“The creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo”
There are very few cities on earth that rival the beauty of Florence, Italy. We have had the privilege of walking twice beneath sunny Florentine skies, tracing the inspirational footsteps of Michelangelo and da Vinci. From richly colored marble and realistic masterpieces to shop lined bridges and golden doorways, Florence, Italy, speaks to the soul in a way only a historic Italian city can. Walking the cobblestone streets is placing yourself into the very heart of history, immersing yourself in an epicentre of art and culture.
Designed in 1869 by Giuseppe Poggi, as part of a restructuring of the city walls, this is a place not to be missed. The view of Florence from this vantage point is absolutely spectacular, and the reason both locals and tourists continuously flock to it. There are vendors selling their wares as well as a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s ‘David’. And as you step towards the edge, noting each of the city’s most beloved monuments and squares, from the curve of the duomo to the arches of Ponte Vecchio, the vast stretch of history will take your breath away.
We found ourselves here for not only the stunning panorama, but for a long planned Father’s Day surprise! Pulling into the parking lot, two gorgeous red Ferrari’s came into view, surrounded by throngs of tourists, tongues wagging. What a thrill it was to tell Sam that he was about to take one for a drive! A huge thank you to the kind gentlemen at TestDriveFirenze who were absolutely fantastic and who allowed our daughters to also partake in this bucket list adventure!
Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most stunning structures I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. With a dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, this gothic style cathedral began construction in the 13th century by Arnolfo di Cambio, and is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world. Boasting ornate carvings and walls of pink, white and green marble, the outside is only rivaled by the mosaic flooring and beautiful frescoes of the interior.
Located across from the Duomo is the Battistero di San Giovanni, constructed between 1059 and 1128, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It is well known for being the place where Dante was baptized, as well as it’s three sets of bronze doors with relief sculptures. The East doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti were dubbed the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo, and are commonly mistaken for being the originals. To see the real works, you must visit the Opera di Santa Maria Del Fiore.
Also housed here is one of the final works by Michelangelo, the Florentine Pieta, of which he attempted to destroy in a fit of rage, following what he found to be a flaw. The face of Nicodemus, at the top, is said to be a self portrait, and Michelangelo intended for the sculpture to adorn his tomb.
While there are so many pieces of art worth paying homage to in the collection at Galleria dell’ Accademia, most people step thru the doors to view the infamous Michelangelo masterpiece, David. We had missed seeing this slice of artistic history on our last visit, as a strike caused the gallery to close for the day. This time we were successful, and stood in awe of the 17 foot tall marble masterpiece. Everything from the natural light above, to his disproportionately massive hands and head are sheer perfection.
***avoid long lineups (that can run hours long) by booking an entrance appointment in advance online
Spanning the Arno River at it’s narrowest point, Ponte Vecchio is a historic gem not to be missed. Rebuilt after flooding, it was built for the final time in 1345, and was the only bridge spanning the Arno not to be destroyed by the Germans during WWII. The massive pedestrian bridge is filled with tourists, meandering across as they peer thru windows offering spectacular gold and jewelry, stopping in the center to view the river passing below.
PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA
This is perhaps one of my favorite places to visit in Florence. Located close to Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo, it is also the gateway to the Uffizi Gallery. Situated beneath the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, the square is rich in monuments, such as those of the open air gallery, Loggia dei Lanzi. A menacing bronze ‘Perseus’ beheading Medusa, the marble ‘Abduction of the Sabine Virgins’ by Giambologna and ‘Hercules slaying the Centaur Nessus‘ are absolutely captivating.
This city rooted in the Renaissance is an absolute must see. Whether you spend a day or a lifetime, it simply will not be enough time to explore every historical corner. From breathtaking views of a distant duomo to awe inspiring pieces of the masters themselves, Florence shall always be one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, that place where footsteps remain forever.
Until we meet again,
39 thoughts on “Footsteps thru Florence, Italy”
I have been to Florence hundreds of times and not once did I manage to step inside the Uffizi! I know its a big shame but that will change in 2016 – especially after reading your post #getting_inspired! 🙂
I am envious! We have only been twice, and I have to admit I loved it so much more when we were there in November, less crowds and much cooler temperatures! But it is simply so amazing, I would go again in a heartbeat….and hope to again very soon!
I was in Florence with the kids last summer and we had the most amazing holiday: I left Italy over 12 years ago and for the very first time, while there, I questioned my move… that’s how much it got under my skin! I love your mention of the ferrari: we booked a ferrari tour for a friend and made the most of the photo op too – I have super cute photo of my daughter in it: will get the post out next week, you gave me the motivation I needed to finally write it!
It’s under my skin and I’ve only been twice!! And yes, the Ferrari drive is pretty epic 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to stop in!
I remember I told you we are getting to do a conference (or my husband is) in May! I can’t wait! I will be keeping you in mind for advice! Great, great article and I love the history and pictures. I am interested in seeing all of this. My son and husband love history so will love it. I am getting more appreciative of history the older I get and I am interested in Christian history. I bookmarked it and will pin it and share!
Fantastic! Florence is so spectacular. We’ve also done Michaelangelo’s childhood home, and although we’ve never been, the da vinci museum is supposed to be excellent and interactive for kids. Thanks for reading!!
You’re welcome! I do love reading your articles. I wish I had more time to read more. I will be consulting you closer to our trip if that’s okay.
Absolutely! I can talk Italy all day long, so grab a glass of vino and give me a list of questions!
Thanks! Didn’t you say you stayed there twice for a month each time? We will do well to stay two weeks. Also I’m pretty sure you had the great article about staying with three really nice families or in their B & B.
We did!! Check them out at https://passportsandpigtails.com/2015/09/03/local-is-the-new-lux/ Most people are quite amazed by how affordable our trip was. And now that we’ve stayed with locals, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else!
I had bookmarked it, but will again! Thanks 🙂
You are so right. Florence is gorgeous and one of my favorite Italian cities. Borghese Gallery is one of my favorite galleries in the world.
I’ve only been to the Borghese Gallery in Rome and it was absolutely amazing, downside was that they didn’t allow any photos!
Oh I do love Florence! My sister used to live there and I used to visit every year, I’ve got great memories there. I’m yet to bring my son, but I feel an Italy trip is on the cards 🙂 Lovely photos, and I can only imagine just how much your husband loved the Ferrari experience – what a treat!
Oh, to visit every year, that is such a dream for me!!
Wow this looks completely fabulous – i have always wanted to go to Florence. And HOW AMAZING to ride a ferrari through the streets!I hope Sam appreciates what a fab wife you are, lol 🙂
It is one of our favorites, for sure! And yes, he absolutely loved it, major brownie points for this wife!
Thank you so much for taking me back to Florence! We only spent a short time there before kids, so looking forward to taking the back soon one day. What was your kids favourite place in Florence?
If you ask my daughters, hands down it would be the pool where we stayed! But they loved the Ferrari ride and seeing David….ok, so maybe David made them giggle….
Florence is amazing! Great pictures! Looks like you had a great time! Definitely jealous!
We did! And yes, Florence is one of our favorite places! Thanks for taking the time to stop in 🙂
I absolutely love the fact that you got to test drive Ferraris in Florence to fulfill bucketlist dreams! I loved Florence but it’s been 20 years. Need to go back
Yes, it was pretty awesome!
I once tried to get lost in Florence and failed miserably because I kept winding back up at the Duomo, haha. Were you yelled at for taking photos of David? I had to sneak it when I was there, hehehe.
Actually most were taking photos! But the sign just asked for no selfie sticks to be used. He is so magnificent!
The architecture there is truly spectacular. I love the view from Ponte Vecchio. I can’t wait to finally visit Florence one day.
It It is one of our favorite cities, I hope you get to visit someday soon!
I’m almost embarrassed to write (because so many disagree) that Florence was my least favorite city in Italy! I really would like to go back because before and after, all I hear is good things about it. I just didn’t feel it. It was dirty and we met really shady people while there taking public transportation. I need to give it another chance for sure! Maybe it was just timing because your pictures and adventures sound amazing.
Never be embarrassed to have an opinion! I’m sorry your experience wasn’t pleasant, I think every city has the ability to be either positive or negative. We’ve seen Florence in fall and summer and both were vastly different, so I understand!
Florence looks like a beautiful, romantic city! That’s pretty neat that you can book an entrance reservation to avoid long lines! Love all your photos, great job!
Florence is one of my most favourite towns in all of Europe. On both of my visits, we have motorhomed through here and camped up on the hill near Michelangleo Place on the other side of the river. From here, all we could see was the terracotta rooftops of the city. Just beautiful. Loved the Duomo anad the markets. I still have a leather jacket and handbags that I bought from here in ’97 and 2005. Great article.
Florence is really a poem of a city. Words are inadequate to describe the ethereal beauty of this place. We were there a couple of years ago and we are still to wake up from that dream. Such is the effect that the place has had on us.
Thank you for such beautiful words!
Oh wow Florence looks absolutely beautiful. I haven’t been to Italy yet but I’ve certainly heard of Florence. I didn’t really think about visiting it until I read this post though.
Well if I’ve played even the tiniest part of convincing you to go, then I consider my goal a on track 🙂
I haven’t spent much time thinking about visiting Florence, but your post has made me fall in love with it too. 🙂
Thank you for such kind words! I’m so glad to have made Florence a thought in your mind 🙂