Art and History: other things to do in Florence Italy
Been in Florence already, tired of the top three attractions? No problem: there are tens of Museums and historical sites in Florence. Most of them would make the fortunes of many cities, but in Florence, so rich in things to do, they necessarily become minor attractions. If my suggestion of hiring directly a professional tourist guide to visit the top three attractions was valuable, it is even more when it comes to these attractions, where you can’t find a lot of information. The guide knows how Florence tickets work, if you need Firenze Card, and you can choose between a group or a private tour. We selected some places for you: putting them on a list of “other” things to do in Florence Italy is something that made us feel bad… it’s almost offensive!
Palazzo Vecchio Museum
Every tourist in Florence gets to see Piazza Della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, erected in 1299. Not many though pay the ticket to see the museum inside, not knowing what they are missing. Inside Palazzo Vecchio, you can see the apartments of Cosimo de Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, entirely decorated by Giorgio Vasari and his workshop. This would be enough to justify a visit, however, there is a lot more: a statue by Michelangelo, another by Donatello, a chapel decorated by Bronzino and the gorgeous room of the maps. Palazzo Vecchio is open every day from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, except for Thursdays when it closes early (at 2:00 PM). From April to September, Palazzo Vecchio extends the opening hours, from 9:00 AM to 12:00 AM while Thursdays still follow the 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM rule. The ticket costs € 10.00 (€ 14.00 to also have a chance to climb on top of the tower).
|Discover Palazzo Vecchio and the Medici|
Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens
Palazzo Pitti was originally built for Luca Pitti, rich merchant and banker, during the 15th century. Later it became the royal palace of the Medici dynasty. The palace is filled with the collections of paintings and precious objects of the most important family of the Renaissance, not to speak about the magnificent frescoes decorating the rooms. Behind the palace, you’ll find the largest historical gardens in Italy: the monumental Boboli Gardens, a perfect place to spend some hours in relax, far from the crowd of tourists filling the city center. There are two tickets to buy to entirely visit Palazzo Pitti: one (€ 13.00 + € 3.00 reservation fees) is for visiting the Palatine Gallery and the Modern Art Gallery, the other (€ 7.00 + € 3.00 reservation fees) is for the Boboli Gardens and the Treasure Rooms. Is it worth paying the reservation fee? From May to September, my answer is yes: not because you need to reserve in advance, but because you can find long lines at the ticket office. The best thing to do is to buy your tickets at the ticket office in via Dei Calzaiuoli, so that when you get to Palazzo Pitti you just have to enter and enjoy your visit. Palazzo Pitti is open every day except for Mondays, from 8:15 AM to 6:50 PM. Schedule is variable for the Boboli Gardens: they can close as early as 4:30 PM depending on daylight saving time and month of the year.
|Request a Tour of Pitti and Boboli|
This is an often overlooked attraction, but it’s one of the most beautiful places and one of the “must” things to do in Florence Italy. The Medici Chapels are a small but magnificent Museum behind the church of San Lorenzo, which contains the tombs of the Medici family. The Museum is made of three rooms: one is the crypt, which actually contains the bones of the Medici (moved here in the eighteenth century for hygienic reasons; the second room is the Chapel of the Princes, where six of the seven Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany were originally buried. This mausoleum, built in the seventeenth century, is a celebration of the wealth of the Medici, being made all in semi-precious stones and marbles. The third ans last room is a masterpiece of Michelangelo: the so called New Sacristy contains the tombs of some of the Medici bankers, decorated with seven statues by the master of arts plus two more by his helpers, all enclosed in a room designed by the same Michelangelo. The Medici Chapels are open everyday from 8:15 AM to 1:50 PM; the ticket costs € 6.00, with a reservation fee of € 3.00 which is worth paying only during high season, from May to september and only if you want to go in the central hours of the morning.
|See the Medici Chapels|
Located inside one of the most ancient buildings in Florence, a former prison, the Bargello Museum is for sculpture what the Uffizi Gallery is for painting. The collection goes from Gothic works to the early Renaissance, with many works by Donatello, most notably his famous Bronze David, Andrea del Verrocchio and Luca Della Robbia, not forgetting the panels by Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti whose competition is considered the start of the Renaissance. The mature Renaissance and Mannerism are also well represented with four works by Michelangelo, including his beautiful Bacchus, and more by Bandinelli, Cellini, Ammannati and Giambologna. The Bargello Museum doesn’t contain only works of sculpture, but also many more collections, including ceramics, coins, seals and various other objects. The Bargello Museum is open every day except for the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month and the 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of the month, from 8:15 AM to 1:50 PM. The ticket price is € 4.00, with a reservation fee of € 3.00 which is not worth paying. You will never find a long line at the Bargello Museum, if you are so unlucky to find a large group just in front of you, you will have to wait 5 minutes at worst.
|Masterpieces of Michelangelo at the Bargello|
Basilica di Santa Croce
Also known as the temple of Italian glories, Santa Croce hosts the tombs of many illustrious Italians, starting with Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei to continue with Niccolò Machiavelli and Gioacchino Rossini. It is also filled with Medieval frescoes, made by Giotto and his followers mainly in the fourteenth century. Renaissance art is also part of the visit, with a high-relief early Annunciation by Donatello and a crucifix in wood by the same artist, object of a contest with Brunelleschi, whose Pazzi Chapel, an example of Renaissance perfection in architecture, is the undisputed highlight of the visit. Add the magnificent painted cross by Cimabue, symbol of the damage Florence suffered in the 1966 flood and a couple more Mannerist works by Bronzino and you will realize that Santa Croce is a must see. The ticket for the church costs € 6.00; paying € 8.50 instead you also have access to casa Buonarroti, the home of Michelangelo, which is few steps away from the church and displays some early works by the master artist. Opening hours are from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM except for Sundays when the church is open only from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
|Santa Croce Tour|
Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
Located not far from the train station that is named after this Basilica, Santa Maria Novella is filled of incredible works of art representative of both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. As soon as you enter in the church, you will be overwhelmed by two masterpieces: the Holy Trinity fresco by Masaccio in front of you, and a huge painted cross by Giotto on your right. All the Chapels in the transept are decorated with frescoes or altarpieces or statues, starting with a crucifix in wood by Brunelleschi, to continue with a huge fresco by Ghirlandaio and another one by Filippino Lippi. The wonders of this church do not end inside: visiting the cloister and the convent is a must, especially for the Cappellone degli Spagnoli, all frescoed by Andrea di Buonaiuto. On top of this, close to the church is the ancient Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella, famous worldwide for its great products. The church is open from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM from Monday to Thursday, while on Friday it is open from 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM, on Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. The ticket costs € 5.00.
|Request a tour in Santa Maria Novella|
The list could continue, but I don’t want to be boring: you might prefer to use your time for food and wine, for shopping, for attending a football match or an event. We have that and more. Contact me and let me suggest what to do in Florence, I am your contact in Florence!
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