- Galleria dell’Academia
- Piazza della Signoria
- Piazzale Michelangelo
- Ponte Vecchio
- Palazzo Pitti (Palatine Gallery)
Upon our arrival to Florence, our tour director took us to the Galleria dell’Academia, where we met our local guide. Founded in 1563, the Academia was the first school of drawing, painting, and sculpture in Europe. Today, it houses several Renaissance pieces by Florentine artists, including Michelangelo’s David and Boticelli’s Madonna del Mare. After hearing and reading about these famous works, it was a breathtaking experience to walk and gaze up at the magnificent works of art made by the local Florentine artists.
Afterwards, we were taken to the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore)—the iconic cathedral of the city—and briefed on the history of the cathedral but we did not go inside. Then we were allowed to spend the rest of the time on our own.
We explored the streets of Florence and visited the Piazza della Signoria, where the David was originally placed before being moved to the Academia for safekeeping. It now exhibits sculptures of Roman emperors. For dinner, we tried the famous Florentine steak at Ristorante Boccadama in located in the Piazza di Santa Croce. It was seasoned perfectly!
The following day we were able to explore the city on our own. We walked from our hotel, past the old city wall, to the steps leading up to the Pizzale Michelangelo. We beheld a gorgeous panorama view of the entire city of Florence.
After admiring the view, we walked towards the Ponte Vecchio and ate a gelato at the local gelato shop before heading towards the main square.
We crossed the Ponte Vecchio and headed to the Palazzo Pitti located in the Oltrarno district. Historically, the banker Luca Pitti built this palazzo to compete with the Medici family but eventually went bankrupt due to the building costs. Thus, the Medici family bought the palazzo and all rulers of the city lived in this place.
Today, the Palazzo Pitti houses “masterpieces by Botticelli, Titian, Perugino, Andrea del Sarto, Tintoretto, Veronese, Giorgione, and Gentileschi” (Machiavelli, F., et al.). It also has the Royal Apartments and the Silverware Museum. This museum holds a sizeable collection from the Medici family. It undoubtedly highlights the wealth and power of the family during the Renaissance era.
After our visit to the Palazzo Pitti, we went to the Piazza del Duomo. We had planned to visit both the top of the Duomo, the baptistery, and the museum; however, the baptistery and museum were under remodeling when we visited (it is currently reopened as of writing in 2016). The museum houses the bronze baptistery door panels designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti. We did, though, go up to the Brunelleschi dome in the cathedral and close to the beautiful frescoes of The Last Judgment by Vasari and Zuccari.
The panoramic view at the top of the dome was simply outstanding.
Then we had a quick pasta lunch at one of the restaurants near the Duomo and rested briefly in the cathedral before our next stop – Uffizi. Called “Italy’s greatest art gallery,” the Uffizi’s many rooms show a progression of art from the Gothic period to the High Renaissance and Mannerism period throughout Europe (Holland, Spain, and Germany).
At the end of the busy day, we went to Osteria Vini Vecchi Sapori located near the Uffizi to try the local dish, osso buco. The food was a little salty but it was seasoned adequately.
We missed some of the other attractions due to having only two days in Florence, such as the Museo Galileo or the Santa Croce church. Also, the renovation of the Duomo’s baptistery prevented us from seeing the famous bronze panels. These sights warrant a revisit one day.
Machiavelli, F., Martin, S., Townsend, H., & Tyrrell, N. (Eds.). (2014). Italy. New York, NY: DK Eyewitness Travel.