery's most famous attraction is its trio of gilded bronze doors, decorated with panels. examine the panels up close to admire their incredible details.

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Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence
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the piazza della repubblica is a public square in the center of florence that sits on some of the city’s most important historic sites. it was once the city’s roman forum — then subsequently its market and old ghetto, after the forum was extensively built over in the early middle ages. the present square was established in the 19th century risanamento during the period in which florence was briefly the capital of a reunited italy. the expansion of the square meant the demolition of many significant structures.

the square was revitalized after the war, and today is the home to many street performers and artists as well as historic literary cafes and traveling exhibitions. sitting in the piazza you can see the colonna dell'abbondanza (column of abundance) and the arcone, the most prominent remaining structures of the past.

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Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence
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palazzo strozzi may not be one of florence's most popular museums, but those in the know say this fine example of renaissance architecture is a must-see spot in italy for art, history and italian culture. what was constructed during the late 1400s as a residence for the strozzi family, later became one of the largest temporary exhibition spaces in the city, drawing private collections from across the globe to the halls of this florence destination.

in addition to galleries and halls jam-packed with ancient art, frescos and contemporary design, palazzo strozzi offers travelers and locals new and unique ways to engage with art. the scenic courtyard hosts free concerts, movie nights and cultural activities in warmer months, while permanent touch-screen installations showcase the history of the museum for those interested in learning more.

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Ponte Santa Trinita

Ponte Santa Trinita

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365bet体育网站the most famous bridge in florence is the ponte vecchio, or old bridge, dating from the mid-14th century. but just downstream from the ponte vecchio is another beautiful bridge, the favorite of many florentines - the ponte santa trinita.

although italy and germany were allies during world war ii, nazi troops destroyed every single bridge in florence spanning the arno except for one - the ponte vecchio. the ponte santa trinita was turned to rubble. when the bridge was rebuilt in 1958, some of the stones used were from ammanati’s 16th century bridge, recovered from the arno after the war. the rest of the stones were quarried from the same place ammanati went to get stone in 1567. even the statues of the four seasons were recovered from the river, although the statue of “spring” remained headless until her head was found in the river in 1961.

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Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)

Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)

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giotto's elegant bell tower (campanile di giotto) flanks florence's duomo and baptistery, rounding off piazza del duomo's prime attractions. designed by giotto in 1334, the gothic tower is faced in the similar nougat-hued marbles of the duomo. the design features five distinct tiers decorated with arched windows, sculptures and geometric patterns of different colored marbles.

take a close-up look at the lovely plaques decorating the tower at ground level, sculpted by pisano. the originals are housed in the nearby duomo museum.

more than 400 steps climb to the top of the 82-meter (25-foot) bell tower, for wonderful views of florence and the river arno.

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Oltrarno

Oltrarno

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365bet体育网站central florence is split by the arno river. the main sights - the duomo, the uffizi, the accademia - are on one side of the river, while the neighborhood known as the oltrarno is on the other. “oltrarno” actually means “beyond the arno,” or “the other side of the arno.”

among the attractions in the oltrarno are the massive pitti palace, to which the ruling medici family moved after leaving their residence in the palazzo vecchio, and the sprawling boboli gardens behind the pitti. you can also visit the santo spirito basilica (designed by brunelleschi, who designed the cathedral’s famous dome) and the church of santa maria del carmine (with the fantastic brancacci chapel and its filippino lippi frescoes). keep going through the flatter part of the oltrarno and you’ll eventually head up staircases and narrow streets into the hills overlooking the city. you know that postcard view you keep seeing all over town? you can see it for yourself from the piazzale michelangelo.

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Florence Santa Croce Basilica (Basilica di Santa Croce)

Florence Santa Croce Basilica (Basilica di Santa Croce)

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence
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work on this beautiful basilica began in 1294, though the facade and bell tower are 19th-century additions. the world's largest franciscan church, it houses 16 chapels and famous frescoes by giotto.

365bet体育网站 on the inside, the church is a classic example of tuscan gothic. take a walk around the immense and lofty interior to spot michelangelo’s tomb by vasari, the giotto frescoes in the peruzzi chapel, the gaddi frescoes, porcelain details by della robbia, and work by donatello.

along with michelangelo, other famous names buried or commemorated in santa croce include the renaissance architect alberti, galileo, ghiberti, machiavelli, marconi, and dante.

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Florence Central Market (Mercato Centrale)

Florence Central Market (Mercato Centrale)

The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence
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designed by the renowned architect giovanni mengoni in the late 19th century, florence’s mercato centrale is a cavernous, two-storey market hall that’sl full of tuscan foods. the biggest market in the city, on the outside it’s all iron and lots of glass. enter on the ground floor to see rows and rows of meats and cheeses including mounds of fresh buffalo mozzarella, and food bars where you can stop for a snack or a panini. the northern corner’s where to buy fish and shellfish, while the second floor is given over to vegetable stands.

all kinds of foods can be bought here, from fresh bread to pasta and pizza, gelato and chocolate. there’s also the popular chianti classico wine store, which you can arrange to have any wine you buy shipped home. you can also sign up for wine tasting classes or head to the market’s cooking school.

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Piazza Santa Croce

Piazza Santa Croce

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the pretty piazza santa croce is a public square in central florence located just to the east of the piazza della signoria. the square gets its name from the main building facing the piazza, the santa croce basilica.

365bet体育网站 the basilica of santa croce is a 15th century franciscan church in which you’ll find the tombs of many famous florentines. those buried at santa croce include michelangelo, maciavelli, rossini, ghiberti, and galileo. the church’s interior also features some noteworthy giotto frescoes.

two other buildings of note facing the piazza are the palazzo dell’antella and the palazzo cocchi-serristori. the former is a one-time residential palace with a 17th century facade covered in detailed murals, while the latter was a smaller private home built in the 15th century from a 14th century structure. in the piazza santa croce itself there is a statue dedicated to dante.

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Buontalenti Grotto (Grotta del Buontalenti)

Buontalenti Grotto (Grotta del Buontalenti)

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365bet体育网站built in the 16th century in florence’s boboli gardens, buontalenti grotto is the largest grotto in the city. named after the architect who oversaw its construction in the late 16th century, it was commissioned by grand duke of tuscany and has since featured dan brown’s bestselling novel.

a curious-looking place indeed, on both the outside and inside the grotto’s covered in man-made stalagmites and mythical mosaic creatures including sea goats. buontalenti grotto is divided into three rooms with the first, and biggest, styled in the most natural way as a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. there are also a few anthropomorphic creatures created out of stones and shells thrown in there for good measure. the next room is similarly decorated to the first, and includes frescoes depicting minerva and giunone. the third room is also known for its impressive frescoes, but here you’ll also see a green marble fountain and a ceiling painted to resemble a sky full of birds.

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Pitti Palace Palatine Gallery

Pitti Palace Palatine Gallery

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365bet体育网站one of the grandest sweeps of architecture in florence, the pitti palace was built in the 15th century. its gallery includes a huge collection of paintings dating from the 15th to 17th century, and occupying the whole left wing of the first floor, one of the most significant groups of works is by titian and raphael. you’ll also see important works by rubens, including the four philosophers and the allegory of war, and pieces by caravaggio and velazquez. in fact, there are over 500 works on show in all.

and it’s not just canvases that you’ll see; the palatine gallery is also known for its frescoes. laid out according to the personal tastes of its collectors from the house of medici, rather than by painting school or by chronological order, the gallery has been open to visitors since the day leopold i of lorraine opened it back in 1828. there is also a cafe in the courtyard of the pitti palace.

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The Top 10 Things To Do in Florence
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