5 Attractions You Can’t Miss on a Trip to Florence

The capital city of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence (or “Firenze” as it’s known to the locals) is one of the most important historical places in all of Europe. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, this bastion of art, architecture, and culture is full of must-see attractions, and it draws in more than 1.5 million tourists every year. Whether you only have 24 hours to spend in Florence or have the luxury of staying for a matter of weeks, here are five attractions that are not to be missed.

1. The Duomo – The Italian word “duomo” simply means cathedral, but in Florence, it refers more specifically to the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore. Designed in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio, the building completed construction in 1436 with its famous dome—which is the work of the famed Italian artist and architect Brunelleschi. Located in the beautiful plaza square known as the Piazza del Duomo, the enormous structure can hold up to 20,000 people. The exterior of the cathedral is made of pink, white, and green marble, and its enormous bronze doors are adorned with intricate carvings that depict the life of the Madonna. Adventurous travelers can buy tickets to climb the 463 steps to the top of the iconic dome, from which you can enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the entire city.

2. Galleria dell’ Academia – You have undoubtedly seen Michelangelo’s David in history books and travel brochures throughout your life, but you can witness the majesty of the history’s most famous statue in person at the Galleria dell’ Academia. The 17-foot marble statue was completed in 1504, and it serves as the centerpiece of this historic art museum. You can also view several unfinished works by Michelangelo as well as paintings by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and del Sarto.

3. Ponte Vecchio – The first bridge ever to cross the Arno River from Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is one of the few surviving relics from the city’s medieval days (many others were destroyed during World War II). Built in 1345, the pathway across the bridge has been flanked by shops selling gold and silver jewelry since the 16th century’s Medici era. Photographers love the bridge both because it’s an excellent landmark to photograph and because it provides an excellent vantage point of the city and river below.

4. Galleria degli Uffizi – Renowned as one of the most famous Renaissance art museums in the world, Uffizi (Italian for “offices”) began construction in 1560. Originally an office building for Florentine magistrates—which is where its name comes from—the gallery has been displaying artistic treasures since the House of Medici fell from power in the early 18th century. Uffizi is home to thousands of priceless works of art dating from the middle ages through modern times, and its most famous pieces include  Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Boticelli’s Primavera, and Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch.

5. Piazza della Signoria – Located at the heart of the city and featuring Florence’s prominent town hall and political center (Palazzo Vecchio), Piazza della Signoria is the most famous of the city’s squares. Its crown jewel is the open-air sculpture garden, which features works by some of history’s most famous Florentine artists (including a reproduction of Michelangelo’s David). The L-shaped square is also home to many other historical buildings that date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and it is surrounded by popular shops and restaurants for tourists to enjoy.

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