Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour, Florence (Self Guided)

Michelangelo spent over 20 years of his life in Florence during which he created some of the most beautiful masterpieces this city had ever seen. The most famous of them, the David, is also located in Florence along with a few copies. Take this tour to discover the Florence side of Michelangelo's artistic mastership.
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Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Florence (See other walking tours in Florence)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Author: greghasleft
Accademia di Belle Arti

1) Accademia di Belle Arti (must see)

The Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, located on Via Rasacoli, is an art gallery whose history dates back as far as 1563. Under the advice of Giorgio Vasari, an artist and writer, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de' Medici set up the Accademia e Compagnia delle Arti del Disegno (Arts of Drawing Academy and Company). The institution not only housed renowned artists of Cosimo’s court but also functioned as organisation for the artists of Tuscany. Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) was born as a result of a 1784 decree of the then Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, along with conservatory of music and a school for art restoration.

The Academy and its Gallery are home to some of Michelangelo’s work. A must see art gallery in Italy, Michelangelo’s David is on display here along with his unfinished Prisoners and statue of St. Matthew. The gallery also displays several paintings made by artists between the 13th and 16th centuries. These Renaissance-era paintings are works of famous artists like Uccello, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and others. A room is dedicated to a series of polyptychs which are marvelous. The Gallery also houses plaster sculptures by artists like Bartolini, Pampaloni and Giambologna, to name a few.

Recorded in history as the first academy for drawing in Europe, this Art Academy and Gallery is a must visit for every guest of Florence.

Why You Should Visit:
Michelangelo's David is the undeniable star, but an impressive collection of medieval and renaissance art, too.
The musical section is also tremendous – strings by Casini, Amati and Stradivari, harpsichords and some rarer stuff.
Audio guides are good (for a fee) and have adults or children's version.

A good time to go during high season is on Thursdays when the Accademia is open late (after 7pm) and you don't have long lines.
Consider pre-booking otherwise. You'll have to take your online booking to a doorway just opposite and a little down the street to turn the booking into your tickets (ask the guards to direct you).

Operation Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Basilica di San Lorenzo

2) Basilica di San Lorenzo (must see)

Amidst the hustle-bustle of the city market, stands arguably one of the oldest churches in the history of Florence. The Basilica di San Lorenzo is said to date back to the late Roman era. Along with being the oldest church, the Basilica is also the largest church in Florence.

The Basilica di San Lorenzo is also famous because it served as the parish church and burial ground to one of the most powerful families in late 14th century Florence – the Medici family. The Romanesque style of the previous structure was to be replaced by a more modern Renaissance style edifice. Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi to redesign the church during the early 15th century with an elaborate façade to be designed by Michelangelo himself. However, the untimely death of Brunelleschi and Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici led to the project being abandoned much to the humiliation of Michelangelo. As a result, the exterior was never completed. Till today the structure stands incomplete with the façade in plain brick.

However, the exteriors of the Basilica can be quite misleading, for the interiors of the structure are remarkable, following a Renaissance style with white and grey columns and beautiful marble decoration in front of the altar that marks the grave of the first Medici ruler. The Basilica di San Lorenzo is still recognized as one of the finest examples of the emergence of Renaissance architecture.

Why You Should Visit:
So much to see here that time will fly by as you look at gorgeous paintings & stunning frescos or explore all the cloisters, small gardens, and the library designed by Michelangelo.
The complex includes the New Sacristy with incredible Medici tombs created by Michelangelo depicting day and night, dawn and dusk, and the Chapel of the Princes, also absolutely gorgeous.

A basic knowledge of the Medici family would help your enjoyment of the church.
The market area around San Lorenzo is very nice, so you might want to have a lunch on the piazza in front of the Mercato Centrale (Central Market).

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 1:30-5pm

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.'

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
Casa Buonarroti

4) Casa Buonarroti

The present day building of Casa Buonarroti was once the property of Michelangelo Buonarroti. The building was inherited by his nephew, Lionardo, after his death. However it was Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger, the great nephew of the artist, who converted the house into a museum in honour of his grand uncle. Michelangelo the Younger was so devoted to his great uncle and his work that he hired artists to adorn the place with paintings and frescos. Today, not only is it a museum to display some of the finest works of art and craft, but it also stands as one of the finest buildings in Florence.

Casa Buonarroti is one of the best museums in Florence and houses some of the earliest works of Michelangelo. The Madonna della Scala (Madonna of the steps) carved before 1492 and Battle of Centuras, an incredible complex sculpture, are both a reflection of the extraordinary talent of the artist in the making. Among other artefacts that are also displayed at the museum is a collection of Michelangelo’s autograph drawings that consists of over 205 sketches. The museum also houses some rare art collections that include paintings, sculptures, majolica and other archaeological findings. The Casa Buonarroti is the proud displayer of the wooden model for the façade of San Lorenzo.

Operation hours: Monday, Wednesday - Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Basilica di Santa Croce

5) Basilica di Santa Croce (must see)

The Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most famous and the largest Franciscan churches in the world. Built between the 13th and 14th century, the church flaunts a rich Gothic style of architecture. Also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, the Basilica is the burial place of Italy’s most recognized, such as – Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo and Rossini. Construction of the present building started in 1294 to replace an older edifice. Taken care of by some of the wealthiest families in Florence the job of rebuilding the Basilica was given to Arnolfo di Cambio, an architect known for some of the best Gothic works in Florence.

Besides being known as the resting place of some of the world's most renowned (Dante, da Vinci, Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Rossini, etc.), the church also stands as one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Adorned with the works of some of the finest artisans, sculptures and painters, it is sure to grip you with its grandeur and presence. The Basilica di Santa Croce is the culmination of the efforts of many artists and contributors some of which include- Giorgio Vasari, Benedetto da Maiano, Antonio Canova, Donatello; frescoes by Giotto, Giovanni da Milano, Maso di Banco and many others. Legend even has it that the Santa Croce was founded by Saint Francis himself!

Why You Should Visit:
This is where anyone who was anyone in Florence got buried or memorialized!
Very nice grounds and grassy inner courtyard encouraging to take time to explore.
The outside plaza holds multiple events, from concerts by visiting musicians to Florence "rugby".

Don't miss the Leather school behind this church where young interns are learning the trade.
If you're a woman make sure your knees & shoulders are covered or you will have to purchase a blue wrap for about €1.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5:30pm; Sun: 2-5:30pm; Last admission: 5pm
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.
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

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.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 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...  view more

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

Duomo Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Florence without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Florence, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
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
Arno South Bank Walking Tour

Arno South Bank Walking Tour

Arno South Bank, also known as Oltrarno, what literally means "beyond the Arno", is a magical place, though not everyone knows about it. The many historical places located in this part of the city will amaze you. Take this tour to see some wonderful sites that you will never forget.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Unique Products to Buy in Florence

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Unique Products to Buy in Florence

Compared to other Italian "grands" like Rome, Venice, or Milan, Florence is relatively less-known to an outsider for any local products, save, perhaps, Florentine mosaics and Fiorentina FC. Fortunately, there are tonnes of locally-originated things that this Italian city is rightfully...
Florence's Tasty Coffee Shop Guide

Florence's Tasty Coffee Shop Guide

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Top 14 Pubs in Florence

Top 14 Pubs in Florence

Florence, the city of art and beauty has no problem in mastering the art of the nightlife as well. Local pubs are very popular and appreciated among the Florentines and the tourists. Locals and native English speakers that study or live in the city cannot wait to welcome tourists in their cozy...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Florence for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Florence has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Florence's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Florence City Pass issued by Musement and the Florence City Pass by TicketBar.

A city pass combines all or multiple Florence's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Florence hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Strozzi Palace Hotel, Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy, Hotel Pierre.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Florence, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Florence typically costs from around US$25 up to US$90 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Florence from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the route.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Florence on a 2.5-hour bike tour to visit the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Enjoy a day of art and sightseeing in Florence at a great discount on the Florence Super Saver tour combining two best-selling guided tours for the price of one! Be guaranteed to skip the lines to the Accademia (hosting David) and Uffizi Galleries.

- Get yourself “under the skin” of Florence and explore the city's ghosts and curiosities at night. On this 2-hour night walk you will see the famous Florentine attractions in a different light and hear historical anecdotes and stories associated with them.

- Make the most of your time in Florence with a 3-hour guided walk to the most prominent sights of this magical city, e.g. Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Michelangelo's David, also discovering some of its hidden gems!

- Unleash your appetite for Florentine delicacies on this 3-hour food tour replete with tasting stops throughout the city. Follow an expert guide to eat and drink like a local, treat yourself to some of the top gourmet delights this city has to offer, including rich Italian coffee and gelato, explore the San Lorenzo Market, and so much more!

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Florence, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Pisa and Lucca, Assisi and Cortona, Portovenere and the Cinque Terre, Siena, San Gimignano, or Chianti. For as little as US$50+ to US$100+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including the legendary Leaning Tower of Pisa, Cortona and other towns of Tuscany, set your eyes on the small piece of paradise on Earth manifested in five little villages hanging on cliffs above the sea, learn about the life of St Francis of Assisi, enjoy the sight of a unique landscape and taste the food and wines of Italy. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Florence, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.