There are only 9 absolute musts, but thousands of other reasons to Florence
ONE: The view from San Miniato al Monte
Let everybody else stop at Piazzale Michelangelo for the view over the city. While a very good spot for the pics, it is basically an over-crowded parking. Go uphill, Via delle Porte Sante, to San Miniato al Monte. This is the church with the most beautiful view in the world.
TWO: THE ROOFTOPS OF FLORENCE
Flirence has a magical skyline to dream on to. The miraculous dome of the Duomo, the unmistakable tower of the Signoria, the tiled rooftops, the marbled facades and the Rennaissance palazzi create an immersive feeling that becomes the city copyright. At your hotel, ask for a room at a superior floor or a penthouse. Have a late breakast on the terrace. Dine with a view.
Catch the colors of the Duomo at sunset. But be aware of the closing times to be sure you went up the campanile before that. I am a lazy person, but I find the Campanile di Giotto worth the effort (414 stairs). And that is an under statement. The view of the Bruneleschi’s dome from the nearby tower of the campanile is a wonder of the world.
Ponte Vecchio is famous for the sunset show, street concerts inluded. A trully wonderful afternoon escape is Fiesole, the village overlooking Florence from a neighboring hilltop.
THREE Piazza della Signoria. Try it off-off season or at night or early morning, when it’s not that crowded. Visit the Palazzo Vecchio, the most beautiful city hall in the world – and especially the Salone dei Cinquecento and the Medici’s Hall of Maps. Spend some time in the Loggia dei Lanzi to admire the sculptures and maybe even catch a street concert in the evening.
FOUR Orsanmichele, the incredible not-so-much-church-looking church and museum. The unusual name of this unusual church comes from the Tuscan compression of “orto San Michele”, the vegetable garden of the very old (about 750) San Michele monastery. The present building was originally built as a grain market in 1337, and it was converted into a church used as the chapel of Florence’s powerful craft and trade guilds, while the floor was used for the guilds’offices.
FIVE The palazzi of the noble families. Palazzo Medici is the thing to see, together with the hidden Capella dei Magi. See also Palazzo Strozzi in the heart of the city, but do cross the river to Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens.
SIX The Uffizi Gallery and the secret Vasari Corridor. By prior reservation only, when visiting the Uffizi. You know about it from Dan Brown’s Inferno.
SEVEN The Battistero and the divine Porta del Paradiso by Ghiberti
EIGHT Florence in style. This is not arrogance, it’s art. Firenze is for palazzi, walking and shopping on Via Tornabuoni, Bargello exhibits, the Medici and the wonders of the Renaissance; just splurge. It’s the place to live like an aristo.
NINE Florence at night