It is not easy to give you the right answer as we are talking about one of the Italian cities with the highest concentration of art treasures! Although Florence is a small city (you can easily explore it on foot), every corner of the city hides a museum, a church, a Renaissance palace that is worth to be seen. Therefore, it all depends on you! Do you go nuts for museums? Are you the kind of tourist that wants to see the main monuments only of a city and have plenty of time to go shopping? Are you ok with visiting the highlights of a city or do you love exploring places out of the beaten tracks? Above all, how are you going to visit the city? On your own, following your Lonely Planet guide suggestions? Or accompanied by a licensed tour guide of Florence? I recommend you to spend at least three days in Florence, necessary not only to discover its beauty, but to ‘savor’ the enchanting atmosphere of this timeless city! Obviously I recommend you to choose a licensed tour guide to help you! With a tour guide at your side you will discover hidden corners of the city, as well as stories and anecdotes, that you would never find out on your own! You will be surprised to see that having a tour guide, you will also save time, time that you can use to see more of Florence! In addition, the cost for a guided tour of Florence is not as expensive as you might think!
An introductory guided tour of Florence will help you to navigate the history of the city and its streets: Duomo Square with Saint John Baptistery, the Belltower and the massive Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore to start with. You will then discover the charming medieval disctrict of Florence, where you will grasp the atmosphere of the Middle Ages thanks to its ancient tower-houses and little churches. Signoria Square is a true open air museum with its many statues and its awe inspiring Palazzo Vecchio, city hall of Florence. Obviously you will not miss Ponte Vecchio (literally ‘Old Bridge’), one of the oldest bridges in the world, and the amazing church of Santa Maria Novella, one of the most important churches of Florence. This is just a small introduction to Florence, but how could you skip the Uffizi Museum (the most important painting gallery in Italy) while in Florence? It would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Louvre!!! To visit the Uffizi you will need at least 3 hours, just to orient yourselves through all that immense beauty! Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Raffaello, Tiziano, Botticelli, Caravaggio…..You will get dizzy, but it is absolutely worthy! My private guided tour of the Uffizi will help you to maximise your time and find without fail the masterpieces not to be missed.
Don’t be misled by people saying “I have seen the copy of David outside in Signoria Square, it will be more or less the same…”, that’s completely wrong! The original statue of David has a shocking strenght and beauty, an elegance and an anatomical accuracy that will leave you speachless! My guided tour of the Accademy Gallery will also include the famous ‘Prisoners’ by Michelangelo, statues that he didn’t finish, absolutely wonderful in their expressive power! Another museum that I feel like recommending you is the Bargello Museum. The Bargello Palace, a typically medieval building, is amazing in itself and houses a unique collection of statues: Michelangelo, Donatello (the first great modern sculptor) and Verrocchio (Leonardo’s master) are the three big names in this museum. If you are fascinated by painting more than by sculpture, I suggest you to visit the Galleria Palatina, located inside Pitti Palace (last residence of the Medici family). Once again, a private guided tour of Pitti Palace will give you a special insight of this amazing painting gallery where you will admire works by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens,Filippo Lippi and many more artists. The numerous paintings are not displayed in chronological order ( which may confuse the visitor!) and they form a real feast for the eyes. That is why I recommend you to do a guided tour of the Pitti Palace, this way you won’t feel ‘lost’ in all that beauty and you will discover how court life was at the time of the Medicis! During your second day of your holifays in Florence don’t miss to pop up in the morning at the Central Market or at the Sant’Ambrogio Market. They are both market places where you will find typical products of excellent quality, from wine to saffron, from Pecorino cheese to truffles. While there, you should taste some local food specialties, such as the Pappa al Pomodoro (bread and tomates soup), Lampredotto (boiled cow stomach) or Schiacciata with Finocchiona (salami with fennel seeds)! I regularly do gourmet tours of Florence and my guests are always very enthousiastic with them as they can taste the real local food of Florence and learn about our traditional recipes and lifestyle.
It is time to go to Michelangelo’s Square (Piazzale Michelangelo), panoramic point of Florence. A plesant walk of about 20 minutes will take you to one of the most beloved places by the Florentines…It would be a real shame not going there! You will see the whole city and will take beautiful pictures! It is considered as the most romantic place in Florence and you will have the chance to sit in a café and admire the view in front of a cool Spritz! Five minutes far from Michelangelo’s Square there is another jewel that you don’t have to miss: the Church of San Miniato. Go inside and breath the mystical atmosphere of this timeless place! In addition, from the front of the church you will have a breathtaking view of Florence! Talking about churches…I highly recommend you to visit the Church of Santa Croce where well-known Italians are buried: Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galilei are just three of the famous Italian people resting in peace in this amazing church! Let’s indulge now in some shopping! You will find leather shops everywhere in Florence, but also Florentine paper, beauty products from Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy and handicrafts objects from the Oltrarno district are excellent gifts to bring back home! My guided tour of the Florentine artisans workshops inlcudes the best handicraftmen’s workshops in the city and it is focused on the Southern district of Florence. The Oltrarno is the southern part of Florence, just cross the Ponte Vecchio or the Santa Trinita Bridge and there you are! Since the Middle Ages it has always been the craftsmen’s district and there are still several ancient workshops where they create fantastic golden or silver jewels, mosaics with precious stones, prints, wooden objects and much more! Ask any Florentine about the Oltrarno: they will tell you that it is the real soul of Florence, with its old workshops, vintage shops, characteristic bars and excellent quality ‘trattorias’ where you can taste the traditional Florentine Beef Steak!
The three days in Florence have come to an end! You have seen much, but there is much more to discover! These were just a few ideas to help you to discover our city. If you have more specific interests have a look at my ‘Off the beaten tracks’ tours and choose the right guided tour for you! If you have less than three days at your disposal to visit Florence, no problem! I will help you to see the best of my city with my One Day Tour of Florence. Contact me for any information!