If you love history and architecture like us you will fall in love with this beautiful city of Florence. Florence the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region is home to some of the architectural masterpieces from the Renaissance. The city is no less than an open-air museum for Renaissance art and architecture. If you have 2 days in Florence here is a Florence itinerary on how to make the best of your time in the city.
A visit to Florence was part of the Italy road trip from Geneva in Switzerland. It was also our first road trip through Europe. We drove through Verona, Florence, Pisa, Milan and back to Geneva. We also did a day trip to Venice from Verona and Cinque Terre from Florence it was an amazing trip. For more information on our Italy road trip read the post here. Let’s start with the Florence Itinerary for 2 days.
Things to do in Florence in 2 Days – Day 1
Piazza Della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria is a popular square home to some of the important buildings and monuments in Florence. The square is surrounded by Uffizi Gallery, the Palace of the Tribunale della Mercanzia, Palazzo Uguccioni, Palazzo Vecchio and the Assicurazioni Generali.
In the square is the Loggia Dei Lanzi or the Loggia della Signoria which is an open loggia adorned with numerous sculptures, figures and the Corinthian capitals forming the arches.
Right next to the Loggia della Signoria is the Palazzo Vecchio. The fort style Romanesque palace serves as the town hall of the city of Florence. At the entrance of the palace is a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue and the impressive sculpture of Hercules and Cacus by Bandinelli.
Take a walk in the courtyards and apartments of the Palazzo Vecchio decorated with statues, frescoes, grotesque designs, and elaborate artworks. The 15th century Salone Dei Cinquecento is the most imposing part of the palace decorated with rich frescoes and sculptures.
Less than 5 minutes walk from Palazzo Vecchio is the Uffizi Gallery. Uffizi Gallery is one of the largest and prominent art museums in the world. The museum holds some of the most important works of art, especially from the Italian Renaissance era. The outstanding collection consists of paintings some of which dates back to as early as the 14th century.
The entrance to the gallery is limited for given time and hence it is highly recommended you book your tickets in advance. check here for details on open hours and days.
Florence Cathedral or the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the iconic landmark of the historic center of Florence. The 13th-century Gothic cathedral complex consists of the Baptistery, the basilica, and its Campanile. The 19th-century Gothic Revival exterior has an elaborate façade adorned with a mix of pink, white and green marble panels. The interior is decorated with mosaic pavements, rich frescoes, and statues of architects of the cathedral.
The entrance to the cathedral is free. Visitors can rent an audio guide for more detailed information on the cathedral. Visitors can climb to the top of the dome for a closer look at the interior of the dome and for the wonderful panoramic view of the city of Florence. The crypt consists of remains of the 7th-century church of Santa Reparata on which the magnificent cathedral was built. Visitors can also climb the Bell Tower or the Giotto’s Campanile. The top can be reached by climbing 414 steps and rewards with stunning views of the Florence city rooftops along with the magnificent cupola.
Baptistery of St. John located next to the cathedral is one of the oldest monument in Florence and the most important. The baptistery is an octagonal structure with a cupola. While the exterior is decorated with colored marble panels the interior is decorated with beautiful 13th-century mosaics and fine motifs.
Basilica di Santa Croce
The 13th-century Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most beautiful churches in Florence. The cathedral is about 10 minutes walk from the Florence Cathedral. The church features a neo-Gothic marble facade with a bell tower.
The interior of the basilica has 16 chapels decorated with frescoes. The basilica is also the burial place of some of the most important Italian personalities including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Rossini. There is also a monument to Florence Nightingale.
The cathedral closes at 5.30 pm so if you could manage to make it before that time you can cover it on Day 1.
Ponte Vecchio for Sunset
Ponte Vecchio is a medieval arched stone bridge over the Arno River. The bridge is lined with jewelry and souvenir shops. Ponte Vecchio is a popular sunset point in Florence. Enjoy the play of colors over the horizon from the Ponte Vecchio or take a boat ride across the Arno River and snap the postcard-perfect picture of the bridge at sunset.
Interestingly like many other famous bridges across Europe, you will find an array of lovelocks affixed to Ponte Vecchio too. But make note that it is not approved by the local authorities and if caught you could be fined for 160€.
Republic Square or Piazza della Repubblica
Republic Square or Piazza della Repubblica is one of the main squares in Florence. The square is surrounded by important historical buildings and cafes and is a popular meeting place for the locals. At the site where once the Roman forum stood today stands the Colonna della Dovizia or Column of Abundance.
If you walk further to the south of the square there is a huge leather market called Loggia del Mercato Nuovo. The market is housed in a 16th-century loggia. The loggia is adorned with statues of famous personalities Michele di Lando, Giovanni Villani, and Bernardo Cennini.
The market is also popularly known as the Loggia del Porcellino for the bronze boar fountain on the south side of Mercato Nuovo. It is believed that if one puts a coin into the boar’s mouth and then rubs his nose they are sure to return to Florence again.
Things to do in Florence in 2 Days – Day 2
Galleria dell’ Accademia
Art lovers wouldn’t want to miss a visit to the Galleria dell’ Accademia of Florence. Galleria dell’ Accademia or Gallery of the Academy of Florence is an art museum in Florence home to the most famous Michelangelo’s David sculpture, the original one. The gallery also has a wonderful collection of other sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings from the 13th and 16th centuries by great Italian artists and Florentine Gothic paintings.
Again to escape the long queues and save time it is recommended you book your tickets online. You can also book a guided tour of the gallery for a detailed insight of the masterpieces.http://www.accademia.org/explore-museum/artworks/
Cross the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River to the other side of the bridge known as the Oltrarno. The neighborhood of Oltrarno is known for art galleries, gardens, historic palaces, and churches.
The Palazzo Pitti
The city of Florence is teeming museums and galleries with rich artwork and world-famous masterpieces and Pitti Palace is yet another haven for the art lovers. The gallery is housed in the 15th century Renaissance palace which once belonged to Luca Pitti, a Florentine banker.
Palazzo Pitti or Pitti Palace consists of several galleries and museums. Palatine Gallery is the main gallery housed in the ornate rooms of the palace apartments. The gallery is home to over 500 paintings from the Renaissance era. The palace museum collection also consists of Gallery of Modern Art which holds a collection of artworks from the 18th to the early 20th century, the Silver Museum collection consists of gold and silver artifacts, artworks in precious stones and antique items. There is also a Porcelain Museum, Costume Gallery and a Carriage Museum.
Church of Santa Maria del Carmine
Santa Maria del Carmine Church dates back to the 13th century. The church has a plain unfinished facade with a Rococo interior decorated with beautiful frescoes. The Brancacci Chapel in the church is famous for the exquisite Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino.
Basilica of S. Maria del Santo Spirito
The Basilica di Santo Spirito is one of the prominent churches in Florence dating back to the 13th century. The interior of the church is considered as a Renaissance architectural masterpiece featuring arches, columns and geometrical designs. The church has 38 side chapels which house some of the important artworks and paintings.
Right behind the Pitti Palace are the landscaped gardens of Boboli extending up to the Belvedere Fort. The garden is adorned with Roman and Renaissance statues dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
The garden has an amphitheater, large fountains, grottos, an Egyptian Obelisk, an 18th-century Rococo pavilion called the Kaffeehaus and the Lemon House built in the 18th century.
Piazzale Michelangelo is a popular square and a historic landmark in Florence. The square can be reached by about 20 minutes walk uphill, you can also take a bus or drive all the way up to the square. The square is dominated by a bronze statue of David at its center and a neoclassical-style loggia which houses a restaurant.
The terrace offers incredible views over the city of Florence and its skyline including the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the winding Arno River.
If you visit after dusk the entire city lit in golden illumination is absolutely breathtaking.
About a 10-minute walk uphill from Piazzale Michelangelo is San Miniato al Monte, an 11th-century Romanesque church. The church has a striking facade decorated with colored marble and mosaics. Next to the church is a monumental cemetery called Cimitero Delle Porte Sante with elaborate tombs adorned with statues and sculptures.
Day Trips from Florence
There is plenty to see in the historic city of Florence but if you have 3 or 4 days in Florence plan to visit other Italian cities/towns which have equally remarkable historic sights and monuments and are easy day trips from Florence City.
Read here for the best day trips from Florence.