Turns out there is more to Florence than David’s bod.
My appreciation for art history and its impact on society was born in Florence. The city inspired an extraordinary number of thought leaders; artists, scientists, philosophers, explorers and musicians, especially at the start of the Renaissance.
Visiting the Must See Duomo & Santa Maria del Fiore
I had assumed Duomo was an Italian word for Dome, but I learned “Duomo” is the name all Italian cities give to their primary church.
When you buy tickets for the Santa Maria del Fiore (aka the Duomo) you should absolutely buy the complete pass. There are five parts to the Cathedral’s complex:
- The Cathedral itself (free, but least interesting of the five, in my opinion.).
- The Bell Tower (8 euros to just climb this tower) This was our favorite view point of the city.
- The Baptistry – The ceiling mosaics are incredible. Have a seat and follow the story of Jesus Christ simply by following the “film strip” like images.
- Brunelleschi’s dome – Make sure to book a time slot at least 24 hours in advance to clime the Dome. It WILL sell out. I found it fascinating that the Cathedral itself was started about 150 years before Brunelleschi came along with a design for the dome. At the time, they didn’t have the technology or architectural knowledge to pull of such a feat, but knew that sooner or later, someone would come along and complete it.
- The Duomo Museum – For everything, it costs 15 euros and it’s well worth that price and more.
Statue of David – Galleria dell’Accademia
David did not disappoint. I had no idea how big it was. The statue, that is. David stood over 14′ tall and is absolutely flawless. Michelangelo’s unfinished works are also on display. They are quite appropriate named the ‘prisoners’ as they appear to be struggling to escape from the block of marble.
We booked these tickets a month in advance along with a scheduled time slot for arrival. Do the same to avoid the line and potentially miss the cutoff since there are a limited number of guests each day.
This is a one of a kind art museum. It has the largest collection of Renaissance Art in the world, which is fitting as Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance. While the 2 hours in line for tickets felt like forever, the hours inside passed quickly while we admired works by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Raphael, Donatello, Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci. According to UNESCO, 1/3 of the world’s most valuable pieces of art are in Florence.
Uffizi is Italian for “Offices” as it was previously a building used for business by the prominent Medici family.
This gallery is not a place for young kids, I suggest visiting on alternate days with your partner so you can experience it fully.
Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Vecchio
The Ponte (bridge in Italian) Vecchio was first built in 996. It had to be reconstructed in a few times since then due to floods. It has a 2nd floor for the wealthy Medici family to cross between their Palace and Offices. Today, it is filled with expensive store fronts and tourists. We heard from multiple tour guides that during World War II, Hitler ruled that all bridges leading to Florence be destroyed, but because the general appreciated the beauty of the Ponte Vecchio, he spared just that one.
A great place for the kids to burn off energy at the end of the day!
We loved spending sunset with a bottle of wine on the other side of the river, at the Piazzale Michelangelo. Enjoy the street musicians while the sun goes down leaving beautiful colors over the historic city. A replica of David stands in this square as well.
Italy or Eataly?
Take a Cooking Class
We took a cooking class in Manuela’s home kitchen which I highly recommend. We made a four course meal complete with prosecco, red wine, and an after dinner liqueur.
Manuela is a mother herself, so book a private class and bring the kids! She’ll know how to engage them while you all learn something new that you’ll bring back to your own kitchen without a doubt.
Stand in Line for a Sandwich
Our favorite stop for lunch was at All’ Antico Vinaio. Arrive before 11:30am to avoid obscene lines. Because of its popularity, the sandwich shop opened an identical storefront across the street. Go ahead and pick the one with the shorter line. For 5 euro you’ll get a massive sandwich full of rich, fresh, and local ingredients. Our favorite, of the 4 we tried, was “The Boss.”