Our professional English-speaking driver will pick you up directly at your accommodation and show you one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You will start with a drive along the Viale dei Colli, a tree lined street considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. This avenue winds up and down the hill from east to west on the south side of the Arno River reaching its peak at the Piazzale Michelangelo before winding back down to the Porta Romana. Get your camera ready because this panoramic square is home to a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David and has one of the best views of the entire city and its surroundings.
Far away in the distance you can see the village of Fiesole founded by the Etruscans and at its foot all the monuments of Florence are visible. Close by the Piazzale Michelangelo on a hill is the church of San Miniato al Monte. This beautiful example of Romanesque architecture with its white and green facade is one of the oldest in Florence. In front and back of the church there is an interesting monumental cemetery. At 6pm every evening you may hear the friars chant the holy mass in Latin in San Miniato al Monte, a mystical experience no matter what religion you profess. We will then leave San Miniato and continue downhill toward the Forte Belvedere. This fortress high above the city was built around 1590 by the Grand Duke Ferdinand de’ Medici in order to protect the Medici villas. From here you may see the fifth ring of the city’s walls that once surrounded the entire city. Unfortunately, the fortress is presently closed to the public.
After we leave the Forte Belvedere we will pass through one of the old gates to the city once also a part of the ring of walls - the Porta Romana. Following the Via Romana we will eventually come to the imposing Pitti Palace, once a Medici Villa and the King’s up until the 1920’s. Today this palace encloses many of the city’s important museums such as the Gallery of Modern Art, the Costume Gallery and the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments where you can see the King’s quarters, the Carriage Museum, the Silver Museum, the Porcelain Museum, and the world famous Boboli Gardens behind the palace. Next stop is the Piazza della Repubblica. This modern square has a column marking the exact center of Roman Florence. This in fact is where the Roman city flourished many centuries ago but in medieval times became the poorer quarter of the town which also enclosed the Ghetto. When Florence became the capital of Italy in the 1860’s, this quarter was demolished along with the north side’s ring of walls on the boulevards and replaced with what we see now - a busy European square, not entirely lacking in charm. Surrounded by popular historic cafés, this was once the watering ground of important intellectuals and writers.
Just a short way down the Via de’ Calzaiuoli and you will reach the Piazza del Duomo. “Duomo” is the Italian word used for “Cathedral” and Florence’s cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore or “Holy Mary of the Flower”, “The Flower” being the city of Florence, called this by the Romans. An older cathedral lies in the basement of the present church where the architect of the its famous dome, Brunelleschi, is buried and also some of the earliest popes. To the right side of the façade, the elegant bell tower designed by Giotto rises to the sky. Facing the holy doors of the cathedral is the Baptistery. This Byzantine building is built on the site of an early Christian church. The exquisite Ghiberti “Doors of Paradise” (copies) grace the side facing the cathedral. From here we go to the Piazza Signoria to admire one of Florence’s earliest seats of government which today is the town hall from which Florence’s mayor works.
The “Loggia dei Lanzi” is situated in the square and protects many important Roman copies of Greek sculpture as well as the original “Rape of the Sabine Women” by Giambologna and the “Perseus” by Bernini. The world-famous Uffizi Gallery is here, and was built to house the Medici’s incredibly vast and precious art collection. From the Uffizi Gallery your driver will take you to the Piazza Santa Croce to visit the church where many famous people are buried - Michelangelo and Galileo to just name two. This Franciscan church was once frescoed by some of the most important artists of its time. Today some frescoes by Giotto, Agnolo and Taddeo Gaddi are visible and some excellent sculpture by Canova, Vasari, and the more modern Bartolini. The graceful cloister and the Pazzi Chapel is designed by Brunelleschi. After your visit here, we will have a break. This is an excellent area for all kinds of eateries. There are some good trattoria but also pizzeria and sandwich shops nearby.
You driver can give you suggestions during the day and help you maximize your time. Have a peak at the leather shops and the artwork being painted in the square by local artists. Santa Croce is one of the neighborhoods famed for its local craftsman. In many of the narrow side streets you can see them at work - with leather, iron, wood, paints - most of them using their own designs in a trade passed on from father to son. This is the area where leather goods are traditionally made and there are many stores here that can testify to this.
For high fashion and high quality clothing, the most important shopping district is the area in and around the Via de’ Tornabuoni. Here the most world’s most famous designers have their shops – Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo, Versace, Cavalli, Coveri, just to name a few. But if its local crafts you are seeking you will enjoy the Santa Croce and Santo Spirito areas.
The large outdoor market of San Lorenzo and its numerous stalls selling souvenirs, leather goods, clothing and costume jewelry should be one of your destinations in Florence. When lunch and shopping are finished you might want to visit the Academia Museum to see the original David by Michelangelo. Please be aware that you will need reservations for the museum but you can ask us! This breathtaking statue comes to this museum from the Piazza della Signoria where a copy now stands. If you want to leave the city, a short car ride will take you to visit the ancient Etruscan town of Fiesole. There is an interesting Roman amphitheater and archeology museum here. A fantastic view of Florence can be had from the San Francesco convent up the very steep hill.
If you are interested in the Accademia Museum (David) and/or the Uffizi Gallery, please advise us at the time of the booking so we can provide you the skip the line tickets in order to avoid waiting in lines and maximize your time. less >>
-Licensed guide at disposal in Florence (3 hours) to give you more specific and detailed tour of the city/museums/attractions in which you are interested.
The proposed itineraries are only examples of possible tours. For different pick up / drop off locations or customized itineraries we invite our clients to contact one of our tour coordinators to help them design their own tour.