48 hours in Florence

Florence, the capital city of the Tuscany region, is located towards the north of central Italy. It is considered the historical, economic, artistic and administrative center of Tuscany. It was also the capital of Italy during the Unification of the country between 1865 and 1871.

In the mid-fourteenth century, during the Renaissance, the artistic movement of this urban center originated; it is considered the cradle of art and architecture worldwide. It had its splendor after the rule of the Medici, with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Therefore, in the city of Florence many works of the medieval and Renaissance period stand out; among them the Dome of the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Basilica of Santa Croce, as well as museums and galleries such as the Uffizi, the Galleria dell’Accademia, among others. The historic center of the city was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982.

Outline of the itinerary you can have in 2 days in Florence:

The city of Florence has the advantage that you can visit it in 2 days, since almost everything is very close between one monument and another. So, for the 1st day we suggest that, once you arrive at the hotel, try to take a walk through the historic center of the city, and visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella; then you can continue to the Accademia Gallery and finish in Piazza Michelangelo, to enjoy the sunset.

Then, for the 2nd day, you can go to Piazza del Duomo to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, with the dome of Brunelleschi, the famous bell tower and the baptistery. Afterwards, continue to Piazza della Signoria, to visit the Uffizi Gallery, as well as the Ponte Vecchio and finish at the Pitti Palace with the Boboli Gardens. Let’s see this route step by step.

1st day to get to know the city of Florence:

The first thing to do when you arrive in Florence is to go to the hotel you have booked to leave your luggage. We recommend the Hotel Novella House, as it has a privileged location: in the heart of the city center and 5 minutes from the train station of the same name. In addition, the hotel has fully equipped apartments or rooms. Another advantage is that it is very close to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, 600 m away, and 10 minutes from the Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria.

Already installed we started the tour of the historic center of Florence, to head towards the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, as it is considered one of the most important and is located to the northwest of Piazza Novella. It is characterized by a facade of marble pieces from the Renaissance period. 

We continue the tour to the Accademia Gallery, 1 km away from the previous Basilica, where the famous David by Michelangelo is located; but there are also other of his works, some in rough marble, that is, in the block, and others already taking some form. It is important to try to make a reservation in advance, to avoid queues.

Now we continue to Michelangelo Square; for this we take the bus to St. Mark’s Square, which is located at the end of the street of the Accademia Gallery; we recommend taking the bus especially in summer, as this walk would be too strong because of the heat.

Then we take another bus to Piazza Veccaria and again take another bus line 12 or 13 to our destination: Piazza Michelangelo. This way we would arrive at the exact time to enjoy the sunset, which is a spectacle that, experts say, should not be missed in a 2-day visit to Florence. 

NOTE: Florence has guided tours for 1 day, including in English, and they usually take you to the most important sights of the city; in addition, they have tickets to visit the Galleries without queues. 

2nd day to explore the city of Florence:

We started our 2nd day visiting the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known by the names of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Dome of the Duomo of Florence and the Dome of Filippo Brunelleschi. Located in Piazza del Duomo, next to the Bell Tower and the Baptistery of St. John, where baptisms are administered. 

This is said to be one of the most extensive churches in the world, with its Gothic and Italian Renaissance art, representing both the power and wealth of the 13th and 14th century Tuscan region. 

The entrance to the church is free; however, to go up to the viewpoint of the dome and enjoy this wonderful view you have to pay. To get there you have to climb 463 steps and narrow corridors; not recommended for people who suffer from claustrophobia.

Next to the church we have Giotto’s bell tower structure, with 414 steps and 84m high, and in front of the Cathedral the Baptistery of St. John by the famous Ghiberti. Its fame is due, according to legend, to the fact that they are the Gates of Paradise, made of bronze. Although it is said that these are not the originals, which remain in the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, in a glass case. 

Once we have finished this tour we headed towards the Piazza della Signoria or Piazza della Signoria, which is located at the level of Piazza della Repubblica; about 300 m from the famous Rinacente Firenze. A square that has been the center of administrative and political power of the city.

There you can visit the Palazzo Vecchio or Palazzo Vecchio, currently the Town Hall; you will also find in this square a copy of Michelangelo’s David, the Fountain of Neptune, the Uffizi Gallery and the Loggia dei Lanzi. 

The latter is a small gallery on certain sculptures and in the open air, the best known work being that of Perseus, with the head of Medusa; but you will also find the sculptures of the Mercury by Benvenuto Cellini and the Rape of the Sabine Women. 

Next to Piazza della Signoria is the Uffizi Gallery, which is both a palace and a museum, with the oldest art collections in the world, such as The Venus of Urbino by Titian, The Spring and Birth of Venus by Botticelli, The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, The Diptych of the Duke of Urbino by Piero della Francesca or the Bacchus by Caravaggio.

Now, after so much sightseeing, you will surely want to try some of the gastronomy of the region, in addition to wanting to rest a little. Then, you cannot miss the famous Central Market of Florence, located behind the Piazza della Signoria, which dates back to 1874 with the International Agricultural Exhibition. This market has 2 different physical spaces: 

  • A covered market, which is a 2-story building. The lower floor sells typical products of the region, such as cheese, oil, olives, sausages, pasta, among others. The upper part is a space with tables to taste the gourmet food.
  • And right next to this building we have the open central market, also called the San Lorenzo Market, the Porcellino Market or the Straw Market. This is made up of many small stores where you can get clothes, leather accessories, some handicrafts, oil cruets, salad bowls, purses, bags, coats and many souvenirs. 

We continue our tour to the Ponte Vecchio or Ponte Vecchio, which is located about 150 m from the Straw Market or Porcellino, and survived World War II. This bridge connects the Oltramo district with Piazza della Signoria, a building dating back to 1345, over the narrowest part of the Arno River. On the first floor there are stores of goldsmiths, gifts, perfumes, among others.

Once we crossed the bridge we ended this 48 hour tour of the city of Florence at the Pitti Palace and the beautiful Boboli Gardens, located about 350 m from the Ponte Vecchio. In 1550 the Medici family bought this palace, but it is from 1766 that it was opened to the public. We are talking about 45,000 square meters. 

There you will see fountains, grottoes, a small lake, many marble statues and, at garden level, the ancient amphitheater with an Egyptian obelisk that was brought from the Villa dei Medici in Rome.

Posted in Europe, Florence, Italy.