What to see in Florence
Florence is so full of monuments and places of interest that it is difficult to provide a complete list. In addition to the main attractions, which we attempt to summarize below, we recommend taking some time to wander around the city, without a precise destination in mind: this way you will stumble across many less famous, but equally fascinating, treasures.
Starting in the city centre, the main sights are easy to reach on foot. Piazza della Signoria, where Palazzo Vecchio is located, is the vibrant heart of the Tuscan capital, the political landmark of the city, once the residence of the Medici family and now Florence's town hall and museum information office. The Salone del Cinquecento is the most majestic room, adorned by works by Michelangelo, Baccio Bandinelli, Vasari and Stadano. It was originally where the representatives of the city council met, before being converted by Cosimo I de’ Medici into his court.
On the façade beneath the arches of the balcony is a series of crests painted in 1953 symbolising aspects of the Republic of Florence. The best known is the crest of the red lily on white background, which today remains the emblem of Florence.
Near Piazza della Signoria is Palazzo Pitti, formerly the main residence of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Today it houses a number of museums: the Palatine Gallery, located in the noble palace rooms, and containing works painted in the late Renaissance and the Baroque period, the Gallery of Modern Art with works by the Macchiaioli movement, and the Royal Apartments, the Costume Gallery, dedicated to historic costumes, accessories, theatre costumes and cinematography, the Carriages Museum, the Silver Museum, dedicated to the applied arts, and the Porcelain Museum.
Behind Palazzo Pitti are the four entrances to the gardens of the grand dukes, the Boboli Gardens, which extend as far as Fort Belvedere. This is one of the finest examples of gardens in Italy, an open-air museum with its architectural-landscape design, and its collection of sculptures, ranging from pieces from ancient Rome to the 20th century.
In the heart of the historic city centre is the most famous church in Florence, Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore, in Piazza del Duomo. The splendid cupola designed engineered by Brunelleschi dominates the city, a landmark to guide you around the Tuscan capital.
Next to the Duomo is the baptistery, the Battistero di San Giovanni, famous for its three bronze doors with relief sculptures. Inside is the famous Judgement Day fresco by Buffalmacco, the source of Michelangelo’s inspiration for his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.