Sightseeing What to See in Florence Historic Centre



Florence is the proverbial chocolate cake in the way of `all good things come in small packages`. The city is jammed with monuments and sights, most of them mercifully confined to a small area. There are so many of them that, unless you stay for a few weeks, you are unlikely to digest more than a modest portion. A lot of people zip around the classics more out of a sense of obligation than because they have a profound interest in Florentine art. Before you do anything, take the time to study what there is to see and make some choices. Not everyone is an art buff. Perhaps you`d be better off concentrating on the grand churches. You like views from on high? Then give priority to the Campanile, the Palazzo Vecchio and the dome of the Duomo (Cathedral). If you are curious about ancient artefacts but not too crazy on painting, dare to be different, skip the Uffizi and head for the Museo Archeologico! This chapter and the review chapters are divided into quarters, loosely based on the city`s traditional parishes.
Itineraries - You could cobble together an endless variety of itineraries. If you have the time, just wander around the city to get a feel for it. It is compact so you can easily dedicate a day to a stroll and take note of sights you`d like to come back and visit another day - unless of course you`re only in town for a day!
One Day - On a flying one-day visit? You`ll have to make some tough choices. You will want to get a look at the Duomo (p65) but could probably skip visiting inside. You should visit the Baptistery though, and a climb to the top of either the Duomo`s dome or the Campanile is in order. After that, go for a wander down through the old city to Piazza della Signoria and on to the Ponte Vecchio - which you might then cross for some lunch in the Oltramo area. Depending on your stamina and the time you`ve got left you could, before heading across the bridge, squeeze in one of the midrange museums: it`s a toss-up between the Galleria dell`Accademia (p94), the Museo Nazionale del Bargello or the Museo dell`Opera del Duomo . The hard-core sightseers will then recross the bridge in the afternoon to tackle the Uffizi . That should just about do you in, so from there you might like to just take a stroll - for instance to Piazza Santa Croce , to catch the evening sunlight bathing the basilica of the same name. You could do a little leather shopping while in the area and head to one of the many tempting local eateries. See also the Duomo to Piazza della Signoria walk, which could serve as a good day route.

Three Days - Three days gives you at least a vague chance to get your head around the city. If you are enthusiastic about art and architecture, you should take in the sights mentioned above, and more. Consider visiting the Palazzo Pitti , and Basilica di Santa Maria Novella , Basilica di San Lorenzo and Basilica di Santa Croce . Some stars worth seeking out include the Cappella Brancacci in the Basilica di Santa Maria del Carmine and Gozzoli`s frescoes in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi . The Palazzo Vecchio is a strong attraction if you want to explore the city`s history. Relax a little too. In summer you might want to cool off in one of the publicpools . Shoppers should head for Via de` Tornabuoni and drool (or head out of town for a day in the discount outlets ). Limitations on the pocket? It`s always fun to slouch about the tat and leather markets, such as Mercato Nuovo and the stands around San Lorenzo . Head for the Oltrarno for some soothing views of the city. You can choose between the crowded Piazzale Michelangelo , the Forte di Belvedere or Bellosguardo
One Week - OK, now we`re talking. Although you could spend a month in Florence and still not feel you know it well, one week will definitely allow you to get to grips with the salient points, allowing you to mix the worthy with a little diversion. Basically take all of the above and add in your own extras. You should consider a couple of excursions out of town. Highly recommended is a day dedicated to Siena and one to Pisa , which you might be able to combine with your flights in or out of the area, as well as Lucca and the Chianti - the latter is best done with your own transport. Back in Florence, you might like to search out a few of the lesser-known sights. The Museo Archeologico has extensive exhibits from the ancient world and the Museo di Storia della Scienza has all sorts of odds and ends. Art buffs looking for the unusual could search out some of the cenacoli, the Last Supper scenes painted in monastery refectories; see The Last Supper Trail . Don`t forget to take some time just to hang out in cafes on Piazza della Repubbiica or in bars around Piazza Santo Spirito .

 

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