Florence is a city of arts, the cradle of the Renaissance. The city is very conveniently located almost in the middle of the road between the north of Italy and its capital. It will not be difficult to get to Florence from any major city, be it Venice, Milan or Rome. Therefore, many travelers to Italy try to include Florence in their itinerary, preferring to spend only 1 day here.
So what can you see in Florence in 1 day? Despite the fact that the city is very compact and all the central attractions are located within walking distance from each other, it is unlikely to get around them all in 1 day.
Art is found everywhere, but to visit Florence and not look at least at one art museum is a real crime. No wonder that the art collection of this city is considered one of the best in Europe. But even a cursory acquaintance with one of the museums will steal at least 2 hours of precious time.
Morning in Florence
Most travelers stay in the “city of art” by train to Santa Maria Novella Central Station. From here we will begin our walk.
You can encounter art when you have already crossed the threshold of the station building. Just opposite, there is the church of the same name Santa Maria Novella, which is considered the oldest in the city.
Its construction was in the XIV-XV centuries. The era of the Middle Ages can be traced both in the external appearance of the temple and inside. Numerous works of art are stored here, among which the cycle of frescoes from the biography of the Virgin and John the Baptist is of most interest.
From the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, it makes sense to head to the Academy Gallery to look at the authentic sculpture of David by Michelangelo. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to get there: follow Via Sant’Antonino to the intersection with Via Guelfa, where you should turn right and go on to the intersection with Via Ricasoli. On the left side, you will undoubtedly see a long line, which will tell you that the target has been found.
To get around the queue and save several hours of precious time, it makes sense to purchase tickets to the Gallery online.
The Uffizi Gallery, one of the largest painting museums in Western Europe, can become an alternative to the Academy Gallery for those who think that they can see in Florence in 1 day. The original works of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and many other outstanding geniuses from the XIII to the beginning of the XX centuries have been preserved here.
Day in Florence
If you look at the map of the sights of Florence, near the Academy Gallery we will find the Medici Palace. It is located on Via Camillo Cavour. In general, the Medici family at different times owned different palaces, including the famous Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza Signoria and the Palazzo Pitti on the south bank of the Arno River.
The Medici family appreciated art very highly. In their palaces, they managed to collect a rich collection of paintings. For example, the Medici Chapel was preserved unchanged in the Medici Palace, painted in 1461 by frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli, and in the Palazzo Vecchio a magnificent collection of frescoes by Vasari and his students.
You can honor the memory of the great Dukes of Tuscany very nearby. The Medici family chose the chapel at the Basilica of San Lorenzo as the family necropolis, to the decoration of which the great Michelangelo himself had a hand.
By the way, in addition to the Medici chapel and the Basilica proper, the San Lorenzo complex also includes the Laurentian library, where you can see a huge collection of historical literature, including the VIII century Bible. and the first Roman encyclopedia.
From Piazza di San Lorenzo, “at a stone’s throw” to Piazza del Duomo, so named because of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore located on it. The Duomo is the most significant attraction on the map of Florence. The 42-meter Bruneleski dome has long been the main symbol in numerous photographs and postcards.
The Duomo was built over 6 centuries, starting from the end of the XIII century. Its architecture has become a kind of boundary between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. More than half a century was required for the construction of an openwork 85-meter bell tower (Campanile), which became a vivid example of Florentine Gothic. Now the campaign of the cathedral, together with the Bruneleski dome, serve as excellent viewing platforms.
In addition to the cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo, you can see the Baptistery of San Giovanni. The Baptistery is the oldest building in the square. It was erected back in the 5th century and acquired the outer cladding, which can still be seen now, in the 11th-12th centuries. The dome of the baptistery is decorated with exquisite mosaics of the 13th century.
Looking at Florence from a bird’s eye view, you can go further. From Cathedral Square, Via Dei Calzaiuoli leads to another famous square in the city Signoria Square.
The architectural dominant of the square is the Palazzo Vecchio, which we mentioned a little above. Initially, the government of the Florentine Republic (Signoria) met here, and therefore the area at the Palazzo became known as Signoria Square.
Signoria Square is called an open-air museum: here you can admire a collection of sculptures from the Renaissance. Unfortunately, most of the sculptures are now replaced with copies. Originals are stored in the nearby Academy Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery.
From Signoria Square, past the Uffizi Gallery, you can go to the Arno River embankment, or take a little walk along Via dei Gondi and Borgo Dei Greci to the Santa Croce Basilica.
The basilica is considered the largest Franciscan church in the world and serves as a necropolis for outstanding personalities of Florence. Here they found the last peace of Galileo, Rossini, Machiavelli and even the great Michelangelo himself.
Having bowed to the ashes of the great Florentines, return to Signoria Square, from where it is easiest to go down to the banks of the Arno River. The river divides Florence into northern and southern parts.
Evening in Florence
Having been pretty much in 1 day in the bustling center of Florence, it is better to spend the evening in peace and quiet, namely, on the southern bank of the Arno River.
Connect the banks of the river 10 bridges. The most famous is the Ponte Vecchio bridge, erected in the XIV century. near Signoria Square. Since then, his appearance has not changed much. At all times, the bridge served as the center of brisk trade. At first, it was occupied by butchers, now expensive jewelry stores are located here.
Unlike the enlightened center, the southern coast of Arno was occupied for a long time by poor neighborhoods.
In the XV century. the large banker Luca Pitti bought a large plot of land on the right bank and began the construction of a new palazzo, which a century later, the descendants of Pitti sold to the Duchess Eleanor of Toledo the wife of the Tuscan Duke Cosimo I Medici.
Under Medici, the palace was noticeably expanded; Boboli’s elegant gardens were set up around it, which served as a prototype of many European parks.
A leisurely walk through Boboli Park will allow you to relax from the bustle of the city and admire Florence from the height of the hill of the same name.
Well, to meet the sunset it is best to go to Piazzale Michelangelo, from where you can enjoy no less spectacular views than from Boboli Hill. You can get to the square by going about a kilometer along the southern bank of the Arno River.