After a day or two inside Florence’s art galleries it’s time to get outdoors and appreciate the city as its own work of art. Here is a daylong itinerary featuring the most stunning views of Florence, including some curious ones not necessarily seen from the heights.
Florence from the top
Let’s start the day with the highest view right from the city’s center, the Brunelleschi Dome at the Cathedral. Getting to the top of this engineering masterpiece is a trip in itself – 463 steps! The Dome is the largest brick structure ever built, with construction secrets still being studied. Your effort is rewarded by a world famous view of Florence from the top. The Dome includes the largest fresco in the world, Vasari’s Final Judgment. Because it is one of the most visited venues in Florence, be sure to book your entrance in advance to avoid queuing up! Experience an equally fabulous panorama from Giotto’s Bell Tower where you have a close up of the Dome from outside plus the best view over the Baptistery and Piazza del Duomo. Back on the ground, follow Via Roma and stop at Piazza della Repubblica for a coffee break at the Rinascente store. There you can enjoy a cappuccino on the roof terrace while taking in a memorable picture across the city’s rooftops!
The core of the city
After your coffee break, take Via Calimala up to the Palazzo dell’Arte della Lana, one of the most beautiful and best-preserved historical buildings in Florence. From there, follow Via Orsanmichele to find the homonym Church with its gorgeous tabernacles and windows. On Mondays, you can also visit the upper floors for a visual treat — the only public space from which you can admire at the same time the Cathedral on one side and Palazzo Vecchio on the other! Continue your walk up to Piazza della Signoria with the severe facade of Palazzo Vecchio. Seat of the city government and important cultural site, it offers the Secret Passages tour to the most beautiful rooms of the palace. You can also visit the Arnolfo Tower (usually April to September) for a view of the main square of Florence. The tower has a tiny cell called the alberghetto – little hotel – where prisoners, like Savonarola, were kept before being executed. Discover Florence…from below too!! Right under Palazzo Vecchio you will find the Remains of the ancient Roman theater of Florentia, a recent archaeological finding with secret corridors leading to surprisingly well preserved ruins.
For hidden views of Florence, nothing beats the Vasari Corridor! There you can dig into the Renaissance period when the Medici family raised the city to world-renowned splendor. The Medici ordered their architect, Giorgio Vasari, to build a secure covered passage from the government seat at Palazzo Vecchio to Pitti Palace, their residence on the other side of the Arno River. The Corridor is rich with works of art works and special views over Florence. Experience our new VIP Vasari Corridor Experience and have the Uffizi almost to yourself. This early morning visit allows you to avoid most of the crowds and includes a typical Italian breakfast on the museum roof cafe, a privilege in itself. Give it a try! The Vasari corridor tour ends on the south side of the Arno River in a quarter called the Oltrarno, with some of the most genuine places to eat in the city. Try the I’Brindellone (Piazza Piattellina 10/11r), next to Piazza del Carmine offering traditional dishes – ribollita, bistecca alla fiorentina — at honest prices and friendly service.
A View from the Oltrarno
The Oltrarno offers some of the most amazing views of Florence. The Boboli Gardens, one of the best examples of Italian gardens, is the perfect place to relax while taking in the scenery. Another marvelous garden is the Bardini (included in the ticket for Boboli) where you can enjoy the beautiful baroque staircase and the panorama from the Belvedere. If you love walking, try a trail – about 1 km long in the Oltrarno – between artisan ateliers and streets off the beaten track – where time seems to have stopped. From Lungarno take Via dei Bardi and then Via San Niccolò up to Via del Monte alle Croci where you will find the entrance to the Rose Garden, famous for its flowers as well as the collection of statues by Folon such as Partir, a sculpture that creates a perfect frame for a photo of Florence’s colorful rooftops! You can exit at Piazzale Michelangelo, the most famous terrace over the city and an ideal ending to your tour. You can also get to the Piazzale by bus (line 12 or 13) or even better the Citysightseeng, double-deck open bus that will take you all over the city hopping on and off at your pace. Not yet tired? Walk another 200 meters up to the beautiful church of San Miniato a Monte for the complete view over the city!
Sunset and dinner
Discover a hidden corner away from the crowds and totally off the tourist routes, the Ponte Rosso. There you will find a gentle hill behind Piazza della Libertà (take a taxi or buses C1, 12 or 13) to enjoy a sunset where the sun’s colors illuminate the hills, creating an unforgettable effect. Here you will find the Parnassus vegetable garden with the curious Snake Fountain, the adjacent Horticulture Garden and the 19th century greenhouse with rare plants, which is also the site of many cultural events. Time for dinner! Try Pane e Olio (Via Faentina 2r), a high quality intimate restaurant for 20 people only, featuring an amazing selection of cheeses and cold cuts, and the roast suckling pig with turnip tops and blueberry cream. If you prefer remaining in the center of Florence, try the fun filled Pizza and Gelato lesson! Here, close to the Central Market, you can learn the secrets of pizza and Italian ice cream, guided by our chef. You will eat your creations! Or, you can join the Wine, Oil and Cheeses tasting in one of the best wine bars in Florence, with a selection of excellent products and pairings explained by an expert sommelier. Are you greedy? The perfect way to end the day is by tasting the best of sweet and savory local products, with the Gourmet’s tour: delicious stroll through the Florence city center, where we’ll take gourmet pit stops in traditional Florentine bars, shops, and eateries.