UNESCO Historic Centre of Florence (Firenze) - Italy

I reached Florence by almost night 9:30 and directly went off to the hostel. My actual exploration of Florence started on the next day. I had booked the entry of Galleria dell'Accademia at 8:15AM when it opens its doors. I had booked for Uffizi by noon and by afternoon was my bus to Pisa. So I was exploring Florence soon after I got out of Galleria till I entered Uffizi. 
Firenze Duomo and David were my primary inspirations to visit Florence. Its a place that I wanted to see since, not my college days, but my school days. Long back I was gifted a table calendar by someone called 'Renaissance' with its cover image as Florence Duomo and 12 Renaissance paintings in the monthly pages. And I was so so so enthralled to see it from a distance. While learning about it online to buy tickets, I came to know that its entry is free and no booking is required. However when I went there, the queue was.............................
The queue began at the door of the Duomo and went all around the duomo!!! At certain places there were placards that gave an idea of how much more time is expected to reach the entrance! And the place where this queue ended, the placard was at 2.5hrs!!!!!!!!!! There was absolutely no point in waiting in that queue, so I just began to pacify myself with just the outside view of the Duomo.
There was a very short queue though. But that was to see the dome of the Duomo which has tickets that could be booked online for a particular time slot. Also the Museum and Bell Tower have a time slot booking system which is a part of the Dome visit ticket. Once you're inside, you can see the Cathedral as well! However if you opt to see just the Cathedral for free, no choice than to stand in the queue.
The Cathedral is called Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers and along with its Baptistry and Campanile, together they are listed under UNESCO. Its construction began in 1296 and was completed in 1436, after being stopped for several times due to various reasons incl death of architect, war, unrest etc. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival facade.

Leaving the cathedral, I stopped by at the Open Air Museum - Loggia della Signoria. Next I had a look at another piazza - Piazza della Republica where 2 things attracted me. One was this arch called the Arcone designed by Micheli with an inscription on it that says that the ancient city has revived. Second was an awesome carousel aka merry-go-round complete with Renaissance styled images atop!
There are several pillars with statues atop & fountains scattered all over Florence. As I was walking the streets of Florence, kinda aimlessly (since Duomo visit flopped), just admiring the old world charm and the inherernt chaotic nature (that's so similar to India). Almost every building in the town was ancient. And then I saw a group of tourists who were being explained by a tour guide. So I stopped to figure out what's so important in that. It was a church and there was a plaque which explained its history.... - Its the Orsanmichele Church & Museum.

Documents for the existence of this church are from 893 CE which was demolished in 1239. Later on this was built as a granary in early 1290 CE.  It was then a loggia with lots of open spaces and was used as for agricultural marketplace. The original architects were Andrea Pissano, Francesco Talenti, Neri di Fioravante, and Benci di Cione. However later the place became more known for its painitng of Madonna on a pillar and miracles associated with it. 

So the loggia was closed with exquisite stained glass work and gothic styled arched windows. Several sculptures were made to ornate the church and some were even made of bronze all between 1399-1430. These were funded by the various guilds of that era incl Silk workers, Linen workers, Physicians, Furriers, Butchers, Bankers, Armorours etc. Those bronze sculptures were made the rich guilds. Once this was the most beautiful collection of sculptures by the greatest Gothic artists. 

Today some of the sculptures have been moved to the 1st floor which is today a museum. The original tabernacles (similar to Goshtam in Hindu temples) are filled with replicas of original sculptures. Efforts are on to move all the sculptures and refill with replicas. Unfortunately I did not get to visit the Museum as its open only on Mondays. The main painting of Madonna is Madonna della Grazie from 1346 by Bernardo Daddi. The Marble Altar is by Andrea Orcagna made in 1359. Beside the main altar is the altar of St.Anne.
Some of the sculptures were so exquisite and the one I liked the most was of Thomas and Jesus which depicts Thomas reaching out to touch the wound on Jesus' chest. Infact this is the one that faces an important road there called Via dei Calzaiuoli (well, that's the shopping street with all the high end brand showrooms). The entire church is completely filled with frecoes on its wall and ceiling, mostly of 14th C CE.
Infact even before I got to Galleria dell'Accademia, on my way from the hostel to here, I came across Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. Its a square from which both the Duomo and Galleria are accessible. Bang at the centre of the Piazza is an Equestrian Monument of Ferdinando I made in 1602. Plus there are also 2 fountains here. These were sculpted by Pietro Tacca. 
This bridge is across river Arno and that's the view from Uffizi. This is the oldest bridge in Florence and is called the Ponte Vecchio. Its a medieval stone closed bridge filled with shops all over. The earliest reference of this bridge is from 996 CE. The current structure was built in 1345 CE. Guess what, the whole of this area of Florence incl Duomo, Galleria, Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Loggia dei Lanzi, and many more monuments together is called the Historic Centre of Florence and all of it are under UNESCO!

Finally, roaming about the streets of Florence, I had a strange sense of belonging.... As weird as it may sound - the streets were filled with hawkers and open spaces near places of interest were filled with flea markets - soooo much like Chennai or Mumbai or Delhi!!!!!


To Get There:
Florence Duomo:
Nearest Metro Station: Santa Maria Novella
Entry Ticket to dome of Duomo (combined with Baptistry, Bell Tower, Museum, Crypt etc): €15.00
Museum alone is closed on the first Tuesday every month.

Orsanmichele Church & Museum
Entry Ticket: Free 
Timings of Church: 10:00AM to 17:00PM Everyday
Timings of Museum: 10:00AM to 17:00PM Mondays only 

Here are some tips:
There are way too many sites that sell tickets for entry and I had a tough time to figure out which is real and which is fake, so let me make your life easier - Official Florence Duomo Tickets 

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

33 comments:

  1. beautiful place..thanks for sharing

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  2. Waiting in a 3 hour queue doesn't sound like fun. I like your plan of a tour route with designated start times. That sounds much better way to see Florence.

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  3. You saw an amazing amount for such a short time in Florence. It can be tough with those long queues, good thing you book the Galleria and Uffizi. Cool to know that so much of Florence is a UNESCO sight.

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  4. I'm very happy you've been to Florence as I will visit here this winter. Already I'm excited as the historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site (I didn't know). The line for the Duomo was huge, I'll check out the official site you shared to get a ticket and get for one for the short line, although in off season it could be quieter anyway. I can't wait to walk around the city taking photos, the Ponte Vecchio bridge looks super unique!

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  5. Everything you photographed here looks so beautiful. The art is so detailed and intricate. The merry-go-round is like one you see in movies

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  6. I remember seeing the bridge and the streets surrounding the duomo in an episode of amazing race. It looked very picturesque

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  7. What an absolutely beautiful place Florence is. And, like India, full of fabulous art and history. I would love to visit here and I really enjoyed your post and the lovely photos.

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  8. &You saw so much for such a short time in Florence! Good for you! The duomo is so impressive and the Galleria del'Acedemia and Uffitzi are must see's when in the city. I think you made the right call booking your entry for 8.15am and midday - they both tend to get really busy in the afternoon.

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  9. Florence has been a dream, such a shame I've never been.... I love architecture and arts, it looks like the perfect city for me to visit! Thanks for all the details you provide, really good read

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  10. Florence is LOVE <3 It was one of the highlights of my Italian trip. It was crowded even when I visited, but 2.5 hours! :O I remember being told off because I wore a dress over my knees! :D Had to wrap a shawl around my legs:D Love the architecture and most of all loved the gem boutiques in the cobbled alleys!

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  11. Florence is a great destination for history, art and architecture! It must have been amazing to see the sculptures and designs up close. It's unfortunate though that you weren't able to see the Duomo. I guess the long queue should be expected since the entrance is free.

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  12. After standing 2.5 long hours in Q it is really worth after seeing inside paintings and sculture. Florence is a place for art lovers. We went to Florence in Winters during snow so at that time there was no Q.

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  13. We loved florence but yes there were so many people there! Great idea I agree that early it is the best time to go! Incredible town and your photos are gorgeous and you saw so much of the town! Awesome!

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  14. Florence is in our bucket list! I'll surely use this post when we start planning our trip! How long did you stay in Florence?

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  15. There's always something about historical place that leaves us speechless whenever we traipse our feet on its innate beauty. I haven't been to Florence and this one seemed to be so interesting and lovely. I truly love to amble around and learn the history behind. Those building are truly beautiful with an amazing intricate design to just gaze at.

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  16. Florence is an ultimate dream destination. I'm quite fascinated by its surreal architecture whenever I saw its pictures anywhere. I hope to visit there! Thanks for sharing the tips! Bookmarking your post for my reference!

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  17. Recently, i have been reading many articles on Florence and because of that now my curiosity to see the place, its sculptures and other monuments have increased by many folds.I love the way how you understand the history. Your pictures are amazing.

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  18. I totally fell in love with Florence and also found it to be a great base to visit other places like Siena, Lucca and Pisa. I totally love that region.

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  19. thanks for such a great detailed post! Alas the downside of amazing sights like the uffizi is there is inevitably a big wait to get in!

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  20. EAch and every aspect of Florence is just WOW. I could not fully see this place but then I have a feeling that this is one of those places that I can never ever complete. Will have to rely on virtual tours like yours to finish it all off. Loved your detailed account of the places - got me back there!

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  21. You're very lucky to visit the birth place of Dante Alighieri, author of Divine Comedy. It's one of the place I've dreamed of visiting. And also, It's very rich in History. I like places with a lot of History to tell.

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  22. What a great detailed posts. It seems like I am with you traveling in Florence while reading this. You captured amazing photos. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. We went back to Florence after 7 years in 2017 and it was as mesmerising as we remembered it. Every inch of the Historic Centre was thronging with people, but they didn't exist for me...because the sights were larger than life and all I could see were those marvellous structures.

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  24. That was a really long queue. It was good you were able to make do with the exterior as well as other areas in Florence.

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  25. This place seems amazing and I would really want to visit it soon!

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  26. Your post brought back memories of my time in Florence. It remains one of my favorite cities to visit in Italy.

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  27. I have been to Florence years back with school ... it was beautiful but ever since I want to go back; i probably did not appreciate the city enough when being only 16 years young.

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  28. Awesomeness this place packs for the tourists. That queue is so long though. Worth the wait it must be!

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  29. Florence looks so beautiful! I cant believe I miss that city when I was on my road trip in Italy! The architecture is fabulous! And its a bummer about those queues ... Unfortunately it happens everywhere in the world, sometimes even more than 2,.5 hours! But seems like you had a great time anyway :)

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  30. Florence looks like an amazing historic city to go around exploring on foot. There are so many gorgeous places to explore and the architecture is stunning! Beautifully covered!

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  31. I know Florence very well and I love it, it's definitely one of those places that I would revisit all over again once a year :)

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  32. I loved my visit to Florence! Definitely wished we could've gone into the Florence Cathedral but the queue was way too long. You got to see quite a bit during your visit! So much history that I wish I could've seen but I'll save it for next time.

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  33. waiting in long queues for hours is definitely no fund when you're travelling. I hate such experiences so much.

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