Florence (Firenze in Italian) is the capital of the province of the same name and also of the region Tuscany. It is the second most visited city in Italy after Rome. Famous sights are the Duomo, the Uffizi Museum and the Ponte Vecchio. Florence is also a traffic hub and therefore a good base to visit Tuscany‘s other interesting towns.
All about Florence
There is a tourist office in the city’s main train station. Other Info Points are located at the airport, in Via Cavour, at the Brancacci Chapel and at the Bigallo Museum.
The Firenzecard costs 85 Euro and gives 72 hours of free access to the museums (and some of the city’s churches). The Firenzecard+ costs 7 Euro extra and has the added value of being able to use public transport.
The entire historical center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 10% of the country’s works of art are to be found in the Tuscan capital.
The Badia Fiorentina stands right in front of the Bargello in the historical centre of the city. It is the oldest monastery of Florence. It is in this church that Dante met his beloved Beatrice. Highlight is the Chiostro degli Aranci.
A visit to the city had best start at the Piazza del Duomo. The Cathedral is built around the earlier Santa Reparata Cathedral. Highlights are Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The Duomo is free, there is a combo-ticket for these other highlights.
Superb museums are located in Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Vecchio and the Galleria degli Uffizi.
Baptistery of Saint John
The Baptistery of Saint John or Florence Baptistery is one of the oldest and most famous buildings in the city. The doors made by Lorenzo Ghiberti on the north and east sides caused Michelangelo to coin their nickname, “Gates of Paradise”.
Loggia del Bigallo (and museum)
The Loggia del Bigallo is a former orphanage on the Piazza del Duomo. Nowadays it houses a small museum and an exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. Highlight of the museum is a painting with the oldest known cityscape of Florence.
Santa Croce Basilica
The Santa Croce Basilica is a church on the Piazza Santa Croce. The church is not only packed with works of art but also houses the remains of none other than Michelangelo. There are frescoes by Giotto and father and son Gaddi, among others.
San Miniato al Monte Church
The San Miniato al Monte Church stands on a hilltop near Piazzale Michelangelo. If you get up early, you can go and listen to a mass with Gregorian chant at 07.00 hours. The façade is preceded by a beautiful monumental staircase.
San Lorenzo Basilica
The San Lorenzo Basilica is probably the oldest church in Florence. Several members of the Medici family are buried in the church, as is the great artist Donatello. The Medici Chapels are the highlight of this important example of Renaissance architecture.
Santissima Annunziata Basilica
The Santissima Annunziata Basilica is especially worth a visit because of the so-called Chiostrino dei Voti. There is of course also a fresco painted by a real angel. It is one of the city’s architecturally more sober churches.
Florence has its own airport, Amerigo Vespucci Airport in the Peretola district. However, most tourists arrive at Pisa‘s Galileo Galilei Airport. From both airports there are good connections to the city center.
There are a number of train stations in Florence. The central station is called Santa Maria Novella and is within walking distance of the city centre and most sights. The city is on the train line between Rome and Milan and there is also a direct train to Pisa. Florence does not have a metro system. The central bus square is right next to the station. Most of the bus connections outside the city are provided by the company Flixbus.
Florence is very easy to reach by car. It is the most central city of Italy and a junction of several important roads. The Autostrada del Sole, the highway that connects northern Italy with the tip of the boot, passes the city. There is a direct road to Siena (exit Firenze-Certosa) and the Autostrada Firenze-mare (exit Firenze Nord) leads to the Tuscan coast.
The most important event held each year is the historic football match. Despite the name, this extremely violent spectacle has very little to do with football as it is played nowadays. The Scoppio del Carro takes place on Easter Sunday. Apart from these there are several other interesting annual events in Florence.
The region was already inhabited in Etruscan times and became a flourishing settlement in Roman times under the name of Florentia. Especially under the Medici (from the 16th century) and under the House of Lorraine Florence became extremely wealthy. The latter were in power from the 18th century until the unification of Italy. Florence was the capital of the new state from 1864 to 1870. Read a short history of Florence.
Florence is surrounded by picturesque hill towns. One of the most beautiful ones is Fiesole, which also offers a great view of the provincial capital.