One thing is certain - you won’t be stuck for things to do in Renaissance City. There are enough art galleries, museums, churches, cloisters, chapels, monuments and gardens to keep you busy for weeks, and that’s just the cultural stuff. I offer no apology for the fact that my list is dominated by art: Florence is one of Europe’s premier art cities and you simply can’t avoid it. You can, however, mix it with other things. Here are my tips for getting the most out of your stay:
Even the most energetic art buff needs a break, and most of us need more break than art. So make time for coffee, a leisurely lunch, maybe a little retail therapy and a bit of wandering. You’ll get more out of the museums if you’re not saturated.
Mix it up
Mix the must-sees with some of the lesser-known attractions. There was no room to list them here, but little visited gems such as Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper in the convent of Ognissanti, the church of Santa Trinità and the Ospedale degli Innocenti are magical places.
Plan the timing of your visits carefully; museums tend to close on a Monday and quite a few are only open in the mornings. Most are closed on the following public holidays: 1 Jan, 1 May, 15 Aug, 25 and 26 Dec.
Book in advance
I would strongly advise you to book the following well in advance; the Uffizi and the Accademia all year and the Palatina gallery and the Museo di San Marco in high season. Call 055 294883; the 3-4 euro booking fee is well worth it.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
More than half the places on my list I felt were non-negotiable, but I tried to play around a bit with the others and break up the major players with some lighter-weight suggestions such as the Boboli Gardens, a walk around lovely Piazza Santo Spirito and a visit to the eccentric La Specola museum. Kids have a hard time in Florence, but I’ve included several places where hopefully they won’t be bored out of their little minds, and if desperate, there’s always gelato.