Of all the cities I visited in Italy, Florence was by far my favorite. The birthplace of the Renaissance, the city is busting with creativity, art and beauty, and its compact city center makes it easy to explore on foot. I found the city to be full of unexpected wonders and inspiration to lead a more creative life.
I only had one day to spend in this glorious city, but it proved to be enough time for me to hit all the major spots. The museums get quite crowded, so you have to be careful about when and how to visit certain sites. Here’s how to do Florence in a day:
24-hour Florence Itinerary
Galleria dell’ Academia
Begin your morning at the Galleria dell’ Academia, home to Michaelangelo’s David. The museum opens at 8:15 so arrive around 7:45 to ensure your spot in the front of the long line that forms by opening. Grab some coffee and a pastry at a nearby café beforehand and enjoy breakfast while waiting. Walk through the museum and be sure to check out The Rape of the Sabine Women, a sculpture by Giambologna that was one of the first to show 3D perspective. Prepare to have your breath literally taken away as mine was upon seeing David. I’ve never seen a work of art or statue that is so lifelike it impressed me much more than I had anticipated.
The Duomo of Florence
A short walk from this museum is the Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. While entrance to the cathedral is free, it is best to purchase a ticket to see more features. Stop off at the museum first to take in a set of brass doors that depict scenes from the Old Testament. The cathedral opens at 10, and if you time it right you should now be able to get in line to enter right around this time before the wait is too long. After admiring the frescos on the ceiling and perhaps praying, Head to the cuopola next and climb 414-steps for panaromic views of the city. The view is well worth the trek through claustrophic hallways and up uneven stairs.
Galleria degli Uffitzi
Be sure to admire the Duomo’s unique marble exterior before moving on to the Galleria degli Uffitzi, a chronological tribute to the history of art and home to the largest collection of Renaissance paintings. The lines for this museum can be several hours long and the museum is too vast to be understood with a self guided visit anyway, so take a guided tour. Not only will you be able to skip the line on such a tour, you will also be able to actually understand what you are looking at and learn about the progressive of art throughout time. Guides can be found in front of the museum. Grab a sandwich for a quick lunch on the steps while you wait for your tour to start. Don’t miss The Birth of Venus by Botticelli or the rooms dedicated to DaVinci and Michaelangelo.
After exiting the museum head to the front of the Palazzo della Signoria and snap a photo of a replica of the statue of David before taking a walk over Ponte Vecchio. Built in 1345, this bridge is lined with goldsmiths and jeweler’s shops. Spend an hour or so exploring these stores and the shops in the neighborhood just over the river.
Sunset in Piazalle Michelangelo
The best place to see the sunset over the city is Piazalle Michelangelo, which is also on this side of the river. Before hiking up to this location, stop at Il Gelato di Filo, for a scoop (or two) of the best gelato I ate in Italy.
End the day watching the sunset over the Duomo and contemplate the creative power of this city before heading out for a delicious Italian dinner.