Best of Florence: Top 10 Attractions in Florence
Florence is literally bursting with places of visitor interest, particularly in the realm of art and architecture. There are scores of impressive medieval palazzos (palaces) and piazzas (public squares) throughout the city, together with museums and galleries filled to the rafters with monumental collections of art and antiquities, enough to overwhelm even the seasoned tourist. So, you might ask, what should one see in this Renaissance city? Well, here are the top 10 attractions of Florence.
Piazza del Duomo, in the heart of the historical district, is the city's most famous square. It is dominated by the Cupola Duomo, Florence's pièce de résistance, a landmark cathedral with a massive ochre dome designed by Brunelleschi and visible from virtually every vantage point in the city.
Galleria degli Uffizi, the largest and most prestigious art museum in Florence, has a monumental collection that covers virtually every art movement in Italy and throughout Europe. Crammed with priceless works in 45 rooms in two galleries, plus an historic corridor, it is a place not to be missed.
Palazzo Vecchio, a 14th-century military-style medieval town hall with crenelations and a 308-foot tower, built in massive fort-like dimensions, is worth seeing. Its interior walls are adorned with Vasari's frescoes depicting the history of the ruling Medici family.
Galleria Dell-Accademia is the second-most visited gallery in Florence. It has seven famous marble sculptures by Michelangelo, including his renowned David. The gallery also houses a fabulous collection of paintings by Benozzo, Gozzoli, Botticelli, Fillippino Lippi, Perugino, and others.
The Piazza Repubblica is one of the most impressive public squares in the center of Florence, hugely popular with tourists. A great place for an espresso and pastry, it is populated with historic cafés that drew writers, artists and intellectuals of the 19th century.
Florence's National Museum, housed in the 13th-century Palazzo Bargello, has an outstanding collection of Renaissance sculpture, including Michelangelo's first major piece, Bacchus, as well as works by Ghiberti, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Verrocchio, Cellini and Giambologna.
Giardino di Boboli, located in the hilly area behind the Palazzo Pitti, is Florence's most famous public garden and one of the best examples of Italian landscaping. There are fountains, grottoes and scores of astonishing sculptures. The garden's ancient amphitheater is where opera was born.
Of all of Florence's neighborhoods, the Oltrarno is singularly the most picturesque and most colorful. Situated on the south side of the River Arno, it is a warren of narrow, winding, cobbled streets filled with antique dealers, artisan workshops and great restaurants. Here are the last vestiges of Florentine culture.
Piazzale Michelangelo has the city's best viewpoint, with a sweeping panorama of Florence, especially lovely at sunset. This is a popular tourist stop, crowded with souvenir dealers. There's also a bronze replica of Michelangelo's David here.
Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), located near the Mercato Nuevo, offers in it the classic Florentine view. It is an outstanding example of medieval bridge architecture, dating from 1345. In the quarters at the bridge are jewelry traders who have plied their trade here since the 17th century.
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