Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance and the city is always sprawling with intellectual and architectural marvels. Every time I visit, I leave the city inspired and enlightened. Like most trips, we spent 24 hours in Florence. Given this short amount of time, we were able to make the most of all the things Florence has to offer!
We took the train from Venice (If you missed my Venice adventures see here) to Florence. We stayed at the Hotel Spadai located right in the heart of the city. The first half of the day, we explored the Duomo and the Galleria Dell-Accademia. If you missed it, visit here for the complete 1st half of the day adventures!
Feeling like a Royal at Palazzo Vecchio …
After lunch, we headed over to the Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio. This main square was bursting with people and I loved marveling at the beautiful fountain and sculptures in the area. Being once home to the original David, a replica now stands in the square. The square was also home to Ammannati’s The Nettuno fountain, Cellini’s Perseo holding Medusa’s head sculpture and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines statue.
We headed into the Palazzo Vecchio after enjoying the square to see the rooms and architecture of this 13th century palace. The frescos and paintings throughout the palace reinforced not only the wealth of the Medici family, but also the power that they held throughout Europe during the Renaissance Era. Reaching the top of the castle and bell tower, we enjoyed amazing views of the city below.
Taking in Medieval Art …
Our next stops of the day continued to explore the Medici family, but instead of their castle this time it was their art collection. We stopped at the Bargello National Museum first which we came upon by accident. This sculpture museum was home to works by Donatello and Michelangelo, among many others. It was empty in comparison to other art galleries in the city. Thus it was a welcome escape among some of the great masters!
Our last art stop of the day was the Uffizi Gallery. In stark contract to the Bargello, this gallery was crowded. It is one of the most popular gallery’s in Florence (only getting surpassed by the Galleria Dell-Accademia). Similar to the Accademia, buying tickets online was necessary in order to skip hours waiting in line. This 16th century gallery had artwork from the middle ages to the 19th century, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation. Not only was the artwork amazing, but each room had beautiful frescos and statues throughout.
Enjoying Medieval Crossings …
Once we exited the gallery, we headed to Ponte Vecchio. There we enjoyed crossing the old medieval bridge, browsing the historic gold shops, and enjoying some fresh gelato on the walk. I swear the best gelato places are near this area!
Santa Croce Basilica
Our last adventure of the day was touring the Basilica of Santa Croce. This 15th century church was the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, among others. It had beautiful frescos within the church and the sculptures surrounding the tombs made this church a work of art.
Walking back from the basilica to the Duomo, we stopped along the way at the leather shops. I always wanted a Florentine leather jacket. With multiple shops along the way and every shape and style available, it was hard to select one to buy. Eventually, we wondered into one shop that had a beautiful brown leather jacket. I knew was the perfect jacket for me!
After freshening up in our hotel, we headed out to dinner (me in my new leather jacket!) to enjoy a traditional Florence dinner that the hotel helped us arrange. We shared a Fiorentina Bistecca. This was by far the best steak I ever had! It was a perfect end to a busy day exploring all the medieval history of Florence.