OVERVIEW OF FLORENCE: I’ve got to admit that Florence was not my favorite place in Italy. Maybe if I had gone here first, instead of last, I would have liked it better. But in Europe, I prefer small towns and villages to cities. I think sometimes a city can lose it’s charm. Still, Florence is very nice and I’m glad to have experienced it. There is tons to do including restaurants, shopping, and many beautiful churches and museums. There are some very nice parks and gardens if you need to get away from the crowds.
ACCADEMIA GALLERY: This beautiful museum is filled with amazing pieces of art but there is no mistake who we all flock here to see…Michelangelo’s David. Whether you’re an art buff or not, you will stand in front of David with your jaw dropped open and feel lucky to be there. You can easily spend half a day here exploring the museum. There are guides available, but with a good guide book you can tour the museum yourself. As with any popular museum, be prepared to wait in a long line. You may want to bring something for the kids to entertain themselves.
- Open Tuesday- Sunday 8:00-7:00, Closed on Mondays.
- Tickets are 8€ and are available online.
DUOMO: The Duomo is a must-see building in Florence. Even if you choose not to step foot inside, the outside is one of the most beautifully decorated buildings and is a work of art itself. You can climb to the top of the tower, and although some say it is claustrophobic and crowded, the view is said to be beautiful. We had too many places to see in Florence that day so we went into the Duomo but skipped the climb up. Be aware that in Italy, like many countries in Europe, they expect you to dress appropriately when entering their churches. I always carried a light sweater in my bag to put on when I was wearing a sleeveless shirt.
- Open Monday- Friday 8:30-6:00, Saturdays 8:30-5:00. Sundays 1:00-4:00.
- Check times on the website before going because it closes at random times due to events.
BOBOLI GARDENS: When we were on a train to Cinque Terre we met a girl studying in Rome. Her father was visiting her and she was showing him different places in Italy. We started sharing travel stories and she told us about Boboli Gardens and said we must see it when in Florence. It wasn’t on my agenda but I’m so glad we managed to fit it in. The gardens are so calm and peaceful and offer the best views of Florence. There are sculptures, ponds, fountains, and lots of space for kids to run around.
- Open June- August 8:00-7:30, November – February 8:00-4:30. Check the website for other months.
- Tickets cost 10 €
PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORA: This piazza is unlike any other square we saw in Florence. The size alone sets it apart from the others. It is very busy, filled with street performers and tourists. There are so many sculptures that you feel like you’re at an open-air museum. The sculpture most people come for is Neptune’s Fountain. The details in this fountain will make you keep walking around it to see it at every angle. There is also a replica of the statue of David and it’s funny to see people taking selfies with it thinking it’s the actual statue! This piazza is filled with restaurants, shops, and great gelato. It is beautiful both during the day and at night.
PONTE VECCHIO: This bridge is a wonderful place to shop! The streets are lined with shops filled with jewelry, pottery, and leather. It is very crowded and filled with tourists. The best views are looking at the bridge itself. It is especially beautiful at sunset.
BASILICA DI SANTA CROCE: This was one of my favorite churches in Florence. The outside of the church is so beautiful but once you step inside you will see it’s true beauty. The stain glass windows span the walls, and there are frescos, sculptures, and chapels to enjoy. An interesting part of the trip are the tombs. You can visit the tombs of Machiavelli, Galileo, Michelangelo, and Dante (although Dante is not actually buried there).
- Open Monday- Saturday 9:30-5:30, Sunday & holidays 2:00-5:30.
- Tickets: Adults 6 €, Kids 11-17 3 €, Kids under 11 are free.
- They have family tickets that are less expensive.
- There are headsets for rent for 1.50 € and they offer lots of great information.