Must-sees in Florence and Surroundings
Cultural/sights to see
- Loggia degli Uffizi (12 minutes walking distance, 1 km)
- Open Tuesday to Sunday, 8:15 to 18:50
The Uffizi Gallery, a symbol of Florentine culture from the 16th century to the present, takes its name from the Uffizi palace designed by Giorgio Vasari and commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici in 1559. Intended to be the headquarters or major offices of the State Courts, around the mid-1500s Francesco I de' Medici had the idea of bringing together the immense art collections the Medici had amassed to the Uffizi. In the halls, visitors today can see masterpieces by the early Renaissance artists Giotto, Cimabue, Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca and many more. The beautiful figurative works are testimony of the new civilization that was born in Florence in the early 1400s and which earned Florence the name of the “cradle of the Renaissance”.
Today, some of the most popular works here include the “Birth of Venus” and the “Primavera”, both painted by Sandro Botticelli. The first is undoubtedly the most classic work of the master, the Goddess of Beauty, pure and with rapid flickered contours, appearing from the sea driven by the winds. In the “Privamera” or Spring, considered the masterpiece of the artist, Botticelli expresses his aesthetic vision of the Neoplatonic ideal, the perfect expression of beauty shared by the intellectual world of his time in Florence. Venus appears and everything around her is beautiful and in bloom, while Hermes driving away the clouds, the three dancing Graces, symbols of beauty and love, and Zephyr, whose breath spread flowers to Flora all encircle Spring.
Following these rooms are the rooms by Leonardo da Vinci with the scene of the “Annunciation”, Raphael's “Madonna with the Goldfinch”, Caravaggio and more, ending with the Hall of the eighteenth century that hosts a diverse group of works, mainly Italian and French, which then continue in the Vasari Corridor.
- Piazza Pitti (12 minutes walking distance, 1 km)
- Open Tuesday to Sunday, 8:15 to 18:50
The construction of the palace was commissioned by Luca Pitti, a prestigious Florentine banker, who in 1498 gave the project to Brunelleschi and work was started on the hill of Boboli in the Oltrarno.
Today, the building houses the Palatine Gallery, striking in its the luxurious appearance, quite different from that of the Uffizi, and the sumptuous surroundings in luxurious fabrics and rich display of frames.
The museum continues with the Monumental Apartments, inhabited at first by the Medici and Lorraine families and later by the King of Italy, and then by the Gallery of Modern Art, which houses the most famous nineteenth-century paintings by the Macchiaioli, the Italian equivalent of the French impressionists that advocated a suitable anti-academic painting to reproduce the "impression of reality", painting mostly natural scences with "spots" of color and light contrasts. To be admired in this section are works by Silvestro Lega, Telemaco Signorini and Giovanni Fattori with the famous Rotonda Palmieri.
Palazzo Pitti also houses other important museums such as the Museo degli Argenti, the Costume Gallery dating back to the Napoleonic era to the early decades of the twentieth century, the Carriage Museum and the Museum of Porcelains which includes Italian, French and Viennese pieces as well as work by Meissen.
From behind Palazzo Pitti, one can head into the Boboli Gardens, one of the most beautiful Italian gardens existing today with its boulevards, fountains, squares and statues. The garden was requested by Eleanor of Toledo in 1550 and designed by Tribolo Buontalenti.
Gallery of the Academy
- Via Ricasoli, 60 (18 minute walking distance, 1.4 km)
- Open daily except Mondays, from 8:15 to 18:50
- biglietto con prenotazione consigliata, disponibile in reception
The origin of this collection dates back to 1784 when the Grand Duke Peter Leopold of the Lorraines wished to endow a collection of ancient works of art to the Academy of Fine Arts to serve as examples for students. Emblem of the Gallery is the most famous piece of sculpture in the history of Italian art, Michelangelo's David, sculpted between 1501 and 1504. The David portrays the biblical hero ready to face the giant Goliath and was originally located in Piazza della Signoria as a symbol of the Florentine republic itself: vigilant and victorious against all enemies.
- Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 6 (12 minute walking distance, 1 km)
- Open Monday to Sunday, 8:15 to 13:50
Part of the monumental complex of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Medici Chapels are the burial grounds of the majority of the Medici and Lorraine families, whose tombstones are recognizable in the floor. Rare expression of Florentine Baroque, the chapels were worked on for over three centuries by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence with the use of materials of great value as well as cost.
- Piazza del Carmine (8 minute walk, 700 m)
- Open Monday to Saturday, 10:00 to 17:00, on Sunday 13-17.
- Closed on Tuesday
Located inside the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, the Brancacci chapel is one of the highest examples of Renaissance painting, a collaboration of the two greatest artists of the early fifteenth century: Masaccio and Masolino from Panicale. The theme of the frescoes is the story of man's salvation, from the Original Sin to the intervention by Peter as the direct heir of Christ and founder of the Roman Church. Noteworthy of special attention are the scenes: “The Temptation of Adam and Eve” by Masolino and “the Expulsion from Paradise”, considered as Masaccio's greatest masterpiece.
- (18 minute walk, 1.4 km)
- Cathedral: free admission Monday to Friday 10:00 to 17:00; Saturday 10:00 to 16:45; Sunday 13:30 to 16:45
- Dome (463 steps): entry ticket, open from Monday to Friday 8:30 to 19:00 and Saturday 8:30 to 17:40
The construction began on the ancient foundations of the church of Santa Reparata in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio, then was continued by Giotto from 1334 until his death in 1337. In 1412, the new cathedral, a perfect expression of the Gothic style, was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and finally consecrated by Pope Eugene IV on March 25, 1436 when Brunelleschi's dome was completed.
The inside of the Cupola was painted in the mid-sixteenth century by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari with a fresco depicting the “Last Judgement”.
- (12 minutes walking distance, 1 km)
Built in Roman times on wooden piles of stone, up until 1218 this was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence. Butchers and vegetable vendors set up their shops here and at the end of the sixteenth century were replaced by the shops of goldsmiths and jewelers to give greater prestige to the bridge that had become, according to the Grand Duke Ferdinando I, "a place much frequented by gentlemen and visitors".
Pharmaceutical-Profume Workshop of Santa Maria Novella
- Via della Scala, 16 (6 minute walk, 500 m)
- Open everyday from 10.30 to 19.00
The origins of the Officina of Santa Maria Novella go back to 1221 as a result of the work by the Dominican friars who grew herbs in their gardens to prepare medications, balms and ointments for the small infirmary of the monastery. Today, the pharmacy continues to use raw materials of the highest quality following the same traditional methods used by the Dominican monks. Lily extract, essence of gardenia, amber cologne, calendula cream, shampoo with pomegranate, evening tea, lavender salts, melissa water, lemon balm, Medici liqueur, elixir of roses: these are just some of the great variety of products for sale in the entrance hall.
The workshop museum is housed within the same rooms that were used as the laboratories with the aim to share and bring back to life the machines once used for manufacturing all of the products, from glass to ancient ceramics from the pharmacy to bronze objects and copper kettles.
Shopping - markets and outlets
Markets in Florence
Antiques at The Fortezza (18 minutes walking distance, 1.4 km)
- Viale Filippo Strozzi
- Tel. (+39) 055 3283550
- Third weekend of every month from 8.00 to 19.00
In the gardens of the Fortezza da Basso, the antiques trade fair offers furniture, gifts, fine collectibles, books, prints and many other interesting, small antique items.
“Mercato delle Pulci” Flea Market (24 minutes on foot, 2 km
- Piazza dei Ciompi
- Open daily from 9.00 to 19.30
- The last Sunday of the month the market extends to all the streets around the square
Around the loggia designed by Vasari, you'll find lamps, tea sets, cutlery, furniture, prints, books and jewelry, all items of a more or less distant past. Strolling between the stalls, collectors will find it easy to find an antique and tourists might find a unique, original object to take back as a memory from their time in Florence.
San Lorenzo Market (12 minutes on foot, 1 km)
- Closed Sundays and Mondays
All around the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the market consists of stalls of clothes, leather goods, and typical souvenirs for tourists who want to buy a memento of their visit to Florence.
Mercato del Porcellino (12 minutes on foot, 1 km)
- Piazza del Mercato Nuovo
- Closed Sunday and Monday morning
Here visitors will find articles in Florentine straw, hand embroidery, flowers, gifts in leather or wood – all perfect souvenirs to take back home.
- Località Levane, Montevarchi
- Tel. (+39) 055 91931
- Open Monday to Saturday, 9:30 to 19:00, Sunday 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Take the highway “A1 Florence-Rome” and exit at “Valdarno”. Head toward Montevarchi and as you leave the town behind, turn left and maintain the left.
THE MALL - Outlets for Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Ferragamo, Loro Piana, Tod'S, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent and more
- Via Europa 8, Leccio, Reggello
- Open Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 19:00, Sunday 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Take the highway A1 Florence-Rome and exit at “Incisa”, turn right following signs to “Florence-Pontassieve”. Continue for about 5 Km until you reach the turnaround with signs to the parking lot for The Mall.
The Principe Hotel can arrange shuttle service on request (round trip) with departures at 8.00 or 11.30 and return trip at 15.00 or 18:15.