Florence is a magical city filled to the brim with some of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see. I’ve created a list of my favorite places I visited, and I’d love to hear if you have any more that should be added to the list!
Once called home by the Medici family, the Pitti Palace is now home to a slew of mini-museums, including various galleries, porcelain displays, and the Medici Treasury. The palace itself is beautiful with its grand staircases and large inner courtyard. While the museums are definitely worth a visit, the palace has made it to my “most beautiful” list because the Boboli Gardens are located behind it.
You guys know how much I love a realaxing stroll through the park (shout out to Villa Borghese for setting the bar high), so I couldn’t resist checking out the Boboli Gardens. The gardens slope upwards, offering a gorgeous view of both the palace and of Florence from the top. They spread out in either direction and have side gardens galore, my favorite of which had a line of trees hanging over each side of the path that led to another mini-garden set in an island in a pond. You have to buy a museum ticket to enter the gardens, but it’s an absolute must visit spot.
Speaking of scenic overlooks, Piazza Michelangelo is the perfect place to see Florence in its entirety. It’s a bit of a walk to the Piazza, but it’s worth the effort. It’s sure to be filled with visitors, so you’ll have to be patient when trying to get to the railing.
Chisea di San Minato al Monte
This monastery is just down the road from Piazza Michelangelo. While it might not look too exciting on the outside, the exposed stone walls and remaining murals that decorate the inside are why it’s one of my favorite churches I’ve visited in Italy. The decor is deceivingly simply, but I think that’s why it’s so innately beautiful. Behind the church is a large cemetery with gorgeous family mausoleums and tombstones dating back hundreds of years. The entire monastery and its grounds are the perfect place for some peaceful reflection away from the hoards of tourists because not many people take the time to walk down the road from Piazza Michelangelo.
Basilica di San Lorenzo
The morning that I visited the Basilica di San Lorenzo I actually didn’t have enough time to go inside the church itself, only into the Laurenziana Library. The library, part of the church, was planned by Michelangelo, and the reading desks in the room are the originals made by him. Although small, it’s a lovely architectural piece and a must see if you’re a bookwork like I am (for some reason I just love seeing old manuscripts).
Since I only had time to see the inner courtyard of the church, I can’t actually speak to what’s inside, but I’ve looked at photos online and think that San Lorenzo is certainly a basilica worth visiting. Inside are works by Donatello (his last, to be precise), Michelangelo, and Bronzino, and it’s also the burial grounds for the Medici family.
No one can escape a trip to Florence’s Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore. It’s the first stop for many visitors, and for good reason. The outside of the cathedral is covered in gorgeous tile work that’s startlingly intricate for the time it was built. I was somewhat surprised that this type of detailing wasn’t carried into the inside of the cathedral, as it seems plain compared to the outer walls.
During my tour of the Duomo, my guide said that historians have argued over whether or not the walls were painted white during the Reformation in order to cover up the preexisting frescoes. I’m quite sad none of these frescoes remain, because I’m sure they would have made a lovely pairing with the breath taking artwork that decorates the dome’s ceiling. If the beauty of the cathedral alone isn’t enough to draw you here, then the stunning views from both the bell tower and the top of the dome should provide proper enticement.
This famous bridge is one of the many ways you can cross the river to sights such as Piazza Michelangelo and Palazzo Pitti. Lining either side are tiny shops, most of which display fine jewelry, and the hustle and bustle over the bridge is a great way to feel like you’re immersed in something special. Like most of the places on this list, you get a lovely view of the river and both sides of the city from the center of the bridge. Once you cross it, you’re bombarded with gelato shops, which are always a nice surprise to have waiting for you.
As I discussed in my last post, Florence is home to a plethora of art museums, the two best known being the Uffizi and the Academia Galleries. Whether you’re a lover of modern art, Renaissance pieces, or something in between, Florence is sure to have a gallery for you. As one of the major art capitals of the world, you absolutely must visit a gallery during your stay here. The art in any of these places speaks for itself as to why it’s on my list of beautiful places to visit. If you’ve visited another gallery in Florence other than the two big ones mentioned previously, let me know your thoughts on them!
My stay in Florence was amazing, and it was a great follow-up to my time in Rome. Which place on this list would you most like to visit?