Florence city is an open air art museum, every corner has an interesting piazza with spectacular art, and every street has work from a budding artist. While there are enough museums to fill up more than a week, 2 days gave us a great feel for the city. With 48 hours to explore, here is an itinerary we’d recommend:
Take a free walking tour (or 2): Walking tours are a great way to get to know the lay of the land, and the stories help remember landmarks that would otherwise be overlooked. We went on the Renaissance (11am-1pm) and Medici (2-4pm) tours offered by Florence free tours. While together they took up a large part of the day, by the end, we could walk around the city confidently without getting completely lost, and knew where the major landmarks were. A great self-guided tour can be found here, though we found that it was more fun to have a guide to tell us stories.
Piazzale Michelangelo: Now that you know the city, get a spectacular aerial view of it. The walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo is not too tough, and though it does involve a few steps, the panoramic view from the top is worth it! With a chilled beer in hand, gaze upon the city you have just gotten to know. The rose garden on the way down is worth wandering into too, remember to stop and smell the roses!
End the day with one or a few glasses of Tuscan wine at Senorvino and dinner at one of the exciting restaurants along Via di Santo Spirito.
Day 2: Museum day
While visiting museums isn’t always on everyone’s list, you can’t go to Florence and not visit at least one museum. Most museums are closed on Monday, so plan accordingly. With a wide variety to choose from, we picked,
Uffizi – The Louvre of Florence it houses masterpieces by maestros like Botticelli, Caravaggio, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and others. Since we did not have the foresight to buy advance tickets, we joined the line as early at 8.30am and still had to wait for about 2 hours. Advance tickets can be purchased online, or from the ticket counters at the Uffizi or the Pitti Palace, for 4 EUR more, and are definitely worth it, especially on a weekend or during peak tourist season. Get the audio tour, or a guided tour, it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable. With its vast collection, allot at least 3 hours to the museum and prepare to be amazed!
Accademia– Besides the famous David, which itself makes the visit worth the time, the museum also houses great art pieces and displays the history of music. The line was shorter, it took only half an hour to get in, and an hour and a half was about enough to look around.
Florence cathedral aka Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or simply the Duomo was on our list too, but the lines were impossibly long. Again, advance tickets can be bought.
With more than half the day spent inside museums, spend the evening sipping a Spritz or with a delicious gelato, people-watching at Piazza dela Signoria or on Ponte Vecchio, watching the sun set on the Arno.
If you have had your fill of the ubiquitous pizzerias, find a local trattoria and try one of the local dishes- read more here.
Florence by night is less impressive than one would imagine, but it does get cooler and there are fewer people, so admiring the spectacular architecture is easier by night.
Finally remember to meet il Porcellino, the Florentine boar, and rub its snout to ensure your return to the birthplace of Italian Renaissance, the capital region of Tuscany, the city that itself is a cultural, artistic and architectural gem!