Florence: historic old town


Duration: at least 1 day

  • Map view: click here
  • Reachability: well, via the motorway, or by bus / train

World Heritage Site

Florence became a UNESCO World Heritage Site for no reason

In its application to UNESCO to be included as a World Heritage Site, the city of Florence refrained from giving reasons, stating that any justification for the application was ridiculous, given that Florence is the world's largest accumulation of universally known works of art. This comment was accepted, no further justification was given and the old town of Florence has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. This has further boosted the fame of the Tuscan capital, with around 1,5-2 million tourists visiting this cradle of the Renaissance every year.

Why does Florence have so many art collections?

We owe the accumulated collections of works of art of architecture, painting, sculptures and works of scholarship in Florence above all to the Medici family, who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. Through their patronage, they brought the greatest Italian artists and scholars to Florence in the XNUMXth century, including Michelangelo, Botticelli, Giotto and Galileo, to name but a few. The Medicis, beginning with Cosimo I, understood perfectly how to combine economy, politics and the clergy in a profitable way. Visiting Florence is a must for Tuscany vacationers.

Florence has so much to offer that we can only make suggestions here. You can use our ideas to get your bearings first and then, depending on how long you want to stay in Florence, you will quickly find other highlights that are worth visiting. Therefore, the following recommendations are aimed more at Tuscany friends who are in Florence for the first time.

How to get to Florence

First, clarify your approach. We recommend arriving by train or bus, in both cases you arrive at the Piazza della Stazione (Stazione Santa Maria Novella), which is right on the pedestrian zone of the historic old town.

Since Florence is the capital of Tuscany, you can travel to Florence by public transport from anywhere in the country. Then make sure you don't miss your last chance to return!

By car to Florence

If you want to arrive by car, we recommend the parking garage at Piazale Caduti nei Laper (Fortezza da Basso), located on the edge of the pedestrian zone. It is the cheapest car park, so it is occupied quickest. You will almost certainly find a place in the most expensive parking garage at the train station, Piazza della Stazione, there are a total of 900 spaces.

Please note that if you park illegally, you will be prosecuted as far as Germany or Austria. The "ticket" doubles in price if you do not pay on the spot. That adds up from around € 35 to around € 70. Parking spaces in the pedestrian zone are reserved exclusively for authorized residents, here you will be towed away mercilessly.

tuscany florence art

The Duomo / Piazza del Duomo

Santa Maria Cathedral in Florence

First of all, of course, head for the Piazza del Duomo and meet tourists from all over the world here. You better think about what you really want to see in advance, because Florence offers you so much that is far more than a day's stay.

It is best to start at the cathedral. In addition to the entire highest architectural art, the special thing is undoubtedly the dome of this third largest church in Italy (25.000 seats). If you are good at walking, climb the dome (no elevator, 463 steps). This dome by builder Brunelleschi is said to have inspired Michelangelo for the dome of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. When you are up here, you can enjoy an unforgettable panoramic view over the whole of Florence with the Arno valley. And now you really feel like you've arrived in Florence.

The Uffizi Gallery / Piazza della Signora

Then stroll through the old town in the direction of Piazza della Signora, or let yourself be pushed there, because Florence is permanently overpopulated during the travel time.

The piazza is the location of the world famous David by Michelangelo (the original is in the Galleria dell'Accademia) and other famous sculptures. You are now at the Uffizi, the world's largest museum for medieval Italian art. It is best to have considered in advance whether you want to visit the Uffizi Gallery. If so, take into account that you will have to queue in a long line, even in the off-season.

The Uffizi Museum in Florence

The Uffizi, which was once the Medici office building, only allows a certain number of visitors access, there are block check-in every quarter of an hour and a waiting time of one to two hours is quite normal.

Buy tickets for the museum online

You can avoid the waiting time by booking the tickets online. To do this, you have to go towww.florence-museum.com) Specify the time you want to visit and after paying by credit card, print out the cards yourself. That costs almost twice the price, but saves you the queue. The online prices for adults are € 20,75, students (proof!) € 14,75 (all prices for 2020).

The Medici Residence / Pitti Palace

Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace

After visiting the Uffizi Gallery, and if you still fancy more art and classic Italian furnishings, head to Pallazzo Pitti, the Medici residence. On the way there you cross the Arno on the Ponte Vecchia, with the art and jewelry shops pinned to the bridge railing.

Old Bridge

The Old Bridge is the oldest bridge in Florence. It crosses the Arno River and includes a number of shops and jewellers. We dedicated an extra contribution to this special building.Ponte Vecchio in Florence"

Boboli garden

Or, if you are longing for peace and relaxation, then we recommend the Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli), the green oasis in the old town. Access is directly in the inner courtyard of the Pallazzo Pitti. Cosimo I created it as his personal pleasure garden. If you consider that the construction of the garden began in the Middle Ages and it took about 100 years for the 45.000 square meters to be structured and planted in 1658, then you have to be grateful to the Florentines for taking care of it over the centuries , even when they have not yet received financial compensation from the entrance fees.

Florence - Garden Boboli
Florence - Garden Boboli

You can also book access to the Boboli Gardens online, we do not consider this to be absolutely necessary because there are no restrictions. Admission at the box office is € 7, reduced tickets for students € 3.50, free admission for young people under 18 and pensioners aged 65 and over (proof). The online price is about double, the fee is also due for free admission.

Small tip from Toskanatour

We also want to note the trendiest ones most famous ice cream parlor in Florence, the Vivoli (Via dell'Isola delle Stinche 7r / www.vivoli.it), where the production of the delicate creams is celebrated. It would be a short deviation from the routes described above in the direction of the Chiesa Santa Croce, but it would be really worthwhile. Just ask for Vivoli, every local knows it because, for example, a good meal at home with friends is crowned with a dessert from Vivoli.

All of this can only be a modest excerpt from all that Florence has to offer. You can decide for yourself whether you want to visit this art and culture metropolis a second time. Then it would be recommended that you look for a hotel and rediscover the capital in the evenings after the tourist streams have left the city. And you will understand even better why this place was put on the list of world cultural heritage even without any justification.

Mark Twain in Florence

Mark Twain
Mark Twain

The famous American writer Mark Twain also stayed in Florence between 1878 and 1879. In his travel memories he describes his experiences in his typical style.

Image source: ENIT /fotoseca

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Last updated: 06.02.2024

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