Florence is renowned as one of the most cultural and historical cities in the world and is packed full of amazing architecture and places of significance you’d definitely want to capture on camera. As the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy, Florence has a population of 383,000 and a wider metropolitan population of 1.5 million. This wonderful city lies in the central region of Italy and has a well-developed rail network with connections to Pisa, and Bologna.
During ancient history, Florence was once a Roman city and then developed into a thriving medieval commune. It is hailed as the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, and throughout the 12th, 15th and 16th centuries, was one of the most important cities of the world. Notable residents of Florence included Machiavelli, Lorenzo Medici, Dante, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo and Raphael.
Not only tourism
Today, tourism is undoubtedly a major part of the economy of Florence and an average of 13 million people visit the city each year. Aside from tourism, Florence has a major industrial sector and is a producer of such goods as furniture, rubber, chemicals and food. Industrial districts such as Prato-Pistoria have historically exported high-quality goods such as Vespa scooters. If you are looking for a dose of culture and want to see fantastic buildings such as the Duomo, Florence will not disappoint.
It’s true what many people say that Florence has a mystical, transportive quality that can seemingly ship you to other eras altogether, be they the prehistoric days of the Etruscans, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or (if you catch a modern art exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi) the near future. To pick your period, you just have to go to the right attractions. With its varied selection of museums, galleries, boutiques, and storied sites, everyone’s favorite city has something for everyone, from contemporary art buffs and super foodies to sports fans and serious shoppers. To experience the city to its fullest, you only need to step out into the street. These are some of the very best spots in Florence.
Whilst the Duomo is the most important religious building, the Palazzo Vecchio is the most importance administrative building in Florence. This structure stood as the palace of the Signoria of the Republic of Florence and was also a town hall in later years. Originally built in 1299, the Palazzo was designed by the same architects that worked on the Duomo and the church of Santa Croce. With a square design and a number of crenulations, the building almost looks like a castle; it also has a large bell tower. On the front facade, a series of coast of arms can be seen that represent various families and important individuals relating to the history of the city. The interior of the palace is also sublime with a series of originally decorated rooms such as The Hercules Room and The Room of Cybele.
Possibly the most celebrated cathedral in the world, the Duomo as it is simply known in Florence is the jewel of the city. It was initially constructed in 1436, but the astonishing front facade wasn’t completed until the 19th century. Located in the center of the old city, the Duomo stands out for miles and creates an imposing sight amongst the other medieval buildings. The exterior and front facade of the Cathedral are monumental – covered in white marble and red, pink and green polychrome designs; the color and style are both breathtaking. Furthermore, an immense dome sits at the rear of the cathedral and can be accessed via a series of steps.
Although the interior of the cathedral is quite bare in contrast, it still speaks of grandeur and has several interesting pieces such as the large clock face and the magnificent Last Judgement fresco that covers the underside of the dome.
Piazza della Signoria
The square is located to the south of the Piazza del Duomo and is easily accessible due to its central location. The main structure of the Piazza is the magnificent Pallazo Vecchio with its huge clock tower and fantastic statues of David and Hercules. To the left of the palace is the wonderful fountain of Neptune, and to the right is the Loggia dei Lanzi which contains some beautiful Renaissance sculptures including Perseus, Menelaus and Hercules. Finally, a grand statue of Cosimo Medici stands near the fountain of Neptune, and a host of high-end shops line the buildings.
Many people believe that Giotto’s Campanile is connected to the Duomo however it is a separate building in its own right. This structure is a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture and is one of the most renowned designs in the city. Split into five distinct levels, the exterior of the tower features polychrome marble decoration that is also present on the Duomo in brilliant green and pink colors. Constructed in 1334 through to 1359, the building was designed by the famous artist Giotto, but finished by Talenti who added the last levels after Giotto died 1343. A plethora of sculptures, artwork and decorated panels cover the tower and it is a true masterpiece of Renaissance art. Aside from the decoration, you can also climb the 414 steps in the tower for fantastic views of Florence and the Duomo.
Connected to the Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens are immense and beautiful. Covering an area of 45,000 square meters, the gardens are some of the largest in Florence and are a true delight to walk through. Created in the 16th century, the Boboli Gardens feature a myriad of different sections including a main lawn with a fountain and obelisk, a selection of worldly trees, plants and flowers, and several large ponds complete with water features. If you want to escape the city, you can find solace in this wonderful place and enjoy the beautiful designs and natural specimens.
Florence is full of famous buildings and the Ponte Vecchio is an extremely famous and old bridge. Spanning the river Arno, the Vecchio Bridge is noted for the number of shops that are built into the sides of the bridge, its decorated history and the plethora of shops that line the main walkway. History records date the bridge as early as 996 but its true origin is unclear. Walk onto this fantastic structure and look at the various shops and vendors – You will find jewelers, art dealers and souvenir shops. Once at the midpoint, the bridge opens up and you are rewarded with fantastic views down the river Arno. Aside from walking on the bridge itself also walk along the Corridoio Vasariano to see the exterior of the Ponte Vecchio and its marvelous house-like attachments.
Basilica of Santa Croce
Whilst the Cathedral of Florence boasts immense size, the Basilica of Santa Croce is truly beautiful and inviting. Constructed at a similar time to the Duomo, it also features a front facade that includes pink, green and red marble polychrome panels contrasted with polished white stone. Sitting in the Piazza di Santa Croce, the Basilica takes center position and frames the square perfectly. Aside from the beautiful exterior, the interior is home to the tombs of some of the most influential Renaissance artists and scholars in the world including Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.
Baptistery of St. John
Completing the trio of buildings associated with the Cathedral of Florence, the Baptistery sits in front of the main facade of the Duomo and is a completely separate building. As one of the oldest buildings in the city, the Baptistery has been revered and its exterior features the wonderful “Florentine” design that is similar to both the Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile. The three sets of bronze doors are of particular interest and depict various religious scenes and human virtues. Inside the Baptistery, a stunning golden Byzantine style fresco covers the ceiling and upper walls and depicts the last judgement and other stories from the Bible and Genesis.
Uffizi Palace and Gallery
Located just off of the Piazza della Signoria, the Uffizi Palace and Gallery is a renowned art museum and is considered one of the most important Italian museums in the world. The building itself is a marvel and the inner courtyard features a series of intricate columns and arches that are adorned with marble statues. Inside the museum there is an immense collection of Renaissance Art from artists such as Botticelli, Da Vinci, Titian and Raphael. It is one of the most wondrous collection of Renaissance art in the world and many of the pieces are simply fantastic such as The Baptism of Christ by Da Vinci, the Adoration of the Magi by Botticelli and the Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio. For loves of art and history, the Uffizi Palace will surely provide hours of engagement.
Basilica di San Lorenzo
Sitting in close proximity to the Duomo, the Basilica di San Lorenzo was constructed under the designs of the powerful Medici family that ruled Florence for many years during the Renaissance. Although not as grand and ornamental as the Duomo, this church is still an impressive building with its huge dome and characteristic terracotta tiled roof. Inside the church is a plethora of beautiful artwork and decoration including a gold and white gilded ceiling and a superbly decorated dome interior. Many frescos and sculptures frame the dome and create an interesting mix of patterns and colors. Furthermore, a great deal of the Medici family are buried here and their tombs inside the chapel are quite exquisite.