What to See in Florence, Italy

Florence Souvenir Ideas

1. Emilio Pucci “Firenze Battistero” Florence Scarf
2. Map of Italy Pillow Cover – mybeardedpigeon – Etsy
3. Rose Water Tonic – Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella 
4. Handmade Leather Bound Journal – Signum Firenze – via Flickr
5. Handmade Leather Purse – Bojola
6. Handmade Leather gloves – Madova
7. Gregorian Chant Wrapping Paper – Il Papiro 

Florence Italy is bursting to the seams with beautifully crafted handmade items that you can bring home for gifts and souvenirs. They are well-known for their handmade leather items like purses, wallets, gloves, and belts. Walking down the San Lorenzo Market  you can find these goods along with an abundance of colourful scarves that are such a good price you will stuff your suitcase full of them. There are little shops that when you enter them they feel like stores of the old days with leather-bound journals, paper with medieval drawings and scripts, little wax sealed, corked bottles of coloured ink and calligraphy pens on wooden shelves. Even family run little stores that will hand make a pair of shoes for you that you will bring home and treasure forever. There are so many things you can bring back with you, that you will have trouble narrowing your list down to just one (or two, or three).

Like the many things to buy, there is also a lot of things for you to see. Florence has played an important role in history since the medieval times. It has been home to many artists, inventors, scientists, and forward thinkers. These people have not only left their imprint on the city but in several cases they have left a burial spot that you can visit and pay your respects to thank them as well. Here are a few things that I have on my What to See in Florence list when I get the chance to visit. You may like some of them too.

  1. Ponte Vecchio – this “Old Bridge” was built in 1345 to replace the first bridge, destroyed in a flood. Since the 13th century the Ponte Vecchio has contained shops. Originally the shops included, butchers, tanners, and fishmongers but due to the smell Ferdinand I decreed only goldsmith shops, and jewellers may have their shops there and are still the only shops you will find on there to this day. The view from the bridge is supposed to be beautiful and viewed best at either sunrise or sunset.
  2. The Palazzo Pitti – an enormous palace that built for the Pitti family in 1457 and became the primary residence to the Medici family in 1549. Today is house some of the most important museums in Florence. The Palatine Gallery has less crowds than the Uffizi but it has a broad collection of 16th-17th century paintings by some of the Masters’ from Florence like Raphael, but as well as non-Florentines such as Caravaggio, Rubens, and Titian. The Royal Apartments contain furnishings from a remodel done in the 19th century. The Silver Museum has a large collection of Medici household treasures, and the Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor.
  3. Boboli Gardens – Located behind The Pitti Palace (and admission discounted when you visit the museums at the palace) It is the largest green area in Florence and dates back to 1549. It is one of the greatest open-air museums in Florence. It has centuries old oak trees, sculptures, fountains (like the Fountain of Neptune, the other Fountain of Neptune is located at Piazza della Signoria) and is beautiful to view through the different seasons.
  4. Bargello National Museum – Is one of Florence’s best museums. The building dates from 1225 and used as a prison for a long time. It houses an amazing collection of art and most notably, sculptures from the Renaissance, including masterpieces by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, and Cellini.
  5. Uffizi Gallery – What the Bargello museum (above) is to sculpture the Uffizi is to paintings. The Gallery is home to works of art by so many famous Italian artists such as Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raffaello.  It is one of the most famous museums in the world and I for one, would never want to miss an opportunity to visit it.
  6. Galleria dell’Accademia – First and foremost it is home to Michelangelo’s David, it also has many other marble sculptures from him as well. After viewing David you can go through the much less crowded halls of the museum and view many exhibits about botany, music, art symbols, and painting techniques.
  7. The Duomo the Catherdral di Santa Maria del Fiore – The main church of Florence’s building began in 1296 in the Gothic style and competed structurally in 1436 with the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Inside there are Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment. You can also climb up the dome (463 steps)  to get a beautiful view.
  8. Abbey of San Miniato al Monte – This 11th century church is on a hilltop giving remarkable views of the city. It is considered one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany and one of the most scenic churches in Italy. On the way up be sure to stop and enjoy the views at Piazzale Michelangelo (here is where you see many photos taken of the beautiful views of the city) before continuing to the church.
  9. Basilica of Santa Croce – This is where you can do some touring of famous graves. It is the burial-place of some of the most famous italians such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini. It is known as the Temple of the Italian Glories.
  10. Visit artisan workshops. Take a walk around the city and go into the little shops. Many of these places are run by individuals/families that have worked in that art for generations. There are shoemakers, leather makers, papermakers, even old pharmacies and perfumers. These are areas that you can find the best souvenirs and gifts to bring back home.

What to Pack for Florence,  and What to Wear in Florence, are in previous posts.

What are your favourite souvenirs to bring back on a vacation?

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porte vecchio

Sara