A 'must see' to visit Michelangelo's statue of David at the Galleria dell'Accademia. Additionally you see half finished sculptures by Michelangelo so you get an opportunity to see how the process of creating David must have taken.
The most important thing is getting in and avoiding the queues. Sometimes there are small queues while other times the queues can be quite big.
You can call +39 055 294883 to make a reservation in advance which costs an extra €4 onto the €11 ticket price. The phone operator will give you a six digit extension number which you quote when you purchase tickets. All the operator takes is your name and asks what your chosen day / time slot is.
The reservation will then allow you to go to a different door avoiding the long queues. The real beauty of the phone reservation is that you do not pay until you turn up so if there are any unforeseen changes to your schedule you don't end up out of pocket. Additionally if there are small queues, you would simply queue up and avoid paying the €4 reservation fee.
Phone reservation available Mon - Fri 08.30 - 18.30 (Italian time) & Sat 08.30 - 12.30.
Tried the online booking service but gave up as it kept falling over as I input the details of my UK credit card.
Among the most beautiful Italian cities, Florence is a favoured location when it comes to romance. This Tuscan city is fairly small and its well-known attractions, such as the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, are within walking distances. Although it is a very touristic destination, there are countless quieter spots for a romantic proposal. Couples can enjoy a stroll or a picnic in the Boboli Gardens, or use the service of a “Renaiolo” for a boat trip on the River Arno. Climbing the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo rewards visitors with stunning views of the city and a few more steps take you to another Florentine treasure: San Miniato al Monte. Of course a romantic weekend in Florence would not be complete without the delicious food, wine and ice cream on offer.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the world's most incredible galleries, not known as a live music venue.
However if you go at 9pm on a Saturday evening in the summertime (when the gallery has late night opening), the windows are all open, the tourists have all gone, the cruise ships have set sail, you have the place to yourself.
The windows are all open to allow the summer breeze in and the live music being played by string quartets busking in the square below fills the rooms, making it one of the most amazing - unexpected - live music venues I have ever experienced.
A stunning shop-cum-gallery selling original etchings and frames made by the artist-owners and their friends. No "art snobbery" here - the owners are English-speaking and happily spend time with you, explaining how they make the etchings and frames. With our purchase, we got a cup of tea and a fab local restaurant recommendation. Whether you want a unique memento of Florence or an original gift, Il Tamarino is well worth a visit.
Il Tamarino Stampe d'Arte
via del Moro 46R
Tel. 055 282457
Stunning location to view Fra Angelico's works, including the sublime 'Annunciation' at the top of Dormitory stairs. The individual cells are also decorated with lovely frescoes. Of all the wonders offered in Florence, it is this gentlest of sites that leaves me smiling.
A wonderful and often neglected gallery, the Bargello formerly housed a barracks and a prison; now, however, it is home to some of the finest sculpture in the city. Gems include Donatello's insouciant bronze David, which has an almost dandyish air, and Michelangelo's stern and commanding bust of Brutus, very much in the artistic line that paints Caesar's adoptive son as a heroic and inspirational figure, rather than a weak and malleable one. You will also find a treasure trove of works by the Della Robbia family in this imposing castle.
Via del Proconsolo 4 (near the Palazzo Vecchio); tel: (+39) 055 238 8606
San Marco, and Savonarola; Angelico's Annunciation is worth the admission alone. You can usually find somewhere in the cloisters just to sit away from the crowds. So much of Florence's history revolved around this convent. If I could visit only one place in Florence this would be it.
Cappella Brancacci: Masaccio's masterpiece.
San Miniato: beautiful small church. Don’t forget the graveyard, and then there's the view of Florence.
San Lorenzo: the old sacristy as well as Brunelleschi's brilliant interior.
Oh and Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, Cappelle Medici...
Museo di San Marco: Piazza San Marco; tel: +39 55 238 8608
Cappella Brancacci: Piazza del Carmine; tel: +39 055 238 21 95
San Miniato: Via Monte Alle Croci, 34; tel: 055 2342768
Basilica di San Lorenzo: Piazza San Lorenzo
The Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli) are beautiful! Approximately 111 acres (45 hectares) of lavishly landscaped gardens behind the Pitti Palace ((Palazzo Pitti), extending to modern Fort Belvedere in Florence. Designed in a carefully structured and geometric Italian renaissance style, the gardens were begun in 1550 by Niccolò di Raffaello de' Pericoli detto Tribolo, who had been commissioned by Eleanora de Toledo, wife of Cosimo I, to create a setting that would be appropriate for vast pageants and Medici court entertainments.
Lacking a natural water supply, the gardens relied on an elaborate system of water distribution, a special conduit being built to tap the river; this was further enlarged by Ferdinando I, Cosimo's son, and the garden waters are known as the Acqua Ferdinanda. The Boboli, preserved by the Italian monarchy and today a public park, displays statuary from various historical periods, and includes works by important mannerist and baroque sculptors. Among well-known features are the Artichoke Fountain, the Museum of Porcelain, a Rococo Kaffeehaus, and a much-copied, horseshoe-shaped amphitheatre with an Egyptian obelisk.
After touring through the Pitti Palace you may wish to meander through the charming renaissance gardens that occupy the hill behind the museum. You will notice the occasional baroque and rococo touches while enjoying the cypress laneways, the Limonaia & botanical gardens, the hidden statues and bubbling fountains. Inside the gardens you can also enter into the Porcelain Museum with the same ticket. Technically picnics are not allowed in the gardens but pick a secluded spot or an empty bench and you can normally eat without being noticed. There are cafes in the street before you enter into the gardens, and here you can easily purchase sandwiches and wine to enjoy in the sun. Take extra bread and feed the ducks while your there
Also take a look at the Bardini Gardens. These are newly opened gardens and can be entered with the same ticket purchased for the Boboli gardens.
You can reserve Boboli Garden tickets with Florenceart (www.florenceart.it/booking);
For more information see www.polomuseale.firenze.it/english/musei/boboli;
tel: 39 0552651838;
If you like your sculpture al fresco, then this is the place to come. It all seems slightly surreal, particularly the ‘Loggia dei Lanzi’, which is a specially built raised area housing the famous Rape of the Sabine Women, Perseus and a clutch of Roman priestesses. Near the wall of the old council chamber is a copy of Michelangelo’s David next to Bandinelli’s Hercules. To top it all off is the Neptune fountain and the Grand Duke Cosimo further out into the square. I’m not sure why there’s such a concentration on stonework at this spot, but at least it saves on the shoe leather.
Centre of the city
One time home of the Medici family who bought it from the eponymous rival family after it bankrupted them. This is opulence Italian style, all the trappings of people for whom money was no object are here, including paintings by Titian and Raphael. The Boboli gardens at the rear are pleasant enough, but if you have limited time, the Palace is much more interesting.
Italy's premier art gallery. Pre-book your timed tickets at the pre-booking office or get your hotel to do it in advance. Sunday is the busiest day. Closed on Mondays. Be advised, it does not have a lot of really well known art, so if you are a phillistine head straight to Room 10 and gaze at Botticelli's Birth of Venus. The rest of the place is, honestly, not so memorable unless you are a true art buff.
The toilets are a disgrace. Avoid if at all possible, especially if you are a woman. The cafe is well worth a visit, if the sun is shining. Sit outside at one of the tables high above the city.
Piazzale degli Iffizi 6
Tel: 055 23885
The place that houses Michelangelo's statue of David. There is other stuff in the building but this is the reason for going. Now he has been cleaned he looks great. The kids will like it - he has no clothes on!
The real tip is to book your tickets before you begin to queue. Get your hotel to do it, for a specific time or you can do it on the internet before you leave home. If you don't you will queue for hours along with a load of Americans who have not read their guide book info properly. There is a separate - and much shorter - queue for pre-booked tickets. Yes, it costs you 3 euros more per person but it saves hours of queuing.
Via Ricasoli 58-60
Tel: 055 2388609
There is a lot to be said for seeing the major works of art in the churches for which they were created, especially as the queues for the major museums are horrendous. In 15th-century Florence no one covered more walls than Ghirlandaio, and his fresco cycles are well worth seeking out in Santa Maria Novella, Santa Trinita and the refectory of Ognissanti. But the most dramatic painting in a Florentine church is Pontormo's Deposition in Santa Felicita. Pontormo was stylistically in the thrall of Michelangelo but has a more agitated artistic personatlity, which reveals itself in the sheer strangeness of the colours and the forms on the canvas (this is an oil painting, although there is also a fresco of the Visitation on the adjoining wall). It's a mannerist masterpiece. Don't miss it.
The church of Santa Felicita is just south of the Ponte Vecchio. If you're walking towards the Pitta Palace, it's in a small piazza on your left. Take coins for the light meter.
This clever card ("Friends of the Uffizi") gets you into all the state galleries for free - Uffizi, Accademia, many more. Plus - and this is the best thing - you get to jump all of the massive queues! It lasts for a year and it's genius.
25 euro for the under-26s, 60 euro for those above, and a family deal for 100 euro.
The first face to look for is on the wall to the right of the front entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio, behind the statue of Hercules and Cacus. The face is said to be by Michelangelo. The second face is of Dante, on the road in front of his house in via Dante Alighieri.
Instead of queueing for two hours to get in the Uffizi or one hour for the Accademia or Pitti Palace, call the hotline to book tickets for a three euro surcharge per person. They'll give you a booking number and you pay at the museum's ticket office. Number valid for all state musuems, hence the above plus San Marco, Bargello Archaeological Museum etc.
+39 055 294883
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