Places to visit in Florence
Many of the one and a half million passengers passing through Florence Airport each year are coming to see the captivating sights and attractions in this beautiful region of Tuscany, Italy. Florence is Tuscany’s capital city, and is built around the River Arno, which can be crossed at a few points over bridges. The Ponte Vecchio is one of these bridges, and is an important landmark in Florence. Florence is simply brimming with Renaissance art and architecture, with buildings such as the Duomo dominating the city’s skyline. It is definitely an art lover’s playground. There are many fascinating museums and galleries with magnificent collections of masterpieces and artifacts, and a phenomenal number of interesting religious buildings to be admired. Florence Airport is also known as Amerigo Vespucci Airport, or Peretola Airport, and is one of the two major airports which serve this area of Italy, second only to Pisa International Airport (Galileo Galilei Airport).
Tourists can explore Florence on their own, or use the services of bus or walking tours. The guided bus tours depart from the bus station nearby the Santa Maria Novella Railway Station. There are English speaking guides available, and time is allowed to walk around the main attraction areas. Walking tours are quite popular in Florence, as around every corner there is another spectacular building to admire. These tours usually last for around three hours, starting from the Santa Maria Novella Railway Station, and take you to many of Florence’s most fascinating sights. You will end the tour at the Piazza della Repubblica. The Central Train Station is actually an attraction in itself, as it features a large atrium covered by a glass cascade, and is considered to be one of Italy’s most important buildings in terms of modern architecture. It is named as such because it is located right outside the magnificent Santa Maria Novella church, which is perhaps the most important Gothic church in Tuscany. Some of its features include frescoes created by Ghirlandaio, and a Giotto crucifix in the sacristy.
The Palazzo Vecchio, or Old Palace, is a building which serves as Florence’s town hall, and was built in 1322. It features an impressive bell tower, and still maintains a fairly medieval appearance. Another popular area of Florence is the Piazza del Signoria. There are many striking statues here in the outdoor sculpture gallery. Many consider this area to be the cultural center of Florence. A magnificent building not to be missed is the Palazzo Strozzi. This is a huge palace with three floors, and each floor is as high as a normal palazzo. Construction for this building began in 1489, and was finally completed in 1536. To make way for this impressive palace, fifteen buildings were demolished. The most important concert hall in Florence is called the Teatro Comunale, or the City Theatre, and it’s main theater area can seat around 2,000 people. It is still used today for many operas, festivals, concerts and events throughout the year, one of which is the famous Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Other impressive buildings in Florence include the Palazzo Pitti, or Giardini di Boboli, a huge palace featuring some superb art pieces by famous artists, the Palazzo dei Congressi, an exhibition and conference center, and the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, a town mansion with a famous classical Renaissance façade.
The museums in Florence are numerous, and guaranteed to keep you fascinated for many hours. In particular, the Museo Archeologico, or the National Archeological Museum, is worth a visit. Its exhibits include an amazing collection of artifacts from various countries, such as Egypt, Greece and Rome. The museum was built in 1620, and has displayed its outstanding collections for more than one hundred years. There is an entrance fee to see the museum, but it is free for everyone younger than eighteen years of age, senior citizens, teachers and students. It is open from Monday to Saturday, from 09:00 to 14:00, and on Sundays from 09:00 to 13:00. The Science Museum is another fascinating Florence attraction which houses more than 5,000 exhibits. These are all original pieces of various scientific devices and instruments which were used from 1583 until the mid 18th century. There is an admission charge for this museum, but is free for children under the age of six. The Museo e Istituto di Preistoria ‘Paolo Graziosi’ is a great place to view and understand how our distant ancestors lived, hunted and farmed. Its exhibits include botanical specimens, pottery and stone instruments, and is located in the Town Hall of the Oblates.
Other museums in Florence are the Casa di Dante, one of the most famous and admired monuments in Florence, the Museo Richard Ginori della Manifattura di Doccia, the Museo di Antropologia, situated in the Palazzo Nonfinito, the Museo Bardini, the Museo Horne and the Bargello Museum, which was originally used as the headquarters for the police and for a prison building.
Florence is also famous for its enormous number of beautiful religious buildings. Perhaps the most famous is the Duomo, or Santa Maria del Fiore. It is also known as the Cathedral of Florence , and is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It is Florence’s tallest building, and one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The cathedral was designed in 1359, and features an enormous dome, of which the top can be reached by 463 steps. Since it is the highest structure in Florence, one can expect the most panoramic views from this point. Other features of the cathedral are a cavernous interior, detailed ceiling mosaics and stained-glass windows. Other church buildings in Florence include the Basilica di San Lorenzo, Basilica di Santa Croce, Capella Brancacci, Capella Medicee and the Chiesa Santa Maria del Carmine.
Attractions nearby Florence include the beautiful city of Fiesole, featuring winding streets and peaceful picnic areas, the Medici Villas, with the fine Villa della Petraia, the Mugello Region, and Prato, a walled and ancient city which still has several palaces, castles and cathedrals, and is today one of Italy’s major textile producers.
Passengers arriving at Florence can find out more information about Florence and its surrounding areas from the tourist information point located in the Arrivals terminal.