Santa Maria del Fiore

Florence, Italy, Travel Advice: The Must-Sees and the Overlooked

You can’t go to Florence and not see the Duomo, but how and why should you see and do what?

Here are my recommendations for things to see and places to be in Florence, Italy, looking at the must-sees and the overlooked in the middle of it (beyond the street art I posted before):

Il Duomo – The Dome

Really, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Holy Mary of the Flower(s).

Santa Maria del Fiore
Santa Maria del Fiore from Piazzale Michelangiolo (see below)

It’s only too easy to learn only too much about Il Duomo, but definitely do make sure you have at least some idea of the backstory on the cupola’s construction.

If you want to delve even deeper into Florence history, read up on the intrigue that surrounded the Medici family and the duomo – the Pazzi Conspiracy. (Or challenge yourself to teasing apart fact-based and fanciful while watching Da Vinci’s Demons ;) )

Two special recommendations I’d make:

One, visit the Piazza del Duomo in the early morning.

With hardly any people around, city life starting with deliveries and road cleaning, cars still passing by, and then the first rays of sun coming through, it’s an interesting time to be there, maybe take some photos – and then compare with later in the day…


(My LG 360 Cam isn’t the best when it comes to low/complicated lighting situations, but at least it does give an impression…

Secondly, be on the lookout for the small details and the connections they draw.

Try to find the Pietra Romana, the Roman Stone, in the façade of the dome, for example.

On the other side of the same part of the square, have a look at the high water mark I also point out in the video of my recommendations (see at the end of this post), then walk down to the Arno and imagine all that area under water…

By now, tickets for all the sights in and around the dome need to be pre-bought online, so remember to do that well in advance.

There is also a museum of the works at the dome opposite its “backside” (towards the east), with an attached gallery with interesting small shows of contemporary art (with free entry; the museum entry is at cost).

Dome Works Museum Firenze (Gallery)
Dome Works Museum Firenze (Gallery). While I was there, they had a show of contemporary Chinese artists. Very fitting (for me) ;)

Turn into… not sure which street, I think it is Via dello Studio (which would fit)… towards the south, also towards the end of the dome, and you can catch a glimpse into the present workshop for repairs on the dome.

Dome Workshop
Dome Workshop; hope it’s clear enough that this is a composed image, not a single shot

Palazzo della Signoria

More likely than not, you’ll walk past here anyways, check out the (yet another) “David” statue…

Palazzo della Signoria's David(s)
Palazzo della Signoria’s David(s) :-p

And whether or not you go into the museum, you should go in and through the courtyards (which are freely accessible for most of the day).

Especially if you have any sort of connection to Austria, check out the cityscape paintings in the first courtyard…

Vienna Image in Palazzo della Signoria, Florence
… which show city views from (former) Austria, such as Vienna, in this case here

Uffizi

Unless you want to be called absolutely ignorant of all that matters in art, no visit to Florence would be complete without a stroll through the Uffizi Galleries.

One of the first modern museums (after the usual existence as an art collection of the rich and mighty – the Medici, of course, in this case), the Uffizi are also one of the biggest and best-known museums.

Unsurprisingly, given that this is Florence, it is particularly important for the Renaissance art it houses, e.g. Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation or Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, to name just two personal favorites.

Piazzale Michelangiolo

Another “David” greets you up here, up one of the Florentine hills and towards what feels like the outskirts of the city (though it hardly is).

Going up in time for the sunrise is not bad for the light and leaves you with a nice view and relatively fewer people with whom to jostle for the best spot…

Florence Cityscape in Early Morning Light

…the view at sunset, where you look out over the Firenze cityscape with the Dome dominating it and the sun painting the Ponte Vecchio in the most beautiful hue (if you have nice weather :-p ), is well-known and rather too well visited, but still worth it.

Of course, you should also go and get a view of Ponte Vecchio…

Ponte Vecchio in Morning Light
Ponte Vecchio in Morning Light

These are all places where you’ll just take the same pictures as everyone else. Others have seen these views long before you and still others will continue to take these same pictures long after you.

Useless, then?

Kinda, but why would you hold your own experience in such low regard that, if you do go to Florence, you don’t see these must-sees for yourself?

I would advise also going for different experiences, and partly for different purposes from the usual – but do so also, not only.

Mainly, because it’s me, I’d advise some experiences around food, but also some about small sights that might often go unnoticed even though (or because) they would be in plain sight.

I’ve already mentioned some, but let me also show you:

And, there’s a bit more advice (on the places mentioned in the video, and some others again) to come…

And what's your take?