Old town of Florence

Historical center of Florence is a completely pedestrian zone. It has such a great number of sights that Florence is rightly called the cultural center of Italy.

It would be reasonable to plan at least two days for visiting Florence. At that, if you want to have a thorough look at the collections of the Uffizi Gallery, as well as those of the Palatine Gallery at the Palazzo Pitti, you should add another day.

In certain quarters of Florence near the Santa Croce Basilica there remained the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, with rough-hewn stone houses and very narrow streets. At the same time the main streets around Piazza della Signoria were reconstructed and extended. There you can see the houses of the Renaissance period, as well as of 18-19 centuries. All this makes the Old Town very interesting not only to go from one palace to another but also to simply walk on the streets of the old Florence.

If you can spare two days for visiting Florence, it would be better for you to divide the sights on the right and left bank. Surely, you`d better start from the center of public life – Piazza della Signoria. It is an open air museum in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, or the Old Palace, where there remained the interiors of the period of the Florentine Republic.

Nearby you can see the Uffizi Gallery – one of the greatest museums in the world. You must buy a ticket in advance via Internet, or otherwise you will have to stand in a queue for several hours.

A broad street called Via Calcaoli leads from the Piazza della Signoria to the main cathedral of Florence, Santa Maria della Fiore. The cathedral has a splendid exterior, and rather modest interior. You must ascend either the Giotto Belfry or the dome of the Cathedral. The observation deck of the dome is higher, but from the Giotto Belfry you could admire the dome of the cathedral, which is very beautiful.

By narrow medieval alleys, you can get from the cathedral to the Santa Croce Basilica. This is the largest Franciscan church in Italy, which, since the moment of its construction in the 13 century, was the pantheon of the famous Italians both from Florence and other cities.

On the second day of your tour of Florence you may visit all interesting sights on the left bank of the Arno. You must have a walk over the Ponte Vecchio – the oldest bridge in Florence.

At the distance of 5 minute walk from the bridge there`s located the huge Palazzo Pitti, with the Boboli Gardens behind it. Palatine gallery of the palace is interesting because of its eleven pictures of Raphael (it is more than in any other museum in the world), and some other masters of the Italian Renaissance. Although you may limit yourself to the Uffizi Gallery you must visit the Boboli Gardens.

Coming back to the Arno you need turn right and go to the Piazzalle Michelangelo commanding the most beautiful view on the Old Town of Florence. The Arno makes a beautiful bend at the Ponte Vecchio, and the dome of the Santa Maria della Fiore Cathedral and the toothed walls of the Palazzo Vecchio rise above the city.

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Old town Florence as viewed from the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Via Calcioli near the Signoria Square.
Signoria Square and rooftops of Florence as viewed from the tower of Palazzo Vecchio.
View on the central quarters of the old town Florence from the Giotto`s Belfry of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.
A house near the Signoria Square in Florence.
Old quarters of Florence as viewed from the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Ponte Vecchio over the Arno river at the heart of Florence.
Republic Square as viewed from the Giotto`s Belfry.
Round dome of the Basilica of St. Lawrence (Basilica di San Lorenzo) and the spire of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella (Santa Maria Novella).
The quarters of old town Florence are threaded by small narrow streets.
Basilica of St. Lawrence at the old town Florence.
Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria Novella near the railway station of Florence.
In the 19 century the roads were broadened in some quarters of Florence, and the houses lost their medieval appearance.
Broad streets near the Republic Square in Florence.
On some streets of Florence medieval houses are side by side with those of the 19 century.
Tiled roofs of the old houses of Florence.
Houses near the Signoria Square in Florence. 
Savoy is one of the most luxurious hotels in Florence.
Sunset over the Arno river in Florence.
The houses of all architectural styles and periods are close to each other in the old quarters of Florence.
Narrow streets along the Arno embankment.
The building of the Uffizi Gallery overlooking the Arno embankment.
The houses on the General Diaz embankment in Florence.
The Arno as viewed from the Graces Bridge.
In the neighborhood of the Santa Croce Basilica the streets of Florence retained their medieval appearance.
In the neighborhood of the Santa Croce Basilica the streets of Florence retained their medieval appearance.
In the neighborhood of the Santa Croce Basilica the streets of Florence retained their medieval appearance.
The court of the National Museum of Bargello in Florence.
The windows in all houses of Florence have venetian blinds protecting them from sun.
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli on the wall of a house in the old quarters of Florence.