What to see and do in 2 days in Florence

What to see and do in 2 days in Florence
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This post was updated in November 2018

Who does not dream of visiting the Italian city of Florence? With its wonderful architecture, stunning artworks and fascinating history no trip to Italy would be complete without spending time in the city that was the birthplace of the Renaissance.

If you are visiting Florence as part of your Italian travel itinerary but are short on time it is possible to see a lot in 48 hours. You just have to plan and prepare in advance.

First thing to do is to identify exactly what you want to see and do. To help you with this I have produced a list of recommendations if you only have 2 days in Florence.

The second step I would strongly suggest is to book tickets and tours well in advance if you are visiting Florence during the busy summer period. It may cost extra but you will not regret walking past others who will be queuing for hours in the Italian heat.

We visited Florence during an 18 day train trip through Italy from Rome to Milan (including stops in Florence, Venice and Verona). Our itinerary is coming soon!


FLORENCE’S DUOMO 


Il Duomo di Firenze is the main church of Florence and it pretty much dominates the city.

Construction of the Duomo began at the end of the 13th century with the beautiful dome designed by Brunelleschi added in 1420. Giotto’s Bell Tower was completed in 1359.

The exterior of the church with its mix of pink, green and white marble is simply stunning. The inside however is not so beautiful after it was painted over during the Reformation in Europe!

No trip to Florence would be complete without visiting the Duomo.

 

FLORENCE CATHEDRAL IN ITALY

 

Tips for visiting Florence Cathedral

  • Entrance to the Cathedral is free but if you want to see Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni or the Crypt of Santa Reparata you will require a combined ticket which can be purchased for €18 from the Duomo website.
  • The views of Florence from Giotto’s Bell Tower are stunning and well worth the climb. There are a total of 414 steps to the top but you can stop for a break on each of the three middle floors. I do not recommend this climb if you suffer from claustrophobia as the steps are narrow and it is the only way up – and down – to the tower.
  • Do visit the Baptistry of St John. It is across from the Duomo and it is where the entire Medici family were baptised.
  • If you are visiting in summer it will be busy so try to go earlier in the day or later in the afternoon.
  • Cover your knees and shoulders.
  • Don’t miss the famous doors by Ghiberti which adorn the Baptistry. Unfortunately the originals were severely damaged in the floods of 1966.

 

Recommended tours to the Duomo

 


Accademia Gallery (for Michelangelo’s David)


I can’t describe the awe you feel when you see this statue. It is perfection.  It was craved out of one piece of white marble between 1501 and 1504 by the genius that was Michelangelo. The 14 foot statue depicts the Biblical David about to slay the giant Goliath.

Do yourself a favour if you are going to Florence and go and see David at the Accademia.

There are more of Michelangelo’s statues in the Accademia. His slaves or prisoners show how he created his sculptures with the figures seemingly  freeing themselves from the marble. ”Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” (Michelangelo)

Last but not least in in the Accademia there is Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women”. This is the plaster model he made before carving the statue out of marble. The marble statue stands in the Piazza della Signoria beside the copy of David.

 

MICHELANGELO'S DAVID IN THE ACCADEMIA FLORENCE

 

Tips for visiting the Accademia

  • Book tickets in advance. Do not turn up on the day in summer or you will spend most of it queuing in the hot sun waiting to get in. Numbers allowed into the Accademia are limited. Even with an advance booking and tickets we had a 30 minute wait.
  • Do not skip seeing David! I know there is a copy in the but it really is not the same. There will be a million people in the piazza and you will get no where near. Why see a copy when you have spent all that money getting to Florence!
  • Read The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo before you go. It will really make you appreciate his genius even more.

 

Recommended tours to the Accademia

Seriously buy your tickets now. It will make life so much easier!

 


The Uffizi


The Uffizi was built in 1581 by the Granduca Francisco de’Medici. Designed by Vasari the Uffizi were initially offices.

Today it houses an amazing art collection and is the most visited museum in Italy. Everyone wants to see the great art works of the Renaissance including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.

We took a tour which was a great way to learn about the artworks. It also meant we were able to see all the key pieces.

THE UFFIZI IN FLORENCE

 

Tips for visiting the Uffizi

  • On the first Sunday of every month all state museums are free in Italy. If you are lucky enough to be there on a free day be sure to go as early as possible.
  • Don’t try to see everything – there is simply too much. Identify the key pieces you want to see before you go and head for them.
  • Book a tour with a guide – we had an art professor show us around and we learnt lots about the art.

 

Recommended tours to the Uffizi

 


4. Walk the Ponte Vecchio


The Ponte Vecchio is unmistakable. The medieval bridge over the River Arno is the only bridge that survived World War 2.

In medieval times butcher’s shops lined the bridge. In 1593 however Ferdinand 1 decreed that only goldsmiths and jewellers could have shops on the bridge.

The famous Vasari corridor also runs along the bridge above the goldsmiths shops.

ponte vecchio florence italy

 

Tips for visiting the Ponte Vecchio

  • If you want to walk the Vasari corridor you have to book a private tour.
  • The view from the bridge is beautiful so prepare for some selfies! If you don’t want a million other people in you photo you need to head to the bridge early in the morning.
  • Be careful of pickpockets. Keep your valuables out of sight and if possible use an anti-pickpocket bag.

 

Recommended tours of the Vasari Corridor

 


The Palazzo Medici


The palace was built for the Medici family between 1444 and 1484. It is also where Michelangelo moved to in 1489 aged 14 when he was sponsored by Lorenzo de Medici.

Visiting the palace will help develop an understanding of just how influential and powerful (and rich) the Medici family were in Florence.

palace de medici in florence italy

 

Tips for visiting the Palazzo Medici

  • Admire the architecture of the palace from outside. Don’t miss the famous kneeling windows which were designed by Michelangelo.
  • You can find the palace on the via Cavour near the Church of San Lorenzo.

 

Recommended tours of the Medici Palace

 


The Piazza della Signoria


 

The Piazza della Signoria is in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. The L shaped square contains a copy of David as well as other statues(Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women is here and can be seen in the above video)

The square also leads onto the Uffizi so I am sure you will find yourself here during any visit to Florence.

If all this walking and sightseeing is making you hungry it may be time to try some of the great places to eat in Florence.

 

The Piazza della Signoria

 

Tips for visiting the Piazza della Signoria

  • The piazza can be very busy in summer. Take care of any belongings as this is an ideal area for pickpockets.
  • If you are visiting in summer wear a hat, drink plenty of water and use sun screen.

 

Recommended walking tours of Florence

 


Rub the nose of Il Porcellino


Il Porellino is the Florentine nickname for the bronze statue of a boar that can be found in the Piazza del Mercato Nuovo. The statue was sculpted and cast by Pietro Tacca in 1634. The present statue is a copy.

Tradition holds that if you rub its nose you will return to Florence. I rubbed its nose!

I am sure you will too.

Il porcellino - 2 days in florence


A UNESCO World Heritage Site


Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To find out more about it check out the listing on their site HERE!

Click here for more UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

READ MORE
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Around the World

PIN FOR LATER – 2 days in Florence

a-wander-through-florenceA GUIDE TO VISITING FLORENCE ITALY


 

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Author: Tracy

Tracy is your expert expat!

She has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

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20 Comments

  1. September 15, 2016 / 11:54 am

    Lovely pictures, they make me want to return back to Italy now. I love the fact it is so full of some amazing history to

    • September 15, 2016 / 5:57 pm

      Yes just love Italy – could spend a lot of time there if I was able to – so much to see and take in.

  2. September 15, 2016 / 5:37 pm

    I LOVE that book Tracy! What do you think??
    Your pictures almost made me weep again – I cried when I saw the David. So mesmerising.

  3. September 15, 2016 / 5:59 pm

    I am loving the book Alex – I love Michelangelo even more reading that. I agree about the David – it has such an amazing aura around it. I found it totally awe-inspiring.

  4. Pauline
    September 25, 2016 / 6:09 pm

    We have been invited to spend a week in Florence Tracy with some Italian friends in June. It will be interesting to see where they take us.

    • September 25, 2016 / 7:02 pm

      Fantastic Pauline! I hope you get to the Accademia to see David – it was the highlight for me. If you haven’t read it I would highly recommend ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ a novel based on Michaelangelo’s life. Will be interested to see what you think after your trip!

  5. September 27, 2016 / 10:37 am

    Ah don’t you just love Florence!!? Amazing pictures! #CityTripping

    • September 27, 2016 / 6:39 pm

      Unfortunately I don’t cope well with confined spaces (or steps)so didn’t do it though I can imagine the view is amazing!

  6. September 27, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    Lovely photos. Really do Florence justice #citytripping

  7. September 28, 2016 / 4:32 am

    Wonderful! I have been two times to Florence but there are so many things I have not done or visited. A third visit is necessary!

  8. September 28, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    Such wonderful photos – it’s years (and years) since I was last in Florence, but everywhere I turn, I seem to see posts about the city. I think the universe is giving me a hint. Lovely to read yours and be reminded of some of the things I saw. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • September 29, 2016 / 3:56 pm

      I think most of the people who wrote the posts were there with me in August lol! Seriously though Florence is always worth a visit and I hope you get there soon! Thanks for the lovely comment and hope to see you again soon! #citytripping here I come!

  9. September 29, 2016 / 9:43 am

    Fabulous pictures! I’ve been to Italy a few times but never to Florence, I so want to go! #citytripping

    • September 29, 2016 / 3:47 pm

      Thanks glad you like my photos. Yes Florence is definitely worth a visit – I will be going back for a third time as still have not seen everything I want!

  10. October 2, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    I love your photos. We didn’t make it to see the statue of David so we really need to go back at some point…just not at the height of the summer! We went in June about ten years ago and it wasn’t too busy – certainly not as bad as Rome. I really love Florence…probably a bit more than Rome because of its size, charm and amazing architecture. I was really wowed by the Duomo. #citytripping

    • October 3, 2016 / 5:49 pm

      We went in August and it was manic! Not as hot as Rome but still fairly warm! David is really worth seeing – I saw the replica the first time I visited but the real thing just takes your breath away. The Duomo is stunning too. Thanks for dropping by!