Museums and Sights in Florence

Facciata del Duomo di Firenze
Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Bell Tower (photo courtesy of the Opera del Duomo).

Amici degli Uffizi

The Amici degli Uffizi (Friends of the Uffizi) pass is one of the best deals in Florence. Included in one annual payment are unlimited trips to any of the 23 state-run museums, including the Medici villas. An adult pass costs € 60; family of two adults and two children under 18 years of age € 100; students and people up to 26 years of age € 40.

Uffizi Gallery

Piazzale degli Uffizi
Admission: €6.50 if there are no exhibitions
Open Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 am – 6:50 pm.

The Uffizi Gallery is home to one of the most important artwork collections in the world. The Uffizi was designed by Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as administrative and judicial offices, “uffici” in Italian. The Uffizi is now known for its comprehensive collection of Italian Gothic, Renaissance and Mannerist masterpieces. Famous works include Botticelli’s La Primavera (1477) and The Adoration of the Magi (1475). In addition to crucifixes by Cimabue and Giotto, on display are Fra Filippo Lippi’s Madonna with Child and Two Angels (1465), Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538), and a Raphael Madonna (1507). The Uffizi’s new foreign painters section displays paintings by illustrious non-Italians such as Goya, Velasquez, Van Dyck, El Greco, Rembrandt and Rubens.

Accademia Gallery

Via Ricasoli 60
Admission: €6.50 if there no exhibitions
Tuesday-Sunday 8:15 am – 6:50 pm

The Accademia Gallery is best known for its collection of sculptures by Michelangelo, most notably his masterpiece, David (1504). The magnificent statue is displayed within a grand rotunda crowned by a sky-lit dome. Other works on site include St. Matthew and the unfinished Four Prisoners, which were originally commissioned for the mausoleum of Pope Julius II. On the Accademia’s walls are Italian paintings from the 13th to the 16th centuries.

Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo)

Piazza del Duomo
Free admission
Monday-Wednesday & Friday 10 am – 5 pm; Thursday 10 – 4 pm; Saturday closing at 4:45 pm; Sundays: 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm.
Belltower: €6
8:30 am – 7:30 pm

Brunelleschi’s Dome: €8
8:30 am – 7 pm; Saturday 8:30 am – 5:45 pm; closed Sunday
Special combo prices and reservations

A 24-hour ticket for 10 euro allows entrance to the Belltower, Dome, Baptistery and the Cathedral Museum.
Left without a marble façade until the 19th century, the construction of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) was begun in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio and completed in 1436. The neo-Gothic exterior is adorned with brightly colored marble displaying dazzling, geometric patterns. The famous Cupola (dome), a revolutionary design by Brunelleschi, soars in the air without conventional supports. The top of the Cupola’s 463-step ascent provides a spectacular panorama of Florence and the surrounding countryside. Giotto designed the Campanile (bell tower), which can also be climbed for views of the city and the Cupola.

Palazzo Pitti

Piazza Pitti 1
Cumulative ticket for the Palatine and Modern Art galleries: €8,50; €13 when there are special exhibitions
Open Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 am – 6:50 pm.

There is nothing small about Palazzo Pitti—the massive 16th century palace contains a number of important museums. The Italian nobleman Luca Pitti, started to build the palazzo in 1440, but as a Medici rival, he was forced into bankruptcy and could no longer finance its construction. The Medici then gave the commission to the architect Ammannati, who completed the grandiose complex in 1550.

Since the Medici established Palazzo Pitti as their primary residence, the Grand Dukes of Tuscany lived there until Anna Maria Luisa, the last of the Medici, donated it to Florence. Today the quarters exhibit treasures from the Medici collection and the Hapsburg-Lorraine court that ruled Florence following the Medici. Pitti’s most famous museum, the Palatine Gallery, is well known for its masterpieces, including an exceptional number of Raphaels. The Modern Art Gallery is the setting for 19th and early 20th century paintings, mainly Italian. The Costume Gallery hosts rotating exhibitions of historical and modern clothing and accessories.

Boboli Gardens

Piazza Pitti
Cumulative ticket to the Boboli & Bardini garden, Costume Gallery, Silver and Porcelain museums: €7 unless there are special exhibitions.
Open daily at 8:15 am; shut the first and the last Monday each month. Closing depends on the season, but the earliest at 4:30 pm.

Spread out behind Palazzo Pitti are the splendid Boboli Gardens, with formal landscaping designed by Renaissance and Mannerist architects. Also an outdoor museum, the Boboli features numerous statues and sculptures. La Grotta Grande by Buontalenti is an alcove providing a refreshing escape from the heat, decorated with frescoes. Copies of Michelangelo’s Prisoners and Giambologna’s Bathing Venus are found there. The Boboli Gardens connect to the adjacent Bardini garden, which sweeps dramatically up an Oltrarno hillside just to the east, providing an opportunity for visitors to extend their morning or afternoon stroll with the same admission ticket.

The garden contains historical elements from the original orchard, formal landscaping from the Baroque period and an English garden. One can wander through the grove of traditional Tuscan fruit trees, pass under pergolas entwined with roses and up through a magnificent arbor of wisteria lined with hydrangeas, with Florence at your feet.

Since Florence is home to more than 60 museums, there will be a rotating selection of descriptions.