Holidays to Florence are like a dream come true for art lovers, particularly if you favour the incredible work from the Italian Renaissance period. Whether you want to see intricate works of sculpture, grand displays of architecture, or world-renowned paintings, this stunning city has a wealth of artefacts and artworks of every type. Here is a selection of some of the finest museums, galleries and other attractions you may want to explore.
Il Duomo di Firenze
A trip to Florence would not be complete without a visit to its famous cathedral, formally known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and less formally referred to as Il Duomo. This incredible work of architecture took nearly 150 years to complete, with the dome itself engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in 1436. Due to the size and complexity of the dome, it has essentially become an architectural legend.
The doors and façade make for an exterior rivalled by few other churches, while the interior can only be described as awe-inspiring. Many of the original pieces created for the cathedral are held at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo which can be found on the same square (Piazza del Duomo) as the cathedral itself.
Giotto’s bell tower and the Baptistery of Saint John
Giotto’s bell tower is an impressive construction with an incredibly intricate exterior. For a stunning view of the city, consider climbing the stairs to the top of the tower and stand next to the Baptistery of Saint John, an octagonal building with a beautiful marble exterior.
The baptistery cannot strictly speaking be classed as Renaissance architecture as it is far older than the bell tower or the cathedral. However, Ghiberti’s doors, dubbed the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo himself, ensure that the baptistery is of interest to Renaissance enthusiasts. A number of members of the Medici family (arguably the most influential family during the Italian Renaissance period), as well as other notable figures, were baptised at the Baptistery of Saint John.
The Uffizi Gallery
One of the most famous art museums in the world; Giotto, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael just to name a few have work on display in this extensive collection. The building itself was designed by Vasari, the renowned author of Lives of the Artists. The gallery is connected to the Pitti Palace by a ‘secret’ corridor which reaches over the river Arno. The Uffizi boasts a few fascinating statues, but if your interests lie with sculpture over paintings, the Bargello could be the museum for you.
The building in which the art collection is housed has a fascinating history itself. Since its construction began in 1255 it has been used as a house for the “captain of the people,” a home for the highest magistrate of the city council and a jail where executions took place. It has been a museum since 1865 and homes an impressive collection. Donatello is well represented with his bronze David having recently undergone restoration. Works by Michelangelo and Ghiberti are also displayed here, among other formidable artists.
The Accademia Museum is an important attraction for sculpture enthusiasts. With a selection of works by Michelangelo, including his statue of David, this museum is home to some of the most famous works of art from the Italian Renaissance. Art lovers who have an interest in paintings will be able to see that Botticelli is well represented on the walls of the museum’s halls, along with works by Lippi, Ghirlandaio, and Baldovinetti.
Florence has such an incredible wealth of buildings that describing all of them could span an entire book. The church of Santa Croce is worth a visit if you have the time, as is the Santa Maria Novella church – both are beautiful works of architecture and house impressive collections of art. The Basilica of San Lorenzo, despite its history and unfinished façade, has become a favourite for many tourists.
There are numerous hotels in Florence within easy walking distance of the city’s main attractions, ensuring that Florence holidays are as simple as they are enjoyable. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay!