Favourite parts of Florence?
March 11, 2012 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about your favourite places and or things in Florence.

At the end of this month I will be starting a small trip around Italy, starting with 2 days in Florence and then 4 days at a villa near Sienna for a cooking holiday.

I've lived in Bologna before, speak fluent Italian but only visited Florence once, and was visiting other students living there so we mostly just went to bars and the cathedral.

If you have been, what were your highlights? I only have 2 days and don't want to cram too much in, recommendations?

I like art galleries, good museums, bars with good antipasti.
posted by ellieBOA to Travel & Transportation (27 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I really enjoyed walking around the Boboli Gardens. Nicely set out and with charming views over the surrounding hills. Makes for a good walk in the late afternoon.

The Medici Riccardi Palace is very much on the trouist trail but I really liked it and it has stuck in my head ever since.
posted by biffa at 3:36 PM on March 11, 2012

I just landed on Wednesday from a lovely week in Florence! I ended up with an extra day due to a travel snafu, and spent part of it walking up to Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato al Monte; that was the best thing I did the entire trip, and I almost missed them!

I also took a gorgeous run against the north bank of the Arno and that was one of the nicest things ever.

Aperitivo at Kitsch and the top of the Oblate Library were also really nice. The library didn't have as great of food, but you're on the top of a library! They also have live music.
posted by quadrilaterals at 3:48 PM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here are two blog posts from my short trip there last January: Part One and Part Two. (sorry for the self-linking; it was easier than retyping all of the info here)
posted by melissasaurus at 3:49 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

That walk up the hill to Piazzale Michelangiolo and San Miniato on the other side of the Arno is not to be missed! And for something so postcard-perfect, it's surprisingly uncrowded.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:06 PM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Pitti Palace with attached gardens are lovely, overlooked, and contain some amazingly black and white false moldings, keep your eye in the ceiling, those aren't carved, that's paint.
posted by The Whelk at 4:10 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

A not-miss for any art-lover is the Museo del Duomo, located behind the Duomo proper.
There are some incredible Donatello sculptures, a Michelangelo pieta, and (best of all) is usually uncrowded.
posted by dbmcd at 4:14 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Despite the crowds, if you like Renaissance art and didn't go during your first visit I'd highly recommend spending at least half a day in the Uffizi Gallery. I'd studied art history for years and been to many museums in the US and abroad, but seeing all of those iconic paintings, such as Botticelli's Primavera among dozens of others equally iconic works, was really an amazing experience. I was there during the height of the tourist season, didn't have a ticket and have to say that the wait to get in wasn't nearly as bad as I thought that it would be nor was it unbearably crowded once I I got inside (I've seen far bigger crowds as popular exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum and MoMA).
posted by kaybdc at 4:16 PM on March 11, 2012

Yes, definitely the Uffizi Gallery.
posted by mleigh at 4:32 PM on March 11, 2012

I'd say the highlights after travelling through every small church with my Renaissance art-loving wife and her Renaissance art loving mother:

--The Uffizzi
Not to be missed, by any means. In fact, if you go to one museum there, go to this one.

--Museo di San Marco
All those Fra Angelico cubicles is just incomparable aesthetic joy.

--Brancacci Chapel
Amazing to see al those iconic scenes from Masaccio.

Agreed that the San Miniato view is compelling. We were also there while the monks who live there were doing their Gregorian Chants..
posted by vacapinta at 4:34 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Museo Galileo is all about early science, with a lot of those experimental inclined planes carved from wood, astrolabes, optical instruments, all kinds of neat tools for experimentation. On Thursday night they have an actor playing Galileo, roaming around teaching science to the children (sorry, in Italian).
posted by francesca too at 4:55 PM on March 11, 2012

Also the biblioteca laurenziana, architectural eye candy for book lovers.
posted by francesca too at 4:59 PM on March 11, 2012

Antico Noe has a to-go sandwich ship as well as a sit-down restaurant. Both are great.

Delicious Gelato. Just north of this shop, on Via Faenza, there's a lot of feral cats. Leave them some gelato, because they like it too.
posted by benbenson at 6:04 PM on March 11, 2012

Highly recommend reserving the Ufizzi a day ahead so you don't have to spend time in line. Nthing the Brancacci Chapel, for which you must reserve. The frescoes are stunning. Convent San Marco, where Fra Angelico lived and painted, might be a wonderful visit on your second day--not too overwhelming. But if you just want two big art experiences, then the Uffizi and the Duomo Museum are what you're looking for.

Nthig Piazalle Michaelangelo to get an overview of the city at sunset. If you're there on Sunday evening, the church at the the summit has the Gregorian chants mentioned upthread. Quite a beautiful experience at sunset.

Also, do a short walking tour of the Otranto, the other side of the Arno. The street that runs parallel to the Arno on that side has wonderful printmakers, jewelers, galleries. I loved Florence on that other side--not so hectic, better restaurants. It's just a short walk over one of the bridges.
posted by Elsie at 6:20 PM on March 11, 2012

Seconding Palazzo Pitti. The costume galleries alone were worth the price of admission.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:53 PM on March 11, 2012

The viewpoint from Fiesole is wonderful.
posted by bq at 8:24 PM on March 11, 2012

Nthing San Marco - the Fra Angelico frescoes are stunning. I actually had to sit down when I saw the crucifixion, it was incredible.
posted by momus_window at 9:43 PM on March 11, 2012

Seeing Michelangelo's David was a profound experience. I know some people are satisfied seeing the replica in the Palazzo Vecchio, but for me being in the same room as the original, knowing Michelangelo had touched that piece of marble was awe-inspiring.
posted by funkiwan at 11:01 PM on March 11, 2012

The Uffizi. If you're a gallery goer, this is a must see.
posted by Intaglio a go-go at 11:41 PM on March 11, 2012

Hot chocolate and brandy at the Caffe Rivoire.
posted by annathea at 2:55 AM on March 12, 2012

Definitely see Michelangelo's David - it's a spiritual experience. When I was there, unfinished works lined the hallway which agreed with the sculptor's concept of the beauty needing to be freed from the stone.

Nthing Uffizi and Piazzale Michelangiolo.

And a quiet walk through the Ponte Vecchio is an experience - just resist buying anything.
posted by arzakh at 4:03 AM on March 12, 2012

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella on Via della Scala, the best best best ancient shop in the world. Soaps, perfumes, candles, creams and much much more -- wonderful place to just browse and inhale, or buy some wonderful souvenirs.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:08 AM on March 12, 2012

Totally agree that Santa Maria Novella is an awesome place to visit (both the sanctuary and the shop), and please tell me you'll make time to have dinner at Coco Lezzone. The roast pork is amazing.
posted by ersatzkat at 7:09 AM on March 12, 2012

The number of famous Italians buried at Santa Croce boggles the mind: Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Rossini just to name a few.
posted by soelo at 8:47 AM on March 12, 2012

Definitely visit Vivoli for the best Gelato in the world. Have very fond memories of the place.
posted by manny_calavera at 9:16 AM on March 12, 2012

We did a Market Walk, booked through Context Tours, with the unbelievably awesome Linda Sorgiovanni. She took us to some really great places, introduced us to a bunch of vendors and generally shared the spirit of dining with us. It was my favorite part of my trip to Italy.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:13 AM on March 12, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all the suggestions! Will try and remember to update after my trip.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:10 PM on March 12, 2012

Response by poster: So, thanks for all the fab recommendations, arrived Saturday afternoon, wandered round but after getting up at 4am didn't have the energy for much! Yesterday did the uffizi, piazzele michelangelo, and san miniato, then had aperitivo at
Moyo, more wandering round and visiting churches this morning, now off to Siena.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:51 AM on March 26, 2012

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