/\

AD

Photo: Shutterstock

Places

The art and architecture of Florence

If you’re interested in architecture and art, Florence will not disappoint. The entire city is an open museum, full of beautiful palaces and decorated churches. But there are other gems as well. Åsa Johansson, who has been living in Florence for the past 18 years, shares her personal favorites.

Francesca Fumagalli

The cathedral

Florence’s cathedral, Il Duomo, or la Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, never fails to impress. It is the third biggest church in the world after Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Paul’s in London. The foundation stone was laid in 1296, but the beautiful marble-clad facade was only completed in the 19th century. The building is topped off by Brunelleschi’s renowed red brick cupola, and you can get to the top by walking up the 463 steps. The reward for your efforts is one of the most beautiful views in Florence.

Il Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore

Piazza Duomo

Show on map

Shutterstock

The city hall

The Florence City Hall, Palazzo Vecchio, is so grand it has none other than Michelangelo’s statue David (albeit a copy) standing guard outside it on the beautiful Piazza Signoria. Anolfo di Cambio designed the building in the 13th century, whilst the renowned Vasari, whose enormous talent is confirmed in the magnificent Il Salone de’500, decorated the interior. During the Middle Ages, this was the meeting room of the Grand Council. It got its name from the fact that the Council was made up of a body of 500 citizens who were given the task of deciding the fate of Florentines. Palazzo Vecchio is well worth a visit, ideally with a guide telling the many and often bloody events that have happened here.

Palazzo Vecchio

Piazza della Signoria

Show on map

Francesca Fumagalli

The villa

Villa Bardini is one of the most seductive places in central Florence. Built in the Middle Ages, it is today surrounded by a 4-hectare park that has unexpected views over Florence as it slopes down towards the Arno River. Stroll through the greenery of the giardino all’italiana (Italian garden), with its beautiful, long stone staircase in the baroque style or take a walk through the English-Chinese section with its exotic plants or under the pergola, which during the spring is covered by fragrent wisteria. Villa Bardini is also home to one of the best restaurants in Florence - the Michelin-starred La La Leggenda dei Frati.

Villa Bardini

Costa San Giorgio 2, Florens

Show on map

Francesca Fumagalli

The food market

A visit to the beautiful Mercato Centrale, which is located a stone’s throw from the Santa Maria Novella train station, is a must. This 19th century building was designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni in wrought iron and it is well worth looking up in order to admire the beautifully decorated roof. The lower level of Mercato Centrale is home to a traditional food market that is open Monday to Saturday until 2 pm. Florentines go there to buy meat, fish, bread and colorful vegetables. Since 2014, the upper level has hosted a food court where you can eat lunch or dinner between 8am and Midnight, 364 days a year.

Mercato Centrale

Piazza del Mercato Centrale

Show on map

Shutterstock

The Bridge

The Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous bridges in the world. No one is completely certain who designed the bridge or when it was built, but what is certain is that during the 15th century, the city’s butchers were asked to work on the bridge so that unwanted offal could be dropped straight down into the river. Gradually, the butchers were replaced by jewelry shops selling gold and glittering gemstones that even today can be found in the small bottegas that crowd the bridge. On top of the Ponte Vecchio, you can see the Vasaric Corridor that Cosimo de Medici I asked architect Giorgio Vasari to build in 1565. Cosimo wanted a corridor that connected the Medici family’s home in Palazzo Pitti with the family’s office gli Uffizi, which is now home to the Uffizzi Museum. In this way, the Medici family avoided having to come into contact with the local inhabitants. Today, the walls of the Vasaric Corrior are hung with the Uffizi’s collection of self-portraits, which includes works by Guttusu and Chagall.

Ponte Vecchio

Shutterstock

The view

The most famous vantage point in Florence is from Piazzale Michelangelo. In the evenings, couples and tourists flock here to watch the sunset that gilds the city’s already beautiful silhouette. The square was built in 1869 as part of an ambitious project to renew the city for the emerging middle class. At that time, Florence was the capital of Italy and wanted to show its best side. Another copy of Michelangelo’s David can be found here too, this time made in bronze, not marble. It is said that 18 bulls were needed to drag the statue to the top of the hill. It is touristy at Piazzale Michelangelo, but its still a great spot, especially early in the morning, where you might want to enjoy a freshly baked croissant and a hot cappuccino while Florence wakes beneath your feet.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo

Show on map

Francesca Fumagalli

The café

Caffé Gilly is one of the oldest cafés in Florence. It opened in 1733, but moved to its current site on Piazza della Repubblica in the 1920s. It is the only café in Florence built in the belle epoque style, with stained glass windows, Murano glass candlesticks and frescoed ceilings. Florentines come here to eat some of the most delicious croissants in the city, drink an espresso at the bar or have a glass of wine in the outdoor seating area.

Caffé Gilly

Via Roma 1 rosso, Florens

Show on map

Last edited: October 8, 2018

AD

Close map

Category

From the article

Share this tips

Close

Looking for something special?

Filter your search by

Close