City Orientation Walking Tour, Florence

Florence, located in Italy, is believed to be the cultural capital of the world. Sometimes called the Athens of the Middle Ages and the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, Florence attracts millions of tourists every year. Don't miss the chance to visit some of its most alluring attractions.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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City Orientation Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Florence (See other walking tours in Florence)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Author: greghasleft
1
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

1) Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (must see)

Overlooking the city of Florence is the beautiful Florence Cathedral that has famously the largest brick dome in the world. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, which roughly translates to the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, is dedicated to Madonna or The Virgin Mary. This magnificent cathedral is noted for housing Domenico di Michelino's painting, 'Dante and the Divine Comedy', portraying Dante illuminating Florence with his famous poem. The painting is considered absolutely unique and one of the most important artifacts in the cathedral. The building itself is the product of about 170 years of sheer hard work. It was originally constructed to replace the withering structure of Saint Reparata which was founded in the early 5th century. The new church was built in a Gothic style by architect Arnolfo di Cambio who commenced construction of the cathedral in 1296. He was responsible for the construction of the three magnificent naves that spread under the dome. There were high hopes for the cathedral but all fell apart after the death of Arnolfo in 1302. The cathedral was left half built for nearly thirty years after which there were a series of renowned architects who modified and added their inputs to the design. However, it wasn't until 1420 that the true identity of the cathedral was found. Architect Filippo Brunelleschi was commissioned to build the Dome of the cathedral, a project many architects had given up on. The cathedral is many times referred to as Brunelleschi's Dome.

Tip:
When you buy the ticket online, make sure to make use of the free one that comes with the main ticket to climb to the top. You have to make a booking for that too, separately, although free. There are museums as well, and you're required to finish visiting all other facilities within 72hrs of initial entry to Duomo or any other facilities.
You should make use of the free tour guides inside (typically art or history majors) that explain all the paintings within the Duomo, which are marvelously done.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 1:30-5pm
2
Museo Casa di Dante

2) Museo Casa di Dante (must see)

Set in the heart of medieval Florence – presently the area between the Church of Saint Martino and Piazza dei Donati – is the Casa di Dante or the House/Museum of Dante. The building, though erected in the 20th century, is believed to be seated on the birthplace of one of the most cherished poets in Italian history – Dante Alighieri.

The structure that stands today was built by the architect Giuseppe Castellucci in 1911, after which the museum was opened to the public in 1994.

The museum displays some of the most important works and covers the milestones of Dante’s life. It is spread across three floors, which depict the most important phases of the poet’s life. On the first floor, you get a glimpse of Dante as a child, an adolescent and a young adult. Details about the poet's christening, his early public life, his participation in public affairs, etc. are depicted in the form of the poet’s works.

On the second floor, one can find documents related to his exile in 1301, his visits to a number of cities, and the final years that he decided to spend in Ravenna. The third and last floor showcases Dante’s vast collection of documents and the fortune he collected over the years.

Why You Should Visit:
Not Dante's original house, but you can learn about his time and about casual details of his life.

Tip:
Steep stairs, but there is a lift, which is not obvious when you enter.
On the top floor, there is a miniature copy of the 'Divina Comedia' – in fact, it's the world's smallest legible copy.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
3
Bargello

3) Bargello (must see)

Florence is not only a paradise for architectural enthusiasts but also a haven for art lovers and the Bargello Museum is a perfect blend of both. With an exterior of a fortress, the Bargello Museum houses some of the most important pieces of Renaissance sculptures and work of art.

Located in the Palazzo del Popolo, it is one of the oldest structures in the city of Florence and dates back to 1255. Throughout history, the building has served as a fortress, a palace, a prison and most recently a museum. Initially, the structure was used as the headquarters of the Captain of the People, the Peoples Palace, after which it served as the residence of Bargello in the 16th century. Later in the 18th century, the Bargello Fortress acted as a prison up until the mid-19th century, when it was converted into a museum.

The museum is home to some of the finest Gothic decorative art, where one gets to see works of great artists like Donatello, Michelangelo, Filippo Brunelleschi, etc. Among the treasures of Renaissance artists and craftsmen, the museum also houses rare pieces of artifacts from the Byzantine, Roman and medieval era, along with beautiful jewelry right from the Renaissance period down to the Islamic period.

Why You Should Visit:
Donatello’s David was the first male nude sculpture since ancient times. You can admire this turn in art history without an overwhelming amount of visitors.
Aside from the great display of statues, the Bargello has an interesting assortment of ceramics, glass, weapons, armor, and even some amazing locks and keys!
You can take your time here, as they have some fantastic works and there's no sense of pressure that you have to 'rush through' to 'see everything.'

Tip:
To better plan your visit, checking opening days and pay close attention to their hours. Try to visit at night if you can. Sometimes they are open until late at night for special occasions, and there's something very special about wandering through this medieval building when it's empty and eerie at night.
Website: http://www.bargellomusei.beniculturali.it/musei/1/bargello/

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:15am-2pm (Nov-Mar); 8:15-5pm (Apr-Oct)
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Complesso di San Firenze

4) Complesso di San Firenze

Fathers of the Oratorian order always had big plans for this small parish of San Firenze, which was started in 1174. To the parish, they wanted to add a convent, an oratory and a Church dedicated to St. Philip Neri, founder of the order. With passing time, architects changed and so did the designs. However, the limited availability of funds remained a major concern for the extravagant designs of the parish. Finally, in 1667 Francesco Silvani started work on the church. After his death, Ferdinando Ruggieri took over the project and completed the honey coloured façade by 1715. In the 1770s, a new oratory was built and Ruggieri’s work on the façade was duplicated by Zanobi del Rosso, to give us the building the way it looks today. The original parish then became an oratory of the new Church.

The donation arising out of the death of Giuliano Serragli initiated the work of the Church. His contribution, though inadequate to the plan, is respected by the Church and he has been recognised as the Church’s principal benefactor. The Glory of St. Philip Neri decorates the ceiling of the new church.

An occasional example of Baroque style of architecture in the city, this building is now primarily used by the state authorities as a court of law. A small part of the church is still maintained and should be visited, if you are around.
5
Piazza della Signoria

5) Piazza della Signoria (must see)

Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio. It is the focal point of the origin and of the history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political hub of the city. The square features many statues by Giambologna, Donatello, Bandinelli and a copy of Michelangelo's David.

The piazza was already a central square in the original Roman town Florentia, surrounded by a theatre, Roman baths and a workshop for dyeing textiles. Later there was a church San Romolo, a loggia and an enormous 5th-century basilica. This was shown by the archaeological treasures found beneath the square when it was repaved in the 1980s. Even remains of a Neolithic site were found.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the two most important centers of attractions in Florence, along with the Piazza del Duomo.
It might just host the finest collection of outdoor statues in the world and is surrounded by beautifully decorated buildings along with many "very good" to "world-class" museums.

Tip:
Less than a stone's throw away is the impressive Loggia dei Lanzi, an outdoor museum of sorts, where you will find another collection of outstanding statues, including the famous Rape of Sabine Women, Ercole and Centaur, Perseus, amongst others.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Palazzo Vecchio

6) Palazzo Vecchio (must see)

The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence. This massive, Romanesque, crenelated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. Although most of the Palazzo Vecchio is now a museum, it remains the symbol of local government: since 1872 it has housed the office of the mayor of Florence, and it is the seat of the City Council. At the end of the hall is situated a small side room without windows. This masterpiece, the Studiolo of Francesco I was also designed by Vasari in a manneristic style (1570-1575). The walls and the barrel vault are filled with paintings, stucco and sculptures. Most paintings are by the School of Vasari and represent the four elements: water, fire, earth and air. Private Chamber of Eleanor was one of the private rooms of Eleonora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I de' Medici. The paintings are by the Flemish painter Jan Stradan, better known under his Italian name Stradone. Against the wall is a cabinet with Florentine mosaic designs.

Why You Should Visit:
Essential in understanding the history & culture of the city, along with the Duomo complex, Palazzo Pitti, and the major art galleries.
You'll get a crick in your neck from some of the most gorgeous ceilings, room after room.

Tip:
There are various add-on tours for not much extra; e.g. the 'Secret Passages' tour which lasts about 1h½ and allows access to parts of the Palace that are closed to the public.
If you book a tour, book directly with the museum by email with your date/time preference and wait for the confirmation. You'll pay when you pick your tickets up on the day.
When you have finished the tour, you can wander at leisure around the rest of the palace.
Also: don't miss the breathtaking view of the whole city from the top of the tower.

Opening Hours:
Fri-Wed: 9am-7pm; Thu: 9am-2pm
7
Galleria degli Uffizi

7) Galleria degli Uffizi (must see)

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world. It is housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi first erected by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name "uffizi" ("offices"). Construction was continued to Vasari's design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and ended in 1581. Today the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. In high season (particularly in July), waiting times can go up to 5 hours. Visitors who reserve a ticket in advance have a substantially shorter wait. Here is just a tiny selection from the world-class collection of paintings: Cimabue (Maestà), Duccio (Maestà), Leonardo da Vinci (The Annunciation, The Adoration of the Magi). The collection also contains some ancient sculptures, such as the Arrotino and the Two Wrestlers.

Why You Should Visit:
While the paintings and statues are what most people come for, the decoration of the rooms, especially the ceilings, are just as spectacular.

Tip:
Consider purchasing skip-the-line tickets before going (but do this from the official website or you will pay more).
Note that you're not allowed to take in any liquids and that the restrooms are at the entrance & exit with nothing in-between.
Also, don't just pass by the cafe, as the terrace offers great views that you won't see anywhere else.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8:15am-6:45pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Ponte Vecchio Bridge

8) Ponte Vecchio Bridge (must see)

The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.

The bridge spans the Arno at its narrowest point where it is believed that a bridge was first built in Roman times when the via Cassia crossed the river at this point. The Roman piers were of stone, the superstructure of wood. The bridge first appears in a document of 996. After being destroyed by a flood in 1117 it was reconstructed in stone but swept away again in 1333 save two of its central piers. It was then rebuilt in 1345.

It is said that the economic concept of bankruptcy originated here: when a money-changer could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the "banco") was physically broken ("rotto") by soldiers, and this practice was called "bancorotto" (broken table; possibly it can come from "banca rotta" which means "broken bank"). Not having a table anymore, the merchant was not able to sell anything.

Why You Should Visit:
Only open to pedestrian traffic and the light along the river at sunset makes it a special venue to cross or watch from afar.

Tip:
Frankly, going over the bridge itself isn't as great as seeing it from the side views, but if you do cross, be careful with your surroundings to avoid getting pickpocketed.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Palazzo Pitti

9) Palazzo Pitti (must see)

Luca Pitti, a famous banker of Florence, commissioned the construction of this palace for his residence in 1458. However, when he died, the construction had not been completed yet. Financial issues forced Pitti descendants to sell this building to Eleonora Medici, the wife of Cosimo de’Medici, who moved in later that year from Palazzo Vecchio, the Medicis' then residence. A private corridor was then built between the two buildings for the privacy of the house residents.

Ammanatti was commissioned by the family in 1558 and was assigned the task of making the Boboli Gardens. The Gardens have an amphitheatre where performances were held to entertain the Medici family. The palace was the residence for the House of Lorraine, after the end of the Medici dynasty. Napoleon, too, stayed here during his reign over Italy. Victor Emmanuel III, from the House of Savoy, gifted the palace to the nation of Italy in 1919, which was then opened to the public as five art galleries and the largest museum complex in Florence.

You can see over 500 Renaissance-style paintings in the Palatine Gallery, witness the lavish residence of the Medici family at the Royal Apartments, see the “Medici Treasury” containing priceless silver items from the 15th century, along with the Costumes Gallery and the Porcelain and Carriages Museums, when you visit here. Even with over five million annual visitors and being a part of public property, the Palazzo has the feel of a private royal collection.

Why You Should Visit:
Everything about this palace oozes class. Impressive motives and each room is in itself a marvel because of the huge range of painted ceilings and the wall and ground decorations.

Tip:
You can buy a combined full ticket including the Gardens, Museums, and the Uffizi (a 3-day pass) or just the Pitti Museums & Gardens ticket valid for two days. It all depends on the time you have. You can easily spend 3hrs just walking the Gardens, and it would be well worth it especially if to enjoy the unbelievable views – just don't forget your hat and bottle of water.
One way to avoid the long line is to take a tour – yes, there is a cost, but tours include skipping the line, admission fees, and make good use of your Florence time because the guides can direct you to the highlights of the collections.

Tue-Sun: 8:15am-6:50pm (including the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments and the Gallery of Modern Art)
10
Giardino di Boboli

10) Giardino di Boboli (must see)

The Giardino di Boboli or the Boboli Garden is one of the most elegant gardens in Florence. Situated just behind the Pitti Palace, they are said to be the first few gardens that were built in the 16th century. The gardens were built for the wife of Cosimo I de' Medici, Eleonora di Toledo.

The Boboli Gardens have had many renowned art names of the 16th century working on it. Niccolo Tribolo worked on it till his death in 1550. The work was later taken over by Bartolomeo Ammanati and Bernardo Buontalenti. These artists were responsible for the emergence of the Mannerist style in art, which succeeded the Renaissance period of art in Florence. Hence, the Boboli Gardens are also looked at as one of the important places in Florence where such different styles can be appreciated.

Through the years the Boboli Gardens have undergone large-scale reconstructions as a result of which the present day garden covers an area of approximately 11 acres of land. This vast garden is also looked upon as a museum where one can encounter art, sculptures and antiques right from the Roman era to the 16th and 17th centuries. Filled with grottos, nymphea, mythical sculptures and garden temples, the Boboli Gardens is sure to enchant your senses.

Why You Should Visit:
Takes some stamina to get around as it is hilly and with lots of stairs, but has great views over the city and some things to discover (fountains, museum) if you walk up.

Tip:
A full exploration will take about 2 hours; bring some snacks, water and good shoes.
Entry is included in the FirenzeCard and you do not need to queue if you have the card; go straight to the bookshop inside the Pitti Palace to gain access to the gardens.
Take the north exit to visit Fort Belvedere and the south-west exit to visit La Specola.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:15am-6:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Forte di Belvedere

11) Forte di Belvedere

The Forte di Belvedere or Fortezza di Santa Maria in San Giorgio del Belvedere is a fortification in Florence. It was built by Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici during the period 1590–1595, with Bernardo Buontalenti as the designer, to protect the city and its rule by the Medici family. In particular, it was used to hold the Medici treasury. The design and construction of the Fort were entrusted to architect Bernardo Buontalenti, the chief architect for both Cosimo I and his son, Ferdinando. The Fort served many purposes: to protect the center of government in Florence, the Pitti Palace; to protect the south end of the city of Florence and the Oltrarno district; to demonstrate the power of the Medici family; and finally to provide a shelter for the Grand Duke if the city came under attack. The fort was connected to Palazzo Vecchio via the Vasari Corridor over Ponte Vecchio, passages in the Pitti Palace and paths through Boboli Gardens.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Piazzale Michelangelo

12) Piazzale Michelangelo (must see)

Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) is a famous square with a magnificent panoramic view of Florence and is a popular tourist destination in the Oltrarno district of the city. The famous view from this observation point overlooking the city has been reproduced on countless postcards and snapshots over the years.

It was built in 1869 and designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi on a hill just south of the historic center, during the redevelopment of the left bank of the Arno (the South side of the river). At that time, Florence was the capital of Italy and the whole city was involved in an urban renewal, the so-called "Risanamento" or the "Rebirth" of the city's middle class.

The square, dedicated to the great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo, has copies of some of his works found elsewhere in Florence: the David and the four allegories of the Medici Chapel of San Lorenzo. These copies are made of bronze, while the originals are all in white marble. The monument was brought up by nine pairs of oxen on 25 June 1873.

Why You Should Visit:
Most beautiful vantage point in Florence!
Well worth the walk up the hill and you can pause in the rose garden half way up.

Tip:
Go early in the morning to avoid crowds or at sunset (still crowded but beautiful views!). For runners, it's a great run up the hill in the early hours.
The square on a sunny day will torture you with heat – bring your hat at the least.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Florence, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Creating your own self-guided walk in Florence is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Novella Walking Tour

Novella Walking Tour

Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". This city has to offer a lot of wonderful places to admire. Take this tour to walk along the Arno embankment and explore the south-eastern part of the Santa Maria Novella quarter.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Historic Centre Nightlife

Historic Centre Nightlife

Well known for its beautiful historic architecture and for its huge contribution to the Renaissance movement in Italy, Florence remains a vibrant, thriving center of activity that hosts not only a large tourism trade, but also attracts a lot of international students studying abroad. As such, Florence possesses a hot nightlife scene where guests from around the world can hear some amazing music and dance until the break of dawn. Take this Florence Nightlife Tour to Discover all this city has to offer when the sun goes down.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Florence Museums

Florence Museums

Over the centuries Florence gained a huge collection of art works. Almost half of them come from the world known artists that lived here and the other half comes from the private collection of the Medici family that have ruled the city for a long time. To show their pride, the city of Florence displayed all these magnificent works of art in numerous museums and palaces. Take this tour to get familiarized with the best paintings, sculptures, drawings, frescoes in the world.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante Alighieri is considered one of the greatest poets of all times. He was born in Florence and spent most of his life there until he was exiled. Many of the structures in the city were built according to his greatest epic poem Divina Commedia. This tour will take you on a trip through Dante's life and work in Florence.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Duomo Walking Tour

Duomo Walking Tour

Duomo quarter is located in the very heart of the Florence Historic Center. This area is deservedly considered the religious and the civic centre of the town. Most of the historic sites Florence is famous for are to be found here. Take this tour to explore all the masterpieces of the Duomo quarter.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Novella & Indipendenza Walking Tour

Novella & Indipendenza Walking Tour

Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". This city has to offer a lot of wonderful places to admire. Take this tour to explore Indipendenza and Santa Maria Novella quarters, visit beautiful Dominican basilica of Santa Maria Novella, as well as Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Accademia di Belle Arti, Cappella dei Principi and many others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km

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