What to see in Florence on a weekend
Leave for a weekend out of town, break the monotony of the week and relax away from the daily stress. There are many Italian destinations to choose from and, among them, the Tuscan capital is one of the most popular in all seasons because there is always plenty of choice on what to see in Florence. It can be reached by any means: plane, train, bus or car, and satisfies all travelers: lovers of art and architecture, history, photography, scholars of Dante, refined palates, avid players of Assassin’s Creed, fans of the television series of Leonardo Da Vinci and many others.
Perhaps more than other cities it gives its best when shot on foot, because behind every fork there is something to discover and to be enchanted by.
A weekend is perhaps not enough to see everything that Florence has to offer but, without going into detail and carefully selecting your itinerary, two days are enough to get a general impression of the city and decide to return as soon as possible to see it again.
What to see in Florence: Santa Maria Novella
If you arrive in the Tuscan capital by train, we recommend that you get off at Santa Maria Novella station and start the tour from the Basilica that bears the same name. A large square houses the facade and the large colonnade of this Dominican church whose origins date back to 1200. In addition to admiring and immortalizing in one click the marble pediment by Leon Battista Alberti, a masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, enter, walk through the three naves, and stop in front of the Trinity of Masaccio.
What to see in Florence: the Duomo
Leaving Santa Maria Novella and taking Via dei Panzani, perhaps taking advantage of the opportunity to do some ‘shopping along the way, you reach the Cathedral, the baptistery of San Giovanni and Giotto’s Bell Tower. Looking at the pink, green and white marble facades, we will probably find ourselves in front of a unique complex, in reality we are faced with elements designed and built in different periods of time. The Baptistery, with an octagonal plan, was built on Roman ruins, the three bronze doors of greater artistic value were built between 1330 and 1452. The first, the south door, made by Andrea Pisano is dedicated to the figure of the saint, the north door is the work of Francesco Ghiberti and represents the life of Christ and, finally, the east door, also by Ghiberti, also known as Paradise, depicts scenes from the Old Testament. Giotto’s Bell Tower is impressive for its perfection, 84 meters high, you can visit every day from 8:30 to 19:30. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, dedicated to Florence itself, is the result of a long process of construction that lasted two hundred years and ended in 1436 with its consecration. Brunelleschi’s Dome with the architectural solution of the double cap is another of the masterpieces of the Florentine Renaissance and is what makes the Cathedral unique.
Flavours of Florence
The food and wine pleasures of Tuscan cuisine are another of the many reasons why you should visit this city. The typical dish is certainly the Florentine: a rib of Chianina meat grilled or barbecued and served “al sangue” to accompany a glass of Chianti Classico, served with a flask of wine. Meat has a preponderant role in Tuscan cuisine: we find it in the many Tuscan croutons, hams and salami. There is no shortage of traditional vegetarian dishes, such as pappa al pomodoro, which has become a boast of being a poor dish. To enjoy the delicacies of Tuscan cuisine we recommend you to focus on trattorias and taverns, in this way you will hardly be disappointed. And remember to end every meal with a glass of Vin Santo, the typical liqueur, where you can soak the Cantucci (biscuits with almonds).
What to see in Florence: Old Bridge
Ponte Vecchio with its colourful shops suspended over the Arno is one of the symbols of Florence. It rises at the narrowest point of the river and represents an architectural innovation: it is the first bridge that does not use the acute Roman sixth and instead adopts the method of lowered arches. Cross it to pass from one part of the Arno to the other, photographing the unique panorama and observing the high concentration of jewellers that follow one after the other. During the weekend Ponte Vecchio will tend to be very crowded, but do not despair, cover it with tranquility and devote yourself to photography. You can then continue your walk along the Lungarno or discover other wonders.
Fountain of the Piglet
A short distance from Ponte Vecchio is Mercato Nuovo, a characteristic space where you can find finely crafted leather goods. At the edge of the loggia there is another symbol of the city, perhaps the nicest: the Fountain of the Little Pig. It is a bronze boar placed above a fountain and placed here since 1640. Legend has it that stroking his nose brings good luck and even more so by inserting a coin in the mouth of the pig and see it fall into the grid at his feet. Touching the pig’s nose is one of the things to do in Florence, without forgetting to immortalize the moment.
Holy Cross and the Stendhal Syndrome
Stendhal Syndrome is a very strong sensation that can alter the heartbeat, feel dizziness and hallucinate when faced with wonderful works. It is the affection Stendhal felt at the sight of the Holy Cross, the Gothic Franciscan church, dating from 1300 is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio. On the left side of the front entrance there is a huge statue of Dante from the end of 1800, one of the most important figures of Florence and father of the Italian language and literature. On your way, leave a small space for the Holy Cross and be kidnapped by the Stendhal Syndrome, even if you may try it in front of another Florentine work.
What to see in Florence: the Uffizi Gallery
One of the treasures of Florence is the Uffizi Gallery, the museum in which are preserved the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, a roundup of paintings that cut your breath, a dense chapter of art history collected in a single space. The collection is housed in a palace not far from Palazzo Vecchio (the Town Hall) commissioned from Vasari by Cosimo I de Medici in 1560. If the whole Gallery deserves attention, the most important rooms are perhaps those of the early Renaissance, with works by Masaccio, Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca; the room dedicated to Botticelli which houses his masterpieces: Birth of Venus and Spring; and that of Leonardo Da Vinci with the Adoration of the Magi and the Annunciation, in addition to the works of Perugino. At the end of the visit go to the terrace of the building, you can admire Florence from above. To see Michelangelo’s original David, visit the Accademia Gallery. You can visit the exhibition from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15 to 18:35, it is recommended to buy tickets in advance, even online on the site of the Florentine museums.
What to see in Florence: Boboli Gardens
If you’ve come to Florence on a sunny weekend and want to take a break from so much artistic richness, you can relax by visiting the Boboli Gardens and maybe take advantage of it to have a packed lunch. This Italian garden is located in Florence Oltrarno, behind Palazzo Pitti (residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany). It covers an area of about 45,000 square meters and is interspersed with statues, fountains and buildings. It is open every day from 8:15 a.m. until sunset, the entrance costs 7 Euro.
Maybe you won’t be able to visit all this in one weekend and, probably, you will spend more time tasting the delicacies of Tuscan cuisine or you will give in to shopping or, again, you will walk around aimlessly. You can always come back to visit what you are missing and add to your itinerary the Accademia Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Strozzi and the Alinari Museum of Photography and maybe a game of Fiorentina.
Are you ready for a weekend in Florence?