72 hours in Florence – must sees and hidden gems
The cradle of Renaissance, Florence is a dream destination for travellers interested in architecture, arts, history, good food and fine wines. Some argue that this city is so complex that you may spend all your life trying to know its secrets and still be surprised at every crossroad. However, you can decode some of Florence’s mysteries in just 72 hours, if you plan your trip ahead.
A central accommodation will enable you to walk easily between monuments and sense the Florentine atmosphere completely. There are a lot of apartments for rent in picturesque buildings, which will make you feel like a native. The neighborhood surrounding Basilica di San Lorenzo/Cappelle Medicee is quiet, but close enough to all the attractions. You can start your tour from there, after buying a special tourist card that will enable you to enter all the museums without waiting in line. The queues are colossal, especially during the weekends, so make sure you save that precious time.
After visiting Basilica di San Lorenzo, one of Michelangelo’s architectural masterpieces, you may go directly to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and climb the stairs to the Dome. Brunelleschi’s ingenious wonder attracts millions of tourists every year and although the climbing is toilsome, the view above Florence is breathtaking. Then, you can take a walk on Via de’ Tornabuoni, where you will find all the great Italian designers’ shops and arrive to Ponte Santa Trinita – just pass the bridge and there it is: Gelateria Santa Trinita – for a short and pleasant refreshment.
For lunchtime or dinner time you can choose one of the many osterias or trattorias serving traditional food, such as Bistecca alla Fiorentina – a very thick steak that always comes with a bone – or Baccala alla Fiorentina – a savory combination of fish, tomatoes, onions and rosemary.
Walk on Ponte Vecchio at sunset and enjoy the stirring atmosphere as the sun goes down.
You can start the day by visiting Galleria dell’ Accademia and see Michelangelo’s famous David or go straight to Palazzo Vecchio, in order to visit it leisurely, before the crowds. The old republic’s administrative building and architectural gem represents a visual history lesson, as it epitomizes the quintessential Florentine spirit. After visiting Palazzo Vecchio, you have to check also the Uffizi Galleries for more Renaissance art in one of the first modern museums in the world. The building of Uffizi complex was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici so as to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the name uffizi, “offices”.
You can then reach the Vasari Corridor, an elevated enclosed passageway, which connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti, just above Ponte Vecchio. The secret pass was determined to protect the Medici family members, who rarely were seen in public. Once you arrive at Palazzo Pitti, you can either roam around the beautiful Boboli Gardens or visit the Palace, the official Medici residence after 1549. Most of their possessions are now on display, from precious china and costumes, to works of art and furniture.
On this side of the river, you can try Osteria Santo Spirito for dinner, which is placed in a little and wonderful piazza and serve delicious traditional dishes. At sunset, you can climb to Piazzale Michelangelo and have this spectacular view:
Last day in Florence is always nostalgic as you become aware of all the beautiful places you did not have the time to see. You may spend your time roaming around, searching for souvenirs or serving a last gelato cup at Gelateria La Carraia. There might be time for two other museums, whether you are a fashion enthusiast: Museo Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci Museo, where you can visualize the history of these iconic Florentine brands.
Florence is definitely one of the most beautiful experiences you can have in a lifetime!