Home » One Day in Florence – the Perfect Itinerary

One Day in Florence – the Perfect Itinerary

by Daniela

One day Florence is too short to get to know this magnificent city but it’s enough to make you fall in love with it. You will be able to visit some of the city’s top attractions and at least one museum. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance in Italy and is abundant with masterpieces from the period. It can be pretty touristy in the summer, but if you love history and art Florence should be on your Tuscan itinerary.

Read more: Are you putting together your Tuscan itinerary? Then you should probably include Volterra and San Gimingano in it. Click on the names to read what is so special about those places.

Can I explore Florence in a day?

If you are travelling or road tripping in Tuscany (or Italy), then one day in Florence will be perfect to see the most important landmarks. However, I strongly recommend staying longer, like 4-5 days. Florence is a great destination for a city trip as well, as it has its own international airport.


#EnjoyRespectFirenze

Being one of the major touristic destinations in Italy, Florence is on the verge of being destroyed by mass tourism.  With the cruise ships bringing millions of tourists in La Spezia and Livorno in the summer months, that head in buses to Florence to consume its beauty as fast-food, Florence is struggling with the tourist influx, just like Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona.

One of the initiatives to “save” Florence from the tourists is to educate them. The campaign #EnjoyRespectFirenze aims at establishing norms of behavior at public spaces in the city. There are simple things like: do not litter public areas, or do not sit and consume food and drink on the steps of monuments and churches, don’t immerse yourself in fountains and don’t climb on monuments.

#EnjoyRespectFirenze is the campaign for responsible tourism in Florence! Respect the cultural and historical heritage of Florence, so that everybody can enjoy it!Click To Tweet

I know, these would sound quite ridiculous for someone with common sense and proper upbringing and it’s sad that the average tourist of the 21st century needs to be told not to do those things. However, I believe that every and each initiative counts and that educating people is the foundation for any progress. So, when visiting Florence, no matter whether for a few hours or for a few days, please, respect the city so that not only you, but its citizens and the generations after you can still enjoy it.

Moreover, this is not only valid for Florence but for every single place you visit – just treat it with respect and do not contribute to its destruction.

The full text of the new 10 commandments for visiting Florence can be found on the official tourist website of Florence.


Things to do and see in one day in Florence

Visit a museum

Being only one day in Florence, you won’t be able to properly visit more than one museum, so you have to choose which one it will be. For me it had to be the Uffizi. I had to see all those paintings of Botticelli and the other Renaissance masters, I remember from the glossy pages of the books in art history I was paging through in my teenage years when dreaming of travelling to Florence.

The Uffizi

The building itself is a masterpiece designed by no other but Giorgio Vasari. It was meant as an office building, hence the name Uffizi, which translated from Italian means “Offices”. The construction of the building was finished in 1581. After the decline of the Medici dynasty, who were great patrons of art, all artworks collected by the family were left to the city of Florence in 1737. In 1769 the Uffizi opened for the public showcasing some of the finest examples of the Italian Renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio) together with Gothic art and paintings of the Dutch and Flemish Masters.

Tip: Buy your ticket for Uffizi online to skip the lines, but be aware, it comes with a price tag. Currently, you pay 4 EUR extra when booking online.


Pitti Palace and Boboli Garden

Most of the tourists don’t make it to the other side of the Arno River (Oltrarno), but this neighbourhood in Florence has its own charms. It was considered a kind of low quality place until 1550 when the Medici family bought the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti) and made it their home. Today, Pitti Palace is a museum offering a few exhibitions: Palatine Gallery and the Royal Apartments (Galleria Palatina e Appartamenti Reali), Gallery of Modern Art (Galleria d’Arte Moderna), Treasury of the Grand Dukes (Tesoro dei Granduchi) and Museum of Costume and Fashion (Museo della Moda e del Costume).

Pitti Palace in Florence

Today, the Boboli Gardens are the biggest public garden in Florence, but until 1766 it belonged to the Pitti Palace as Medici’s gardens. The park was a trend-setter in the 16th century with its stylized beauty and served as a model and inspiration for the design of many gardens and parks in Italy and Europe’s court of that time. Walking through the gardens is refreshing and they aren’t that touristy. You will be also rewarded with some beautiful views of Florence. We loved the Boboli Gardens!

a gate with statues and a street up a hill with with a lot of green on both sides in a park, Boboli Garden in Florence

The Boboli Garden in Florence

The lovely Boboli Garden – absolutely worth to take a walk there.

Neptunes Cave at Boboli Garden

You can buy a combination ticket for the Uffizi Museum, the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Garden, which is valid for 72 hours and grants priority access. This could be a great option if you are staying longer in Florence, but as we spent only a day there, we chose to visit only the Uffizi and the Boboli gardens.


Pitti Palace and Florence

Have a walk around and discover Florence

The best way to discover Florence is by walking around and letting yourself get lost in this beautiful city. The whole historic centre of Florence is a masterpiece and is included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

roof-tops view with houses and a cathedral dome with a bell tower and some hills behind them, view of Florence in Italy

View from Pitti Palace in Florence

From the Pitti Palace you have those beautiful sneak-peeks of Florence with the Brunelleschi’s Dome and the hilly Tuscan landscape behind it.

Here you can read about our itinerary along the most famous landmarks in Florence. We started from Boboli Garden and made further our way to Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio was built in 1345 and is the only bridge over the Arno River that survived WW2. Early versions of the famous bridge that is one of Florence’s symbols, date back to the 12th and even the 10th centuries. On both sides of the bridge there are hanging shops. Since 1593 there are allowed only goldsmiths and jewelers, as the old butchers and blacksmiths were making a lot of noise and littering the place.

river Arno in Italy at Florence with a bridge and houses on one river bank

View from Ponte Vecchio in Florence

View from Ponte Vecchio to the Arno River and Lungarno – one of the river bank boulevards in Florence.

Vasari’s Corridor

The arched passageway that you see above the bridge is a part of the Vasari’s Corridor – a covered passageway that connects Pitti Palace with the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio. The Medici ordered this “corridor” so that they could walk from the Pitti Palace to Palazzo Vecchio without meeting any commoners on their way.

Ponte Vechio in Florence

Piazza della Signoria

From Ponte Vecchio you just pop at Piazza della Signoria – the most famous square in Florence which is a kind of an open-air museum with statues. At the Loggia dei Lanzi you can see the Perseus of Cellini and The Rape of the Sabine Women of Giambologna. The square is dominated by Palazzo Vecchio – the Town Hall of Florence and its clock tower.


a few statues in different poses under a roof in an open area, Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence

The Rape of the Sabine Women of Giambologna

The Rape of the Sabine Women of the Renaissance sculptor Giambologna at Loggia dei Lanzi. Giambologna (Jean du Boulogne) was a Flemish sculptor (1529-1623) who lived and worked in Italy.

Perseus of Cellini

 

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

 

Palazzo Vecchio in the afternoon

In front of the Palazzo Vecchio there is a copy of Michelangelo’s masterpiece – David. The original that stood on this place until 1873, is to be seen in the Galleria dell’ Accademia. To the right of Plazzo Vecchio is the beautiful Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannanti. The lion in front of Palazzo Vecchio is the official symbol of Florence – the Marzocco. This statue is a copy of Donatello’s lion, which is exhibited today in the Bargello museum. The equestrian monument at the square is of Cosimo I – the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, made by Giambologna.

Fountain of Neptune on Piazza della Signoria

 

Piazza della Signoria in Florence

Tip: Go back to Piazza della Signoria, to see it at different day light. In the late afternoon the whole Palazzo Vecchio is lit by the setting sun – great for taking pictures!


Il Duomo, Campanille and Battistero

After Piazza della Signoria head to the other highlight of Florence – Piazza del Duomo with the famous Cathedral of Florence (Il Duomo). Yep, it is as beautiful as on all those pictures and even more! And yep, the crowd flocking to admire it and take a picture is also that immense. So, if you can appreciate the place being able to ignore the crowd, you will love it. Otherwise, you will hate it. Take a glimpse and leave.

beautiful buildings of white, rose and green marmor, the cathedral complex in Florence

The Cathedral Complex in Florence

The Baptistery, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, the Dome of Brunelleschi and the Bell Tower of Giotto – aren’t they simply amazing?

The Cathedral of Florence (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) has a mesmerizing and overwhelming beauty. If you can judge for the megalomaniac grandeur and prosperity of a place by the architecture of the time, Tuscany, and Florence in particular, were world leaders in the 13th-15th century. Otherwise, why would you build the biggest cathedral ever? Well, it was overshadowed later by St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It took almost 150 years to finish this masterpiece (1296 – 1436). The Dome of the Cathedral is designed by Brunelleschi – an absolute architectural masterpiece, and the frescoes inside are by Giorgio Vasari.

Facade of the Cathedral in Florence

Next to the cathedral there’s another Renaissance masterpiece – the Bell Tower (Il Campanile) designed by no other than Giotto and finished by Andrea Pisano after Giotto’s death.

The Bell Tower in Florence

Opposite the cathedral is the Baptistery of San Giovani (Il Battistero) with the famous Gates of Paradise (the East Door) – designed and made by Ghiberti and his assistants.

Gates of Paradise on the Baptistery

We didn’t have time to visit neither the cathedral, nor the bell tower, but if you are staying longer than a day in Florence, you can do it and I am sure that from the top of the cathedral’s dome or the bell tower you would have the most amazing views of Florence. Alternatively, if you are not into museums, you can skip the Uffizi and then you’ll have time for Il Duomo ant its Campanile.

Tip: Planning to visit the cathedral complex? Then you should buy a combination ticket that will grant you access to the Cathedral, the Dome, the Bell Tower, the Baptistery, the Crypt and as a bonus to the Museo dell’ Opera (Great Museum of the Cathedral).


Piazza della Santissima Annunziata

After Piazza del Duomo head to Piazza della Santissima Annunziata via Via dei Servi. Piazza della Santissima Annunziata is perhaps the most symmetrical square in Florence with the porticoed buildings of the Spedalle degli Innocenti (the orphanage designed by Brunelleschi) to the left, the Loggia dei Servi di Maria (today a hotel) to the right and the Church of the Santissima Annuziata at the bottom.

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata in Florence

The equestrian statue on the square is the last work of Giambologna and represents Ferdinando I de’ Medici – Grand Duke of Tuscany. Giambologna’s work was finished by his student Peitro Tacca, who has also designed the two fountains on the square – Fontane dei Mostri Marini.

Fontane dei Mostri Marini in Florence

Piazza di San Marco, San Marco and Galleria dell’ Accademia

Leave Piazza della Santissima Annuziata and head to Piazza di San Marco following Via Cesare Battisti.

This is the square that hosts the famous Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and its Gallery. This is the oldest art school in the world founded in 1563 by the Medici. The square is named after the convent and the church of San Marco. San Marco functions as a museum today and you can see frescoes from Fra Angelico inside. The monument on the square is of General Manfredo Fanti (1806-1865) – important figure from the time unification of Italy (1815-1871).

Piazza di San Marco

It’s in the Galleria dell’ Accademiawhere you can see the original statue of David by Michelangelo. We didn’t visit this museum as we were staying only for day in Florence.


Piazza di Santa Croce, Santa Croce, Dante Statue and Pazzi Chapel

After San Marco head to the other end of the historic centre of FlorencePiazza di Santa Croce. There you can admire the beautiful Basilica di Santa Croce. It’s also known as the Temple of Italian Glories, as many famous Italians like Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini are buried there.

Facade of Santa Croce in Florence


In front of the basilica there is the Statue of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) – the greatest poet of the Italian Renaissance, who wrote his major work Comedy (Divine Comedy) in the vernacular instead of in the Latin language used for literary works those days, thus laying the foundations of the modern Italian language. The statue was built in 1865 by Enrico Pazzi.

Statue of Dante Alighieri in Florence

Adjacent to the Basilica is another masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance architecture – the Pazzi Chapel. It was designed by Brunelleschi and built in 1443.

Pazzi Chapel in Florence

Bargello and Casa di Dante

From Piazza di Santa Croce we headed back west to Piazza della Signoria and got lost in all the streets and alleys in the heart of Florence. Do not miss to walk past the Bargello – another famous museum in Florence.  Close to the Bargello is located the house where Dante had supposedly lived. Today, it’s a museum dedicated to Dante’s life and works.

Barghello Museum in Florence

Casa di Dante Museum in Florence

Piazza di Santa Trinita

We ended our tour on this side of the Arno River at Piazza di Santa Trinita with the Church of Santa Trinita. The column in the middle of the square comes originally from the Baths of Carcalla (Ancient Rome) and it took more than a year to be transported from Rome to Florence. It was erected on the square in 1565. The statue on the top of the column is carved out of porphyry. It took Francesco del Tadda 11 years to make it.

Piazza di Santa Trinita in Florence

a tall column with a statue on top of it on a city square, Piazza di Santa Trinita with the Roman Column

The Roman Column on Piazza di Santa Trinita

The Column of Justice has its name because of the statue of Justice on top of it.

Ponte Santa Trinita

We crossed the Arno River at Ponte Santa Trinita. From this bridge you have beautiful views to Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River. If you are there at sunset, you won’t regret it.

Ponte Vecchio at sunset

Ponte Vecchio and Oltrarno

Piazza di Santo Spirito

Our last stop in Florence before heading back to San Gimignano where we were staying, was Piazza di Santo Spirito. It is a lovely square where you can take a break and relax and enjoy the authentic Florence that is not the “open-air museum”. The church of Santo Spirito at one end of the square was the last work of Brunelleschi and it was finished after his death.

Piazza di Santo Spirito at Oltrarno

Road Signs Art in Florence

When walking around in Florence keep your eyes open and you can spot those whimsical road signs. Before I visited Florence I didn’t know anything about them, but I was surprised each time I saw one for the wittiness behind it. Later I read that they are made by the French artist CLET (Anacleto Clet Abraham), who lives in Florence. Here you can read an interesting interview with him I found on the Visit Tuscany website.

Clet Street Sign Art in Florence

Wasn’t that the perfect day in Florence? I know that 24 hours aren’t enough, but I hope this itinerary will help you see the highlights of Florence in one day. What are your favorite things to do and see in Florence? Share them with us in the comments below! Do you have other suggestions? I would love to hear from you, just leave a comment below.

Nver been before to Florence? Pin this for later!

view of Florence in Italy, one-day itinerary in Florence

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10 comments

Annie Soul 21st April 2018 - 7:21 pm

Excellent itinerary, thanks for sharing. Seems there is plenty to see and do, I can understand why more than one day would make sense, especially to have an opportunity to take in the place pre and post cruisers.

Reply
Kristine 21st April 2018 - 6:12 pm

Was peeking at the crowd levels through your photos; Florence definitely looked crowded at the square! It’s been a few years since I went, I still have a lot of fond memories of this beautiful city and its sunsets…

Reply
ipanematravels 22nd April 2018 - 1:19 am

Yep, the crowds are immense but I think that one can still enjoy a place beyond the crowds if the place is worth it and Florence is for sure one of those places.

Reply
Zoe | Together In Transit 21st April 2018 - 10:57 am

Such a beautiful city! I plan to visit for a weekend this year and will definitely adapt to the #EnjoyRespectFirenze

Reply
ipanematravels 21st April 2018 - 12:49 pm

Have a great time there, Zoe! (kind of envy as I love so much Florence…)

Reply
Constance 21st April 2018 - 7:15 am

Wow your photos of all the sights in Florence are amazing! It’s definitely on our list to go here someday, especially the Duomo. Going to pin this for later so I can come back to it!

Reply
ipanematravels 21st April 2018 - 12:51 pm

The city itself is amazing! I hope you’ll make it Florence one day.

Reply
Nathalie 21st April 2018 - 5:41 am

geez, I really need to get back to Italy and visit Firenze💕 thank you so much for bringing to our attention the need to respect the places we visit and remind us of common sense -treat others like you wish to be treated 🙏

Reply
Taru 21st April 2018 - 3:42 am

What a great writing & pictures Daniela – as always 🙂 Hope to see you sometime soon again! ps. cool info about the road signs!!

Reply
ipanematravels 21st April 2018 - 12:52 pm

Thank you Taru! So sweet of you! I’m sure we’ll have the chance to have another beer together soon 🙂

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